Jets head coach Rex Ryan doesn’t offer apologies. Brash and very often affable, Ryan has earned a reputation as the most quotable head coach in the league.
But this year, he has toned things down. Gone are the big, bold statements and the ramblings of a man always seeking to boost his team. Instead, there’s a bit of reality mixed in with his still ever-present hubris. Ryan has made no Super Bowl guarantees this year and has kept his focus on the game at hand.
Even this week, when he faces his rival New England head coach Bill Belichick, there is a very quiet assurance coming from Ryan even as he still toes the line between rebel and reformed.
“We kind of understood that and it’s just like, I don’t put muzzles on the players or anything else. I’ve said from Day 1 that we might not be lined up 100 percent or whatever but, this is football, and it doesn’t have to be such a button-up type deal,” Ryan said. “But I know, I get criticized for that and that’s fine. My style is a lot different than obviously a lot of coaches.”
But there’s no denying that Ryan is more muted this year. This was a coach who in the past has made his press conferences a standup routine, even once donning a wig and putting a pillow under his T-shirt to imitate his brother, then-Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, in the days leading up to their game against Cleveland. He also made frequent guarantees about making the Super Bowl and openly admitted to crying in front of his team.
But it is that passion which drives players to want to come to New York. For free agent LaRon Landry, the great appeal of the Jets was Ryan.
“Most definitely [he was a key factor] and his confidence as a coach, no matter what, he never gives up. Guys who never give up and continue to fight, you always want to play for those guys,” Landry said. “He’s still the same person. We keep everything in house and we can only control what we can control and he’s sticking with his family now and that’s the organization.”
In the Jets locker room, nothing has changed. He remains committed to the team when the cameras are nowhere to be found. He may have changed his approach in answering questions in press conferences, but there’s little doubt among the 53 players in the locker room that he is there for them.
“He’s still the person that’s the same way as he’s always been. He cares for us and wants us the best for us and wants us to go out there and be champs,” wide receiver Jeremy Kerley said. “That’s all you can ask for from a coach really. And we want to play for him, we want to show up. That’s all you can ask for.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.