On January 16th 2011, Rex Ryan may have hit the pinnacle of his Jets Head Coaching Career. Having beaten his rival Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, Rex proclaimed: “Same Old Jets going to the AFC Championship Game two years in a row”. At that moment in time, Rex Ryan was the King of the NFL.
And why not? On the outside it seemed that Rex had taken a team, synonymous with epic failure, the closest they had been to the mountain top in four decades. He had survived a personally embarrassing moment when his foot fetish fantasies were broadcast to the world. He had just beaten the Kings of the AFC East in the Playoffs and bested arguably the best coach/quarterback duo in NFL history. He was poised to make good on his Super Bowl Guarantee.
When the Jets were searching for a new Head Coach following the 2008 Season, it is now painfully obvious that they should have done a little more research on Ryan. What is the biggest red flag you ask?
Why didn’t Rex Ryan secure a Head Coaching job after the 2007 NFL Season?
At the end of the 2007 NFL Season, Ryan interviewed with the Miami Dolphins (who hired Tony “Fist Pump” Sparano) and with the Atlanta Falcons (who hired Mike Smith). The most damning was with the Baltimore Ravens who had been on the staff. The Ravens had just fired Brian Billick and were in search of his replacement. The Ravens interviewed longtime assistant (and well known commodity) Rex Ryan but opted to hire a little known Special Teams Coach from Philadelphia named John Harbaugh instead. Discouraged by his inability to secure a head coaching position, Ryan returned to the Ravens as their Defensive Coordinator and now, Assistant Head Coach.
Three completely separate organizations passed over Rex Ryan to hire little known coordinators who most people could not pick out of a lineup at the time. Certainly this should have raised an eyebrow or two, right?
To be fair, Rex is a good defensive coach and a very good motivator. He is not a great defensive mind and he is certainly not the defensive genius that people try to label him as. He is, at best, only good. Rex’s stature as a coach, like many other coaches in the NFL, had been inflated due to the talent he was lucky enough to coach.
All Rex really needed was a sucker he could sell some magic beans to and after the 2008 NFL Season, he found his “Jack” in Woody Johnson. Rex was able to sell Woody on his:
1)Inflated defensive resume (thanks to the Ravens success and Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, etc…)
2)Famous NFL last name (Worked a couple of times for Wade Phillips…)
3)Self-confidence and bravado
When Ryan became the “HC of the NYJ”, people seem to forget the very talented roster he inherited that was assembled primarily by Eric Mangini. Remember…In Mangini’s final season before getting fired (2008), the Jets sent 7 players to the Pro Bowl…which was the same amount as New England, Miami, and Buffalo combine.
With that talent, his good defensive knowledge, and his ability to motivate players, Rex had early success and indeed, did coach the Same Old Jets to back to back Title Games.
[dropcap][/dropcap]By that time, Rex was able to spend much of his first two seasons twerking the media and the media ate it up faster than Holley Mangold eats a donut. Almost overnight Rex had become a media star with his brash sound bytes, his orchestrated press conferences (remember when he dressed up like Rob), and his belittling of other NFL coaches. The media loved him so much that his behavior was constantly excused as “Just Rex being Rex”.
As time went on the major shortcomings of Rex Ryan as a Head Coach became exposed. The more he became involved with the team’s Player Personnel matters, the less and less talented the Jets became. For example, as the years went on, Rex:
1)Overvalued players on his roster that led to horrible extensions being given to players
2)Was not able to identify or evaluate talent to build depth on the roster (Remember Danny Woodhead?)
3)Was completely clueless on interviewing people to enhance the coaching staff
4)(And most important) Like Father, Like Son: Demonstrated beyond any doubt that he had absolutely zero offensive knowledge
Now going into Year 5, the defense is not the same as it has been in the past, the offense seems to have taken yet another step backwards, and Rex himself has become unglued in front of the very media that made him the King of the Jersey Swamps.
People’s fortune can change very quickly. As fast as Rex went from the King to the Clown, he can regain some of his royal luster by doing one thing: Winning. If Rex is able to get this Jets team to a Wildcard berth he can certainly regain some of that shine and prove to his critics that he is a legitimate NFL Head Coach. This will be a monumental task because, in classic Ryan fashion, he has discovered a new way for the Jets to spiral out of control even before they have left the runway for the 2013 NFL Regular Season.
Unfortunately for Rex, we live in a world of reality. That reality suggests that Rex probably won’t make it past the bye week. However, as we all know, there is always Hope.
Editors Note: cknuckles claims this (foot) is an original piece of artwork, could be worth thousands. All reposting of the picture could be subject to Royalty payments