Rex Ryan had a tremendous start to his NFL head coaching career with the New York Jets beginning in 2009. He made the playoffs in consecutive seasons and held a 20-12 record through his first two seasons. But things have unraveled since then, with Jets going 14-16 over the past two seasons and the debacle at QB to end this season perhaps Ryan’s biggest drama to date.
And now, one of Ryan’s former players, defensive lineman Trevor Pryce, is offering up a reason why Ryan is struggling: Ryan is too nice for the NFL. If he wants to achieve sustained success in the NFL, Ryan needs to harden up like Bill Belichick.
"He (Ryan) is a brilliant strategist, a man who works to the point of exhaustion and possesses a passion for and knowledge of football that is unmatched," Pryce wrote in a piece for the New York Times on Friday. But he goes on to say that X’s and O’s have taken a back seat to to what he calls “him or me” politics.
"The two personality traits that are stopping him from being a great head coach," Pryce said, "are the same two that make him a great human being: He is loyal to the point of defiance, and he cares enormously about the people around him.
"Bill Belichick displays neither of those traits, certainly not while coaching."
Pryce was complimentary of Ryan, saying he is a hard worker and one of the best human beings in the league. But Pryce noted staying with Mark Sanchez too long, hiring a friend who knew nothing about the defensive line to coach the Jets’ defensive line and his reluctance to fire Brian Schottenheimer as examples of Ryan’s flaws.
"Ryan’s first choice would have been to work it out (with Schottenheimer)," Pryce wrote. "They parted on mutual terms because the last thing Ryan was going to do was fire a guy he believed in. No matter what."
Pryce does have hope for Ryan, saying that this season will likely harden him and make him more like the Belichicks of the league. If Ryan hopes to stick with the Jets, these last games of this season may be critical.