The reasons for not hoisting the Lombardi trophy vary for this Jets team—but has Ryan himself, as a coach, finally become ready to lead this team to the Super Bowl?
As a head coach, confidence is a must. There is a fine line between confidence and ignorance though, and Ryan has often stood on that line. After two botched attempts at predicting his team to win the big game, Coach Ryan has finally decided to end his days of predicting success.
At the scouting combine earlier this year, the brash coach of the Jets shed some light on his past predictions, as reported in a story by Greg A. Bedard for The Boston Globe:
The infamous Super Bowl guarantee was here. Looking back, obviously, it was a huge mistake to make that guarantee. At the time, we were coming off two AFC Championship games, I really thought it would be a thing that would actually motivate our team, you know to really talk about the Super Bowl, to focus on the Super Bowl. But, in hindsight, I think it put undue pressure on our team and we kind of lost focus, and really we lost focus on what we do best.
Modesty is a newly-found territory for Ryan, but it serves his team in a more productive way.
The media, as almost always, will put play on a coach's words and add an unwanted feeling of pressure to a team. This holds true for Ryan, possibly more than any other coach in the NFL. Admitting his mistakes is the first step to relieving the pressure he has helped put upon a very talented team.
Beyond regretting his predictions, Ryan has also decided he will have a much larger role in his team's defense this upcoming season. We have all learned from his days as defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens and now a head coach in New York, that Ryan is one of the best defensive minds in the game.
Getting back to the roots of what made him so successful is another step toward the Super Bowl.
Darrelle Revis, the Jets' Pro Bowl cornerback whom many believe to be the best in the league, had a lot to say about his coach's returning interest in the defense. As reported by Brian Costello of the New York Post, Revis had this to say:
He did fade off a little bit. I don’t know the reason for it. He’s a head coach. He has a lot on his plate. It’s a lot of pressure. It’s just something that maybe he thought he put more trust in the coaching staff and seeing that it kind of hurt us a little bit last year. Not to frown on any coaches or how they coach—it’s good to see your head coach being involved and maybe just putting his two cents in, just hearing his voice every now and then in the meeting room. I think it’s good.
As every team in the league knows, the Jets are loaded with talent and skill on the defensive side of the ball. The defensive-minded coach returning his interest in defense only makes this team stronger, and it gives the rest of the NFL another reason not to take the Jets lightly.
A coach has the most significant role for a team, but the formula to success is also weighed heavily by the players themselves. Ryan has done a good job filling voids while making his team stronger, both through free agency and the NFL draft.
In the first round of the NFL draft this past April, Ryan and the Jets selected two players that will offer immediate contributions: defensive end Quinton Coples and wide receiver Stephen Hill.
Although Coples is a talent that will surely make this defense better under Ryan, Hill is the key to helping the coach lead this team to the Super Bowl.
Last year, the Jets ranked 20th in the NFL in receiving yards, and the lack of an option opposite Santonio Holmes was clear. A 6'4", 215-pound receiver out of Georgia Tech, Hill runs a time of 4.36 seconds in the 40-yard dash and has all the right potential to fill that void on the depth chart.
The road to the playoffs and Super Bowl for the Jets is not an easy one, especially since they have lost the division to the New England Patriots every year since the Ryan era has begun—but all the pieces in order to do so have now been provided by the coach.
Now, it is up to the players to perform. Coach Ryan has refined his attitude and implanted himself back into the heart of the defense. His role has changed from a media-loving coach to a leader. The attitude of Coach Ryan often had the light feeling of laughter, but now has the feel of a serious leader ready to compete and lead his team to the game that matters the most: the Super Bowl.