A relationship that could have led to his firing instead has been a smooth one for Jets head coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik.
Weeks before the end of the regular season, reports surfaced that Ryan was likely on his way out the door after five seasons with the Jets. But rumors of his demise were premature as Jets brass decided to bring him back after an 8-8 season that exceeded most expectations. The team announced a multiyear extension between the Jets and Ryan on Thursday.
The relationship between Ryan and Idzik was supposed to be rocky from the onset with two very different personalities coming together.
But even though Idzik inherited Ryan as his head coach after he was hired last offseason, the two worked well together. One source in Jets management paints a picture of an almost instant harmony between the two.
“They got along really well from the start. Those scouting trips, the Senior Bowl, those things all helped,” the source told Metro. “But I think a lot of that was Rex changing. Rex wasn’t the Rex of old necessarily. He changed a bit, tightened up a bit. Seemed more focused.
“Maybe it was fear of him losing his job. Can you blame him? Or maybe it was some soul searching, but he was more controlled, a bit more measured. I think the connection grew from there with John.”
The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because he can’t publicly comment on personnel or team issues.
“Rex and I have worked well since I got here and have the same vision for this football team,” Idzik said in a release about the contract extension. “As I have stated before, he is a phenomenal teacher and motivator. We are fortunate to have him as our head coach. The front office, coaches, players, this entire organization — we’re all in this together. We are all governed by the same motives and that is to build a perennial winner here with the Jets.”
Idzik is a buttoned-up type who comes across as a bit of an academic. The gregarious and outspoken Ryan is everything publicly that Idzik is not. But the two formed a good relationship, one the source said “is genuine.”
“Working with both of them, you can tell that there is a good synergy. They communicate well together,” the source said. “It isn’t what you might imagine on the outside looking in. When they meet, they talk things through openly. Rex isn’t afraid to lobby for a player, [or] to challenge John. To that point, Rex wanted to bring in Ed [Reed] when he was let go from Houston. John listened to the pitch and weighed the decision. Ed was a Jet last year, so you see how it works. I think John is very open-minded to Rex’s ideas. But Rex is weighing his words a bit more now. [He is] a bit more calculating.”
The source also said Ryan was very present when Idzik’s father passed away in December
The biggest part of the equation though according to the source is that Ryan did change his style and approach. Publicly, he was more contained than years past and he cut back on everything from hyperbole to predictions.
Whether it was a deliberate attempt by Ryan to cozy up to his new boss or just part of his personal maturation process, it seems to have worked.
“Rex showed an instant affinity for John. Good politics? Not so sure. I think he benefited from some of the restraint and caution John brought in — a lack of control that maybe Rex didn’t have the past few years,” the source said. “I think they clicked and the opposites worked out. I know that the decision to bring Rex back for another year was one that John unanimously agreed with and was on board with doing. There wasn’t any hedging. He wanted Rex back.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.