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Nice Article on Rex Ryan.
[B]Rex providing reasons to believe[/B]
Last Updated: 8:35 AM, September 15, 2009
Posted: 4:03 AM, September 15, 2009
THE Jets knew what they wanted when they hired Rex Ryan. They'd seen his defense in Baltimore, had been flattened by it more than once, knew the Ravens' black, blue and purple color scheme might just be the best marriage of team and uniform ever because after 60 minutes with the Ravens your skin looks a lot like their jerseys do.
There's always a trick involved there, though. Just because a mastermind of the moment packs his playbooks, his schemes and his dreams into a moving van, the results don't always ride shotgun. You hire someone based on past results, sometimes that's where all of the success winds up: in the past. Locked in yesterday's vault.
Ryan, remember, isn't the first man to get his big break on the back of the Ravens' defense. Marvin Lewis was the man who invented it, who built it into the most frightening defense of its time, a unit so fearsome it allowed the Ravens to win a Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer as the quarterback. And Lewis hasn't come close to replicating that success in Cincinnati, his latest banana peel that absurd last-minute loss to the Broncos on Sunday.
It isn't just defense that sometimes refuses to travel. Brian Billick was hailed as an offensive genius for the new millennium off his work with the Vikings, and it sometimes seemed the Ravens under his watch were determined to win as many games as they could without scoring an offensive touchdown. Jim Fassel was another one whose reputation as a guru coordinator never quite translated once he put on a headset. Same with Dick LeBeau.
Yes, the Jets knew what they wanted when they introduced Ryan.
But there was no way of knowing, really knowing, until Sunday, when all of Ryan's glibness and all of his quips and all of his philosophies and pronouncements would be out there on a football field, open for interpretation and judgment for the first time, what they really had. And the results . . . well, let Ryan himself take it from here.
"I think I told you our defense would play good," he said after the Jets' 24-7 crushing of the Texans, the most impressive Jets season opener since Bill Parcells' debut in Seattle in 1997. "Despite what everybody thought preseason."
If there was skepticism, it is only because nothing is guaranteed in the NFL when you give an assistant coach his first shot at the real thing. Are you getting Vince Lombardi or Ray Handley? Are you getting John Fox or Mike Nolan? Are you getting Bill Belichick (loser Cleveland version) or Bill Belichick (genius New England version)?
It is one game, impressive as it was, and so there is no way to stamp Ryan just yet. But as encouraging as Mark Sanchez's first chapter may have been, seeing what Ryan has brought to the Jets' defense was even more of a revelation, especially if you consider the absences of Calvin Pace and Shaun Ellis. If you are a Jets fan, you had to find yourself in a different, if not entirely surreal, place watching all of it: Jets hitting, chasing, blitzing, pursuing, hurting.
It helps to have players like David Harris and Bart Scott capable of playing that way, of course. But it also tells you something about the man who coaxes them into getting after it so hard.
"When Rex came here he brought that old-school, nasty mentality with him," Harris said. "I think it just trickled down through all of the players today. We went out there and out-toughed them and I think it showed, especially in the fourth quarter, when we were able to dominate."
Yes, the law requires that we now drop a qualifier into this screed of praise, a warning that it is only one game, that plenty of coaches have looked like Don Shula for a week and Dave Shula the rest of their career. That is duly noted. But we can only work with the evidence currently on the table. The Patriots may well topple that table five days from now.