He’s donned a wig and stuck a pillow under his shirt to imitate his brother, the offensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns. After dropping serious weight, he’s lifted up his shirt to show off his lap band surgery’s impact on his waistline. Last offseason, he flipped off some taunting Miami Dolphins fans while en route to a private event in south Florida.
And that, says Jets linebacker Bart Scott, makes head coach Rex Ryan a bit like President Barack Obama. The Jets’ Commander in Chief doesn’t get respect from anyone outside the Jets and Scott knows why.
“It’s how he talks and says what he’s thinking and how he lets us be loose and talk. People don’t think the president is supposed to be black either,” Scott told Metro. “They think a president is supposed to look a certain way. It’s the same thing with Rex. He doesn’t look and act the way other coaches act. And we love him for it.”
While President Rex does have a certain ring to it – and based off his Rob Ryan imitation we’d love to see the Jets head coach do a Muammar Gaddafi from the Oval Office – Rex doesn’t get much slack from the media. Jets fans love him but the gregarious head coach has become a walking punch line to critics.
Part of the issue outside of Gang Green Nation stems from a credibility gap between Ryan and his statements. This offseason alone, Ryan has made three Super Bowl guarantee speeches. Fans cheer the confidence but it’s become eye-rolling stuff to those who read the comments and bluster from Ryan.
But part of the reason why Ryan’s bravado isn’t entirely dismissed is the fact he has backed up his big talk – almost. Over the past two years, the Jets have made consecutive AFC championships for the first time in franchise history. There is a sense now around the team’s jaded fan base and the league as a whole that the Jets have turned a corner under Ryan.
And for Scott and his teammates, there is no reason to scoff when Ryan talks Lombardi Trophy.
“I wasn’t surprised. That’s how we roll. I mean, were you really surprised?” Scott said. “It isn’t like we’ve had a cataclysmic meltdown or a failure. We’re must-see TV.”
The Jets became instant contenders by bringing in players like Scott and safety Jim Leonhard from the Baltimore Ravens, the team where Ryan previously served as defensive coordinator. With Scott, Leonhard and the addition of Trevor Pryce last year, the Jets upgraded their squad with pieces from the feared Ravens defense. It was a defense known for its borderline cockiness and brash, fun-loving style.
It’s a style that seemingly thrived under Ryan, who has drawn criticism with the Jets for running too loose of a ship in New York.
“The Ravens don’t operate like the Ravens anymore. [Head coach John] Harbaugh changed everything. The Ravens aren’t that loose anymore,” Scott said. “We laugh, we joke, but then we go out there and put in a defensive system. We have our fun, and then on the field, we know what to do. If you study for the test, there’s nothing to be nervous about, right? If you don’t know what you’re doing, that’s when you can’t have fun. We know what we’re doing, but on the field, we back it up, too.”
Scott defends his coach to a fault. He’s not afraid, in his own words, “to show my love for Rex.” Scott calls Ryan a “genuine person” but he doesn’t feel the same way about the Jets biggest rival, the New England Patriots.
With three wins over the past two seasons, Ryan is the most successful head coach during that stretch against the Patriots Bill Belichick. The fact that last summer Tom Brady said he hated the Jets and this January before the playoff game, New England’s Wes Welker slyly mocked Ryan for the foot fetish scandal shows to Scott that the Jets have gotten to the Patriots.
“That’s doesn’t sound right, that kind of talk. That’s when you know they’re buying into us, when they start sounding like we talk,” Scott said. “Wes Welker start trying to be us, sounding like we do. That’s how you know they want to be us.”