Rex Ryan has changed, the Jets head coach admitted on Monday, but though the once-outlandish coach has become a company man, his desire to win is still very much there.
Once one of the most entertaining press conferences in the league, Ryan dazzled the Jets with one-liners, jokes and preposterously bold statements, including twice predicting his team would make the Super Bowl. But with a new general manager in John Idzik, a serious and sober-minded individual who rarely shows emotion, Ryan has tried his best to become a clone of his new boss. And that means no more zany Rex.
He’s now a company man, or so it seems, even as he said that he hasn’t been told to change his ways. For a head coach known to fly by the seat of his once oversized pants, the slimmed-down Ryan says it is a matter of maturity, not an order from management that he tighten his style with the media.
“There’s no directive from above saying this, that or the other. There’s not,” Ryan said. “Before I know I’ve said, ‘This guy will play’ and he doesn’t play. Woops. Or something else. Being my fifth year, maybe there’s some things I’ve learned, the timing of things might be better, not making assumptions and things like that. I’ve probably learned a little bit from that through the years.”
It is painfully obvious though that sometimes Ryan just can’t help himself. Following the third preseason game, Ryan pulled the very un-Idzik like move of turning his back on a reporter who was repeatedly asking follow-up questions on the quarterback competition. That flap aside, for the most part, Ryan now stands and plays the role of the company man.
A major reason safety Dawan Landry signed as a free agent with the Jets this offseason was Ryan. Landry and Ryan were together in Baltimore for several years before Ryan left as the Ravens defensive coordinator to come to the Jets.
“Rex is a major reason why I’m here. He’s one of those coaches you want to play for,” Landry told Metro during preseason. “He’s a great coach. He was great in Baltimore and he’s great now. When the opportunity came up, I knew I wanted to play here.”
In the past, Ryan has been larger than life. Prior to the Jets playing a regular season game against the Browns in 2010, he entered a press conference dressed like his brother Rob Ryan, then the Browns defensive coordinator. The ensemble was complete with a blonde wig and a pillow to add paunch as he zinged and joked his way through the opening of the press conference. Those were happier times, when the Jets were winning and Ryan was the toast of the town. His team hasn’t made the playoff in two years and Ryan is currently on the coaching hot seat.
Now, he is just a man at a podium, unable or perhaps unwilling to be himself.
Gone are the proclamations of making the Super Bowl. But even with the guarantees a thing of the past, Ryan said that nothing has changed about his desire on the football field.
“I know certainly people have made enough fun of me for making guarantees. How I’m going to make fun of anybody for not guaranteeing or guaranteeing or whatever, I don’t know,” Ryan said. “I can tell you one thing: I’m planning on winning, I’m planning on winning this game, the next game, whatever. That’s never going to change. My approach changed a little bit on making guarantees when I found out — and it’s been well documented — that it put added pressure on our players. That’s why I’ve changed. Do I expect to win? I always expect to win. No matter what it is, I always expect to win.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.