A new year for the New York Jets with new hopes, new expectations and new faces is just getting underway. But one old face looms large, that of recently departed head coach Rex Ryan.
Gone after six seasons with the team, Ryan nevertheless casts a giant shadow on this team. His 'Play Like a Jet' mantra continues to hang in various spots around the facility and despite not making the playoffs the past four seasons, Ryan was wildly popular with this fanbase. But with a new coach in the thoughtful, pragmatic Todd Bowles, the Jets are in a period of transition. Out with the theatrical, affable and goofy Ryan. Now, enter the quiet man.
Making it even more complicated for Jets fans is that Ryan is the new head coach of the Buffalo Bills, placing him with a division rival. It makes it difficult for fans with an affinity for Ryan to root too hard for him to fail.
And that includes those in the locker room as well.
“Obviously happy for Rex, you know, excited for him. I hope he does well but not that well,” center Nick Mangold said on a conference call with the media on Monday following the first day of offseason workouts. “Well shoot, not just Rex but there's a lot of new faces in this building. I think the due diligence was done to get the right people in here; I think we're all excited about that.”
But some of those new faces aren't really all that new.
Cornerback Darrelle Revis, traded away two years ago and fellow cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who was lost to free agency, return to the Jets. The capturing of Revis and Cromartie gives the Jets arguably the best secondary in the league.
It's something that is welcome news for even a grizzled offensive lineman such as Mangold.
“It's good to see them back. Cro' - he was only gone for a little bit so we really didn't have time to miss him being there in the locker room. It's good to see them both back; they're both fantastic players. I know I'm excited,” Mangold said. “I've always enjoyed playing with those two guys. I know that they bring a great enthusiasm and work ethic. I know they'll be a great addition for us.”
→ Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, who is seeking a new contract, will not attend offseason workouts per a statement released by agent Chris Wiestling:
“Muhammad will not be attending the New York Jets 2015 Voluntary Workouts that began today on April 6, 2015. Muhammad has been engaged in a workout program with his personal trainer since February, and believes that continuing with his current program will put him in the best physical shape for the 2015 season.”
→ This offseason, the Jets brought in veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to compete for the starting job. Incumbent starter Geno Smith called Fitzpatrick “a guy I can lean on and talk to.” Fitzpatrick played for Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey when Gailey was head coach of the Buffalo Bills. Smith wouldn't say if he thinks he is the team's starter.
→ This was the first time many of the team's players had the chance to meet Bowles, hired this offseason after an extensive coaching search. He seemed to strike a chord with the players.
“I'm excited. Get to see him up in front of the team this morning; he has a great passion, really excited about being head coach, his vision for the team and I'm excited as we get going to continue to see how he goes about doing things. How he runs his meetings, how he runs practices,” Mangold said. “It's going to be a fun offseason.”