Rex Ryan needs to rein himself in
As a member of the media, I like Rex Ryan as much as everyone else. The Jets coach is funny. He’s quotable. He’s must-see TV. He’s a reporter’s dream.
As a former football player, I have my doubts about Rex Ryan. The Jets coach is too funny, too quotable, too in love with cameras and reporters.
At its core, football is not a fun game. It’s violent, mundane, tedious work. Its joy is derived from winning, not the process. The process is hard. Rex Ryan wants to make it fun and raucous and carefree. He thinks he can reinvent head coaching in the NFL.
It’s not going to happen.
He’s not going to put a smile on Tom Landry’s face or turn Vince Lombardi into a stand-up comedian or bait Bill Belichick into discussing supermodel wives.
The game is going to humble Rex Ryan, remind him that flamboyance is best left to Deion Sanders, Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco.
The humbling process continued Sunday when the Jets lost for the second consecutive week, this time to the Miami Dolphins, unmasking Ryan’s squad as pretenders more than contenders.
The Jets (9-4) haven’t beaten a team with a winning record since Week 3, when they knocked off the Dolphins. The combined record of the Jets’ nine victims is 44-71. Just for comparison, the AFC East-leading Patriots (11-2 have upended teams with a combined record of 70-71.
Yeah, the Jets smell like frauds. Worse, the Jets smell like immature frauds.
If you had to pick one NFL team that would employ a strength coach who would knee/trip an opposing player while he ran down the sideline, wouldn’t it be the team with the news-conference, wig-wearing coach, the team involved in the Ines Sainz-Jenn Sterger controversies, the team with the X-rated HBO reality show?
Yep, Sal Alosi, the unsportsmanlike coach, is a reflection of the tone Ryan has set with his antics.
Football isn’t rap music. You can have too much swagger.
Let me repeat: I like Rex Ryan. I respect Ryan’s football intellect, ability to motivate and lead.
But he’s starting to resemble his father, Buddy, a brilliant mind who was a far superior defensive coordinator than he was a head coach.
The Jets have the most talent in the NFL. They’re an all-star team — on both sides of the ball. It’s inexcusable New York has been held without a touchdown in four games —- all four of its losses — this season.
Ryan coaches emotion (defense) better than execution (offense). His personality and coaching style get the best out of a defense and bring out the worst in an offense.
He needs to adjust. It’s not too late to adjust.
The Jets have the tools to field a terrific offense.
Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Dustin Keller and Jerricho Cotchery are as formidable a receiving corps as there is in the league. They have size and speed. LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene form a productive 1-2 punch in the backfield. Mark Sanchez is a good young quarterback. And utility receiver/wildcat Brad Smith adds another dimension defensive coordinators must prepare for.
The problem is coaching.
A New York friend and ardent Jets fan suggested Sunday night that Rex handcuffs offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
Maybe. But Schottenheimer was born with offensive handcuffs. His father, Marty, placed them in Brian’s crib at birth. Seriously, instead of reading his son Dr. Seuss classics such as "The Cat in the Hat" and "Green Eggs and Ham," Marty read his infant son Chuck Knox game-plan classics such as "The Joys of Field Position Football" and "Ground Chuck and Punt."
Whatever the cause, the Jets look and sound like a team that is fracturing under the weight of a head coach whose style fits only half of the locker room.
“According to Rex, we played (terrible),” New York defensive end Shaun Ellis told The New York Post. “He said we weren’t good enough. I guess we needed a shutout. I guess that’s what he was talking about.
“It’s frustrating to hear that because we played a solid game. I guess he just expects so much out of the defense that there should have been zero points on the board, not 10.”
I don’t blame Ellis for the frustration. Miami won the game despite being held to six first downs, 131 total yards, five pass completions and surrendering three turnovers and five sacks.
Rather than reinvent coaching, Rex Ryan should reinvent Rex Ryan.
Those of us in the media love coaches with over-the-top personalities. We’re loyal to winners.