Rex Ryan Handled the Wayne Hunter Demotion Perfectly


Aug 15, 2012; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan walks back to the locker room following practice at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE

Rex Ryan is a colorful guy, this we all know. Whether he is talking about not “kissing rings”, or comparing guys to all time greats, Rex is always lighting it up with something to say. Love him, or hate him, it’s the truth.

But, what doesn’t always come out is the way Rex handles his players. Guys that are here, love playing for him. If you look at what coach Ryan had to say when talking about demoting Wayne Hunter, you can see exactly why they feel that way about him.

For example, the media asked Rex when he knew that Wayne Hunter would not be the starting right tackle. Look at his response:

We just thought that he’s better in this role (as an extra offensive lineman), and that’s it. The man’s played 10 years in this league. You don’t bluff your way into the National Football League for 10 years. (You can bluff it for) 10 minutes maybe, but not 10 years. Obviously, he’s got a lot of great tape. We focus on, hey, he’s got some bad plays. Everybody has some bad plays. Now, he wasn’t the only one that never performed up to maybe expectations last season. It starts with me. From top to bottom, we all probably took our turns last year did not perform to where we wanted to and that starts with me. But again, I’m looking at the big picture of, this man can really help us in this particular role. I know he can, he’s done it. And I’m excited to get him back in that role.

See how he focuses on what Wayne can do, rather than what he can’t do? Instead of taking the bait, so to speak, and discussing when he decided that Hunter wasn’t good enough, he talked about putting his guy back into a role where he was successful. That’s a coach’s job, to put his guys in the best position for success, and that hs what he is doing here.

He was given another bait question, when he was asked whether or not there are guys not cut out to be starters. To Rex’s credit, he did not take the bait. He instead responded this way:

Well, I don’t know. Look at basketball players. There are some guys that are better as the sixth man in basketball than they are as the starting guys. (They are) more valuable to you. I look at what Wayne can do for this football team, it’s very valuable. When you can plug a guy in all across the line and as a tight end, all of a sudden now, we are a ground-and-pound type mentality. When that big guy comes in there at tight end, everybody in the ball park’s going to think we’re going to run. We don’t have to run. You can put him in as the sixth man in protection. And you can not disappoint them, you can run behind him. So, I think there’s a lot of that. I remember going against Mark Bruener from Pittsburgh all those years as a coach. He was a tremendous blocking tight end. Somebody said, “Oh, he’s a tackle over there.” That gave me an idea then that, you know what? He is a big tackle over there and they could still run the football with the best of them and hopefully that’s where we’ll be as well.

He had the chance to say, “Yes, some guys aren’t starters, they are bench players.” But coach didn’t do that. He instead talked about what Wayne Hunter can add to the team as a sixth offensive lineman, and as a blocking tight end.

This is how you motivate players to be at their best. Rex Ryan handled this situation in the best way possible yesterday. He doesn’t often get credit for the way he handles his players, but he should.

Rex Ryan handled the situation perfectly. And that is why his guys love to play for him.