TOJ would like to introduce another writer to our staff, Justin Fritze, who will occasionally be providing us with some feature material and a unique look at our New York Jets. Justin is an arts and culture writer who graduated from Baruch College, here is his debut piece for TOJ —
“No, we don’t fear anything”
– Rex Ryan
Head coaches have nightmares about it. Offensive lineman spend hours trying to figure out how to block it. Offensive coordinators respect it. It is a Rex Ryan defense, and it would like to meet your quarterback.
Rex Ryan takes pride in his defense. If you don’t believe that, take a look at the cover of Sports Illustrated after the Jets beat the Patriots in the playoffs. A quarterback with three Superbowl rings is not supposed to look like that. However, when Calvin Pace is attempting to rip your shoulder completely out of the socket, walking off the field under your own power starts to take precedence over passer rating.
Rex Ryan, unlike his father, was not a sergeant in the army, but he spent enough time with the ’85 Bears to understand what it takes to lead men. Buddy was part general, part inspirational speaker. In a sense, magical. How else could you explain Mike Singletary playing like he was 10 feet tall? How else could you explain 7 pass rushers, that in certain situations, eerily resembled the hounds of hell?
To all this chaos, this sheer destructive force, there was a formula of efficiency. Work them hard, work them until they do not miss a single step, until you can call their audibles, until the defense OUTSCORES the opposing offense.
There was a certain point that Buddy would let off, like the scene in Full Metal Jacket where Gomer Pyle transformed from slow and dumb to a complete killing machine. Except there was no insane bathroom scene involving rifles and major malfunctions.
“Rookies get you beat, I don’t play with rookies”
– Buddy Ryan
When Dave Duerson was drafted to the Bears in the 3rd round of the ’83 draft, Buddy Ryan was forced to cut one of his players, and gave Duerson fair warning that he was not happy about it. “I had to cut a hell of a kid to keep your ass on this team, I didn’t want to, and I hope you prove me wrong, but I’ll tell you this, if you don’t, I’ll be one sad son of a bitch”. It can be assumed then, that Buddy Ryan had little respect for college players, even if they did play at Notre Dame.
When you look at it, the NFL is a completely different game than college football. The purpose of most college football programs, in simple terms, is to develop a system that best hides the glaring weaknesses of its formations, and simultaneously makes the coach look like a genius so he can get a winning record and thus move on to a bigger and better job. Despite a term like “pro style offense” , no team in the NCAA is even close to a professional caliber offense/defense. Because of this, rookies, especially defensive rookies, can cost you the game. (See Kyle Wilson v. The Ravens).
“When we gave up 31 to Miami, we knew Buddy couldn’t walk tall, and we wanted Buddy to walk 6’8
– Dan Hampton
It’s no secret the Ryan family likes to talk about their team. With a fanbase as prideful and cynical as the Jets, praise is boasting and failure is expected. Things like playoff victories over the Patriots cause grown men to embrace and weep tears of joy all over the five boroughs. We do, of course, live in the age of the headline, the tweet, the misquote, and so when Buddy Ryan told his players, on the eve of the 1985 Super Bowl, “you’ll always be my heroes”, it is not much different than Rex Ryan saying “I believe we have the best defense in football”
It’s the same because they know that their players have heart, that they have pride, that they believe there is a duty to go out an play like someone is disrespecting their coach. That is why the Ryan family is great for football, because they understand the importance of every game, the importance of every play.
“I’m confident. There is no question about it. We’re going into the game expecting to win. I’d be shocked if we don’t. Absolutely would be.”
– Rex Ryan
If Rex Ryan had the social demeanor of Bill Belichick people would assume that his method is that of a cryptic genius, but then he wouldn’t have guys like Kenny Phillips or Antrel Rolle slobbering all over him like 16 year old girls at a Justin Bieber concert. That is the inherent duality of the New York coach persona. There is the guy on the practice field, in the locker room, and then there’s the guy who has to appease the media in the press conference.
Despite the overblown quotes, the absurd amount of attention paid to offhand remarks, games are not lost and won amongst members of the media. Rex Ryan knows football and the press, he watched his dad become beloved and a villain. With that sort of run through, he plays it until fact and fiction are blurred into some strange inter-zone. What you read in the paper may sound real, but seeing and hearing are two different senses.
Case in point, when Darrelle Revis was questionable to return after a strained hamstring, the transcript read “no, I don’t think were going to play him at all”. The video of course shows a beaming Rex trying to choke back a smile.
Sometimes I thank god Rex Ryan is a football coach and didn’t end up as something like…um…..well let’s say a right wing political speechwriter. Imagine it…war hawks being unable to suppress their massive excitement….political parties forming around him…he would make Oliver North look like a punk. Yes, Rex Ryan is a 21st century renaissance man.