Just moments after being introduced as the Jets new head coach, Rex Ryan confidently stepped up to the podium and delivered his own Namath-sized guarantee. Staring out at the throng of reporters, Ryan paused with a slight grin, then pronounced, "With all the cameras I was looking for our new president back there." He waited for a split second then continued, "I think we'll get to meet him in the next couple of years anyway."
With Ryan's Super Bowl XXXV ring glistening alongside his stoic personality, he preached that his players would tackle an aggressive, full-speed approach. He promised a team-oriented style in which the players would have "each other's backs" and if an opponent takes "a swipe at one [player] of ours," the Jets would "take a swipe at two of yours."
In just one afternoon, Ryan displayed more charisma than his predecessor, Eric Mangini did during his entire three-year stint with the Jets.
"He's relaxed," cornerback Darrelle Revis said. "He's not tense, he's exciting."
During Ryan's ten-year tenure with the Ravens, his K.I.L.L.-Keep it Likeable and Learnable-philosophy boiled into success on the field. The Ravens' defense never ranked lower than sixth in the NFL. In 2000, the Ravens allowed the fewest points in a 16-game season (165) en route to the franchise's first Super Bowl title.
Ryan will no longer be blessed with the talent-pool on defense he had in Baltimore. In his first year with the Jets, he will have to show that his past success was a result of his coaching and not just his players. Last season the Jets' defense ranked 16th in the NFL.
"You're going to see us not [just playing] to the whistle, but through the whistle and that's how we're going to play. We're going to turn the heat up. We're going to let the fur fly and see what happens," Ryan said. This is a good football team. It's built to play the kind of style that we're going to play."
He called Revis the "best cornerback in football," referred to safety Kerry Rhodes as a "ballhawk" and explained that the defense has its "man in the middle" with nose tackle Kris Jenkins.
While Ryan clamored about the Jets' talent on defense, he was faced with questions concerning his offense. He noted that he plans to run an agressive "all-weather attack," based around running the football. Last season Mangini reportedly planned to feature the same approach after he signed fullback Tony Richardson and offensive linemen Alan Faneca and Damien Woody, but he was forced to open up his offensive attack once the team traded for quarterback Brett Favre.
Ryan retained offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, but Favre's future with the team remains uncertain. Last week Ryan noted that he had not contacted Favre, but he sounded committed to retaining the quarterback.
"Anybody would want Brett Favre to be their quarterback. Not just me, but anybody. We'll see," Ryan said. "All the particulars and all that kind of stuff, we'll get into later."
While Favre's strong arm could be desirable for Ryan, the baggage that comes along with it may not be. During Favre's time with the Packers he rarely attended offseason OTA's. After the Jets' season-ending loss to the Dolphins, several Jets players suggested that Favre would be welcomed back only if he were to join the team for offseason workouts. The Jets cannot force Favre to join the team for the offseason program because it is voluntary, but Favre's decision to join the team in New Jersey or remain at home in Mississippi could be a breaking point for his future with the Jets.
NFL Network's Adam Schefter reported today that Favre and Tannenbaum could meet "as early as next week" to discuss the quarterback's status for next season. With the coaching staff now intact, the team will begin to turn its eye toward the roster.
Jets Continue to Assemble Coaching Staff
Yesterday the Jets announced the hiring of wide receivers coach Henry Ellard, running backs coach Anthony Lynn, assistant secondary coach Doug Plank and secondary coach Dennis Thurman. The team also announced that Bob Sutton will return as senior defensive assistant/linebackers.
Ryan's decision to retain Sutton comes somewhat as a surprise. Sutton served as the team's defensive coordinator the last three seasons, but was criticized for his reluctance to feature an attacking defense. The Jets' defense recorded 41 sacks (7th in NFL) last year, but faltered down the strech. Former Ravens linebacker coach Mike Pettine will replace Sutton as the team's defensive coordinator.
Back in February, the Jets traded linebacker Jonathan Vilma to the Saints for a fourth-round draft pick in the 2008 NFL Draft and a conditional pick in 2009. The conditional pick escalated into a third-round pick once Vilma played in 85 percent of the Saints' defensive plays. There remains a slight chance that the pick can turn into a second-rounder, but that would only come if Vilma is re-signed before the start of free-agency on Feb. 27. Unless the Saints have a deep desire to bring back Vilma immediately and are unwilling to let him hit the open market, the Jets' compensation will remain the way it is.
Vilma enjoyed a strong season with the Saints, as he started all 16 games at middle linebacker and led the team with 132 tackles.