Rex In Effect – A Brief Guide to the Buddha Wisdom Of The Largest “Personality” In Football

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.

Turn On The Jets Interview with Tim Layden

First a few updates:

1. I would have to say at this point there is a less than a 10 percent chance of the Jets signing Plaxico Burress or trading for Brandon Marshall. Beyond those two, what other veteran options could they consider at receiver? Marvin Harrison might not be a bad option, regardless of his diminishing skills, he could still be a very competent number 2 receiver.

2. It’s funny how much negative press the Jets inexperienced receivers get, in comparison to all the hype and positive press the Giants inexperienced receivers get. What have Sinorce Moss and Mario Manningham ever done to merit so much optimism? I do think Domenick Hixon and Steve Smith are good players but certainly no better than Jerricho Cotchery and Chansi Stuckey.

3. The only enjoyable part of my daily commute to the PVSC (Passaic Valley Sewage Commission) in Newark, New Jersey (where I am working this summer as a landscaper…yes, a landscaper at the Sewage plant, awesome stuff I know) is I get to pass by the brand new Giants/Jets stadium every day. The new building puts the old one to shame and is going to be great for all NY/NJ football fans.

4. Congratulations to Brooks Bollinger for being drafted in the UFL. It seems just like yesterday he was leading the Jets to a 4-12 record in 2005.

Turn On the Jets Interview with Tim Layden

Tim Layden is a senior writer at Sports Illustrated and recently did a great feature on Rex Ryan, which can be accessed here  . He was kind enough to let me interview him yesterday about Ryan, the Jets, and the AFC East. Here is what we talked about in the first ever interview at

JC: How much of Buddy Ryan do you see in Rex?

TL: I think Rex developed his passion for coaching from watching his father work growing up. There is no question he has alot of Buddy in him, yet it ends at a certain point. Rex’s mother is a very cerebral person and you can see that in Rex also. Unlike his father, Rex is a little more calculating when talking to the media and his players. He has an ability to treat different people in different ways, which is important in the NFL. I think he is also a little more reserved than Buddy and does hold back a little sometimes, in a positive way. I think you will see Rex be more successful as a head coach in the NFL than his father.

JC: When you were talking to the Jets players, did you sense that they are enjoying the switch from Eric Mangini to Rex Ryan? Both guys are obviously polar opposite in terms of how they run their team.

TL: When I was talking to Kris Jenkins, he expressed that he did like Eric Mangini and was okay with the way he ran things but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t enjoyed the new attitude Rex has brought to the Jets. Whenever there is a new head coach, people are going to focus on their positive qualities. Rex is a very likable guy and certainly a players coach so you would expect the players to be excited about him.

Kerry Rhodes admitted he is still adjusting and as I mentioned in the story, is used to holding himself back a little more on the field and with the media but is now learning more emotion is ok. Speaking of Rhodes, I really think he is guy you are going to see flourish in Rex’s system.

Bart Scott also made a good point not to get too carried away with the fun and emotional side of Rex. He noted they had success in Baltimore because of their scheme and execution. Rex is a well prepared, confident guy which leads to the swagger his defenses have. Scott said people don’t spend enough time talking about Ryan’s X’s and O’s and how smart he is when crafting a defensive scheme.

JC: What do you think of the recent comments he made about New England and his back and forth with Channing Crowder?

TL: I think with the Bellicheck ring statement, I mean…what is he supposed to say? Rex is confident in his guys and doesn’t say anything he knows his players won’t hear. He doesn’t want them to be afraid of New England and their past success. He isn’t intimidated by New England and believes he was brought to New York to beat them, not to look up to them. I don’t think it is a condescending statement to the Patriots at all.

In terms of the Crowder stuff, Rex has a great gift for conversation and humor. It is entertaining to listen to him speak and I think all that stuff was very light-hearted and also probably blown out of proportion by people criticizing him.

JC: Do you think Rex and the Jets should be as confident as they are heading into the season?

TL: One thing I know about Ryan is that he has never coached a bad defense. Even when some of those Baltimore teams had injuries, they were still consistent and successful. The Jets defense is going to be good this year, maybe great. I think the confidence is good thing and is rubbing off on the players. Bart Scott was telling me how he can’t wait to play against Tom Brady and New England. He wants to challenge them because he believes they can get to Brady and he wants to see how he will respond to the constant pressure coming off that leg injury.

JC: Switching to some more player specific questions, how does Ryan feel about Mark Sanchez?

TL: Ryan has a good amount of measured excitement about him. He knows he has the talent but understands he still has a ton to learn at this level. He doesn’t want to go too far praising Sanchez, in fear of losing Kellen Clemens, because there is still a chance he could be guy this September. Is Sanchez going to be Matt Ryan or Rex Grossman? I don’t think anybody can answer that yet. It will be tough in New York but Ryan believes Sanchez has the right make up for this city. Remember that Rex wants to win games 17-13 and isn’t going to be asking Sanchez to throw the ball over the field. He just wants him to protect the ball and make a few plays when the opportunity is there.

JC: What did Ryan have to say about Vernon Gholston?

TL: Ryan didn’t talk all that much specifically about Vernon Gholston. I know alot of people are trying to match up Baltimore players to Jets players, comparing Gholston to Terrell Suggs and Kerry Rhodes to Ed Reed but Ryan doesn’t want to do that. A key thing that both Ryan and Bart Scott said about the Jets linebackers is that everybody is going to have the chance to makes plays and it will be hard for the offense to know where the pressure is coming from. In Baltimore, the Ravens funneled everything to Ray Lewis, in this defense it won’t be that way.

JC: One last question, how do see the AFC East shaking out this year?

TL: I guess I would say New England is probably the best team but they aren’t head and shoulders above anybody in this division. Don’t think for a second they are a 14-2 team, that is a group of older guys with some question marks at linebacker and in the secondary and you can’t be 100 percent confident that Brady is going to be back to his old self. I am not confident in Miami repeating their success from last year and honestly think the Jets are probably the second best team right now and will be in the wild-card hunt and the division hunt until late in the year.