Rex Ryan's swagger sets Jets right heading into tilt with Patriots at Meadowlands
By Gary Myers
Friday, September 18th 2009, 4:00 AM
Rex Ryan's bravado has instilled a confidence in the Jets in his short time as head coach.
Rex Ryan has given the Jets a personality and a swagger that's been missing since Bill Parcells made a three-year pit stop in the late '90s and changed the culture of the team.
Of course, Parcells had already put together a Hall of Fame resume by the time he reached the Jets in 1997. Ryan is in his first NFL head coaching job and he has all of one victory against an incompetent bunch of Texans.
But the Jets once again have a coach who will fight back and stick up for his team and it's about time. If the Jets are going to get stomped on, they are going to have to run over Ryan first. Figuratively, of course, although at 340 pounds, he would fit in nicely next to Kris Jenkins in the middle if he ever switched to a 4-3 defense.
There is no comparing the accomplishments of Ryan and Parcells, of course, just as Ryan has been right this week by saying Bill Belichick is a better coach than he is. But the similarity is Parcells' players unconditionally bought into his program and they had complete confidence in him.
So far, and again it's just been one offseason and one game, the thing that strikes me about the Jets is that Ryan had his guys all believing in him the moment he predicted a visit to the White House at his opening news conference in January. Eric Mangini? He was so secretive he wouldn't even acknowledge there was a White House.
The Jets may never get there with Ryan or anybody else. Hey, it's been more than 40 years now. But a team has no chance if it doesn't believe in the coach. And after three years of being put to sleep by Mangini, the Jets needed shock therapy.
Ryan has given it to them. They had been so beaten down by Mangini's suffocating approach that once Ryan was hired and then endorsed players saying what was on their mind and he led the way by showing them how it was done, all this stuff building up inside of them for three years started flying out of them. There is no track record that shows teams that trash talk don't win. Nobody talked more than the '85 Bears and they were one of the most dominant teams of this generation.
Are the Jets a little too hyped up for just the second game of the year? Ryan hasn't stopped talking since the moment the plane landed from Houston on Sunday night. Kerry Rhodes told the Daily News he doesn't just want to beat the Patriots, he wants to embarrass them and Belichick winds up talking to his team about it Thursday. Will the Jets have anything left for the Titans next week if they lose to the Patriots? This league is one week at a time. So the Jets are going for it this week.
Look at it this way: What did the Jets accomplish being so politically correct the last 10 years? Nothing. Now we'll see if the other approach works. I do think there is a correlation between the Jets feeling uninhibited with their comments during the week and playing with an attitude on Sundays.
The Jets' only real significant victory over the Patriots during the Belichick era was blowing the whistle on his covert SpyGate operation two years ago. Belichick was so cocky he not only did it on the road at Giants Stadium, but he tried to cheat in broad daylight against Mangini, one of his protégés.
Ryan may been been a little sophomoric and Joe College with his recorded phone message to season-ticket holders this week soliciting their support on Sunday. What's next? A Friday night bonfire at Woody Johnson's house? If he gets the fans into it, if it gets his players to push forward in the fourth quarter and end their eight-game home losing streak against the Patriots, then what's wrong with that?
In the end, Ryan is just sticking up for his team, creating a sense of urgency, trying to erase their inferiority complex. Ryan has energized the organization, starting with Johnson.
He reiterated this week that he is not here to kiss Belichick's rings, but he also concedes that the Jets can't match up at coach and at quarterback this week with Belichick and Tom Brady.
"Historically, is this guy a better coach?" Ryan said. "I've got news for you: He's a better coach than the rest of them in this league, too. I recognize the fact that he's a great coach. But you know, I think I'm a decent coach myself, but we are going to find out who the better team is."
Right outside of the executive offices on the second floor of the Jets' facility in Florham Park, there is a huge picture of the $1.7billion stadium they are building with the Giants. It will be blue on Giants game days and green on Jets game days. Right next to the picture is a big sign that says, "Finally, we're the home team. Coming 2010."
The Jets have been visitors in their own stadium since 1984. Maybe Ryan's mouth can help make them the home team again.