Florham Park, N.J.– Rex Ryan is a larger-than-life personality, part brilliant defensive football mind, part jokester/stand-up comedian, ‘and all that jazz,’ to barrow his favorite phrase.
‘And all that jazz,’ is Ryan’s version of etc., etc., ‘and all that type of stuff’, or for “Seinfeld” fans, ‘yadda-yadda-yadda.’
But where most football coaches use this type of transition into the next question as a way for skipping over the heart of the answer, Ryan typically leans on it when he thinks everyone understands what he would say next if he continued, ‘and all that jazz.’
However not everyone is a fan of Ryan’s bravado and getting beaten to a pulp by the Patriots on national television provided his critics with a perfect chance to jump out on their soap-boxes to criticize him, and jump on the chance they did.
It’s hardly a secret that Ryan likes to do his fair share of talking and just like anything else in life, how one views Ryan’s braggadocios ways are open to a wide variety of interpretations.
Ryan has become quite the polarizing figure in the NFL these days, which is hardly a surprise when you take into consideration the nickname the NFL has earned over the last decade or so. Ever since the NFL started clamping down on, ‘excessive celebrations,’ people have been calling it the ‘No Fun league,’ and now here comes a jolly, good natured, fun loving football coach to a New York area football team.
It’s not hard to connect the dots and realize some people just simply will never approve of Ryan’s less than conventional ways.
It started as soon as he was hired, you’ve heard the stories about what he said at his opening press conference and how much confidence he had in himself. Instantly people started to slam him for talking too much and putting a target on his back. It continued to grow last season, especially after the whole, ‘we can’t make the playoffs now,’ post-game speech after the Atlanta loss, but it became all that times a trillion once the cameras of HBO’s, “Hard Knocks,” started rolling.
Then after getting demoralized by the Patriots on Monday night, it finally reached it’s boiling point. All of a sudden people decided all of Ryan’s talking had blown up in his face. They said he put too much pressure on himself and his team, he is talking a talk that his player can’t backup.
Maybe there’s some truth to that, but the fact is his player have all bought into the fact that they are a Super Bowl caliber team and really that’s step one to building a Super Bowl contender, the players and coaches have to believe. Whether they can execute enough to accomplish that goal is another story, but to knock a player or coach for truly believing they can win and not being shy to admit it seems completely counterproductive in a sport that is based on winning at any cost.
Santonio Holmes said of his coach, “He’s a lot of fun. He speaks the truth. He means very well. He just wants everybody to pay attention to this team, not to the things really that he has to say, because he doesn’t have to get out and play. He just builds us with confidence and boosts us up.”
The thing is all of this is great for the media to talk about and dissect from every angle, but the truth is the players aren’t thinking about how fans and the media perceive them or their coach, they could care less. All that matters to them is that they believe if they can stop beating themselves no one can stop them.
Maybe they are wrong, but it can’t hurt to believe. If you want to blame Ryan for creating the headlines for the media and suckering you into drinking the Jets ‘Kool-Aid,’ go ahead, but the fact is any fan should want his team to feel this type of confidence.
Ryan comes from a prominent football family and his father was a character in his own right. He has been around his favorite game and the NFL his entire life. He loves the game of football with such a passion, and that’s how he gets to spend his days throughout the majority of his life. Is there any wonder why he is has so much fun?
He has fun and has been rather successful at his job, has he been Bill Belichick successful? No, of course not, but do realize this is just his second-year as a head coach he still has some things to learn and get used to.
So what’s the purpose of trying to demonize this type of approach? Is it because the media can only listen to someone talk without winning for so long before they tune them out?
Regardless of how you feel about his ways or his teams potential, you have to acknowledge he has done a pretty good job here in his one and three-quarters seasons here and he’s done it his way. By being true to himself.
“After I failed at some interviews to land a job, my wife’s always like, ‘It’s not in the game plan for you to get the job.'” Ryan said, “I realized that I want to get a job, but I want to get a job where I can be myself and where I don’t have to be this way reading out of a book how to coach.”
There is no denying Ryan has succeed in being himself, during the airing of “Hard Knocks,” some people speculated he might have been putting on a bit of an act for the cameras, anyone who is around him throughout the week can tell you it’s no act that’s just Rex being Rex, ‘and all that jazz.’
His confident, never afraid to say what he feels, style might not get the Jets a Super Bowl this year, it might not get them one next year or ever, but it has his players believing and that was never more evident than this week.
On Wednesday, the media got their first chance to talk to the players since the locker room after the drumming from the Patriots and the players were all in good spirits. They were embarrassed by how they played, no doubt, but they were fully confident that they could still accomplish the goal they set at the beginning of the season. After all they do still have a 9-3 record, tied for second best in the league, so as Ryan says they aren’t about to press the panic button.
That confidence was programmed into them by their coach.
Yesterday when Ryan was asked if he thinks his quarterback has lost any confidence, Ryan gave Sanchez’s confidence the highest of recommendations.
“No. He’s as messed up as I am (laughter).” Ryan said, “He has plenty of confidence.”
All week long people have been talking about how all Ryan’s talking came back to bite him and his players finally collapsed under the pressure he built. The irony in all of this is the Jets got crushed 45-3 and people aren’t talking about what’s wrong with the players or the play-calling (And there is plenty wrong to talk about), they are talking about the fact that they think Ryan is talking too much, which completely invalidates their very argument.
All Ryan’s talking has done is exactly what he wanted it to do, it’s directed the negative attention at him and away from his players. The spotlight is on him because of his talking, not his players.
His players know and appreciate this and it only makes them more confident because they realize he is putting his neck on the line for them, that’s how much confidence he has in them.
The story of the Jets 2010 season is far from over, even if many fans feel like this is heading for a tragically familiar ending, they have never had a team filled with so much confidence in themselves and that is due to the change in culture Ryan has embedded in this team.
Confidence can’t win you a Super Bowl alone, but implanting true confidence in all the players is step one, ‘and all that jazz.’