Jets Begin the Era of Rex
By Douglas Bonjour
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
January 21st, 2009
Long before Rex Ryan ever cemented his eyes onto a playbook and crafted his football X's and O's into his patented KILL ("Keep it Likeable and Learnable") defensive philosophy, he was a Jets fan. His father, Buddy Ryan, served as a defensive assistant with the Jets from 1968-1975, and while the memories of those years may be bleak for the Jets' new head coach, Super Bowl III stands clear in his mind. Ryan was six years old at the time and insists that he did not "realize the history" of the victory as it happened.
"I think that's probably the first thing I ever remember. If I go back now, I don't remember up until that point," Ryan said of the Jets' lone championship in 1969. "As a kid you just think you're going to win every game and it's no big deal."
Ryan eventually learned to understand the meaning of the Jets' improbable win over the heavily-favored Colts and now he's willing to begin a path that will enlighten each and every bumbling Jets fan.
With his Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl XXXV ring glistening on his finger this morning as he faced reporters for his introductory press conference, Ryan began by delivering his own guarantee.
"With all the cameras and all that, I was looking for our new president back there," Ryan said with a smile. He then continued, "I think we'll get to meet him in the next couple years anyway."
Of course the only way the Jets would be able to engage in such a meeting would be for them to win the Super Bowl. Seems like a mountain-sized task for a team whose championship drought has spanned 40 years, but Ryan is willing to tackle the challenge.
In showing more fire and emotion than his predecessor Eric Mangini displayed his entire three-year tenure with the Jets, Ryan issued a message to the other 31 teams in the NFL.
"The message to the rest of the league is, hey, the Jets are coming, and we're going to give you everything we've got, and that's going to be, I think, more than you can handle," Ryan said.
Ryan discussed a team-oriented approach, in which each unit would "build each other up" by being aggressive on both sides of the football. He acknowledged that the team would make mistakes, but that those mistakes would be made at "full speed."
"We will be an agressive football team and a physical football team, and we're going to start with, we want to have an all-weather offense," Ryan said. "We're going to have an all-weather offense and that starts with a running game, being able to run the football."
The agressive approach certainly is expected to deliver a lift to the Jets' offense, which was often limited by Mangini's ultra-conservative decisions late in the season. For instance, in the Jets' Week 16 loss to the Seahawks, Mangini was criticized for opting for a field goal on a fourth-and-one attempt from the Seahawks' 3-yard line, rather than go for the first down.
Aside from an agressive, ball-hawking defense, Ryan believes that the path to the Super Bowl begins with a consistent running attack.
"You've got to win when the snow flies to get where you want to be, and that's to win Super Bowls," Ryan said.
While the Jets' rushing attack remains in good shape with AFC-leading rusher Thomas Jones returning, questions at the quarterback position linger. Brett Favre has not made his intentions for next season clear, but Ryan did not issue a timeline for Favre's decision.
"I would think anybody would want him as their quarterback," Ryan said of Favre. "I know the respect I have for Brett Favre is great and it just comes from firsthand info. There's a million other decisions that need to be made and obviously Brett will be a huge decision but whether he's going, he may make that decision for us."
Ryan was asked if he had seen any of Favre's final five games, in which he tossed nine interceptions and just two touchdowns, but he replied, "I was trying to prepare the team that I was with, the Baltimore Ravens, trying to get us to a Super Bowl."
Ryan impressed owner Woody Johnson and general manager Mike Tannenbaum during a five-hour interview two weeks ago, in which Ryan faced a 19-page questionaire. Johnson explained that he and Tannebaum were looking for a "leader" and a coach with the "kind of experience we needed."
They created an evaluation chart that was split into two levels, one that categorized the "best coach" and the other that focused on the best "fit" for the team, focusing on the coach's experience in particular systems (4-3 defense, 3-4).
"We saw him in the first phase as being a great coach, Johnson said. "We said he's also a great fit for this organization as we saw the kind of players we had."
Johnson noted Ryan's "expertise, instincts and passion" as what impressed him.
Ryan was enthused to work with a roster that features Darrelle Revis, who Ryan called "the best corner in football."
However, questions on the coaching staff remain. Ryan explained that he plans to meet with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer about remaining under the same position.
"I would be doing myself a disservice by not talking to him," Ryan said. "Obviously he's one of the top coordinators in football. Of course I'd give him that opportunity to say no or yes."
Ryan announced that former Ravens linebackers coach Mike Pettine will be the team's new defensive coordinator, while assistant head coach/offensive line Bill Callahan and special teams coach Mike Westhoff will both return to the team.