Following two seasons without a winning record or playoff appearance, Jets head coach Rex Ryan would seem to be on the proverbial coaching hot seat. But hot seat or not, Ryan is still one of the biggest selling points of the franchise.
Inserted into the mix this offseason is his complete opposite — buttoned-up new general manager John Idzik. But the man who could fire Ryan has instead partnered up with him to form the "Odd Couple" of the NFL.
“He’s been fantastic. From Day 1, I kind of jumped in midstride, we started hiring coaches together, interviewing and hiring coaches together, going through free agency, evaluating our roster, the draft, post-draft signings, minicamp and now we’re getting into more football type things,” Idzik said.
“In a very condensed period of time, we’ve had varied experiences together and it’s all been good. He’s a joy to work with. Moreover, he makes it fun. I think he’s been energized; he’s a great teacher. My observation is that he has been energized by the whole thing. Certainly I’ve been too. He’s a joy to work with.”
Ryan enters his fifth year in New York with a career regular-season record of 34-30. But it was the first two years where he made the playoffs and posted a cumulative playoff mark of 4-2 that Ryan has earned the lion’s share of his reputation as a great NFL head coach. His honeymoon with the media has worn off, as has the love affair he once had with the team’s jaded fan base. A losing record this year, even as the team is rebuilding, might be enough to send him out the door.
A source within the organization tells Metro, “Rex has bought into Idzik. Whatever direction John came in with, Rex was more than eager to complement.”
The all-in approach from Ryan might be as much about job security as it is about a change of direction. The Jets underwhelmed the past two seasons with aging stars. But Idzik has come in and sliced his way through the roster, adding a mix of underappreciated talent and proven veterans to the locker room.
Ryan remains one of the biggest selling points on this team and Idzik likely knows it. With a reputation as a player’s coach, free agents have traditionally flocked to Florham Park, N.J. to play for the affable head coach.
Dawan Landry played for Ryan when he was a defensive coordinator in Baltimore before coming to New York. His brother, LaRon Landry, started at safety for the Jets last year and he told Metro at the start of organized team activities (OTAs) in May that Ryan was a big part of his coming to the Jets.
“I was the one who told [LaRon] about Rex when he was thinking about coming here. He just makes it fun and he’s a great coach,” Dawan Landry said. “But he also knows his defense and he knows how to play the game of football. So when you have a coach like that, who can really coach but does it a way that you want to play for him, it was a no-brainer for me to come here.”
The NFL makes strange bedfellows and the Idzik-Ryan combo certainly qualifies.
Idzik is pragmatic and thorough, providing a counterweight to his emotional head coach. Idzik’s fresh approach is working with free agents. Among those convinced was Willie Colon, a Bronx native who signed with the Jets this offseason.
“This team has always had a reputation of kind of being a circus. I didn’t buy into that,” Colon told Metro. “You can always change your stars, I believe that. I felt that if I came here, I could help with that.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.