When he became the Jets’ head coach in 2009, Rex Ryan talked about his goal of winning the Super Bowl at his introductory press conference. There was nothing surprising about his statements; it is common for a new coach to speak with lofty ambitions.
But as days turned into weeks, then months and years, every time Ryan spoke it seemed like he was promising the fan base a Vince Lombardi Trophy. He has yet to deliver on that promise.
But he isn’t backing away from the challenge. In fact, Ryan has upped the ante.
“In my opinion, I think this has a chance to be the best team that I’ve had since I’ve been the coach here,” Ryan said last week.
It’s the kind of bold talk that makes Jets fans love their coach, but makes it impossible for him to ever live up to expectations. The team collapsed down the stretch last year, and an offense that was anemic during the final quarter of last season didn’t make significant upgrades.
One of the nine head-coaching hires in the league in 2009, only Ryan and Detroit’s Jim Schwartz remain as NFL head coaches. All the others were dumped by their teams. He must be doing something right, but the pressure is clearly on in his fourth season and he had better produce a title.
His all-time record in the regular season as he enters his fourth year is 28-20 — not bad by any means, but considering the team he inherited, there hasn’t been significant progress. Factor in that the crosstown Giants have won the Super Bowl twice in the last four years, and a mediocre
season with the Jets could land their head coach on the hot seat.
Or perhaps even the unemployment line.
Not surprisingly, Ryan disagrees. He set the bar high: This is, after all, the “best team” he’s had with the Jets. Anything less than the Super Bowl is now a disappointment, even if conventional wisdom holds that the Jets merely making the postseason after last year’s collapse would be an accomplishment.
“I know I’m a great coach, and what makes me a great coach is the guys that coach with me and the guys that play for me. It’s hard for me to look at myself as not being successful,” Ryan said Monday afternoon on ESPN Radio’s “Michael Kay Show.” “I don’t see [getting fired] as a possibility. One day, it might be 10 years from now or 15 years from now when Woody Johnson wants to go in a different direction, and that’s fine.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.