Rex Ryan's Perfect Offseason Should Have Jets Fans Excited

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Rex Ryan's Perfect Offseason Should Have Jets Fans Excited
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Even after an 8-8 season last year and a seat at home for the playoffs, America's obsession with the New York Jets has continued in 2012, stronger than ever.  

While the media has done their best to ridicule, underestimate and mock the Jets, Rex Ryan has risen above all of this and quietly (yes, quietly) gone about having an excellent offseason.  

The first steps started after a season-ending debacle against the Dolphins, before the team even landed back in New Jersey, as Jenny Vrentas of the Newark Star-Ledger notes.

Ryan pulled veteran leader Brandon Moore aside on the team plane and had a lengthy conversation about where Ryan went wrong with his players.  He got an honest and probably disheartening dose of the truth from the veteran guard.

From that point, Ryan knew he had to change, and he did.

He humbly admitted to the media his mistakes (how many times do you see head coaches do that?) and vowed the world would see a different Ryan beginning immediately.

Ryan has spent the offseason building fractured relationships while toning down the bravado. He stayed out of the limelight so much that when he reappeared, he had lost more than 100 pounds and looked like a different person.

Ryan made some small changes in the semantics of his organization that had the ancillary effect of him being more available to his players.  It may have seemed like a small change to just move his media availability earlier in the day, but it provided more one-on-one time if players needed it.

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Earlier this summer, Ryan had the coaches attend a rigorous leadership retreat organized by the United States Army in an effort to build chemistry among his staff.  This week, he sent 19 starters off to the same seminar.  

While this isn't any kind of groundbreaking idea, it is a very big step taken in an effort to continue with the Jets' team-building.  Yet, it received only a fraction of the media attention of Tim Tebow running through the rain shirtless. 

One of the most public issues facing the Jets at the end of last season was Santonio Holmes' place in the organization.

After his Week 17 meltdown, fans and media clamored for his release, and the general feeling was that he could no longer exist in the locker room.  

Holmes' contract pretty much prevented an outright release or trade, so the only option was to mend fences.  Sometime during the two weeks after Holmes' outburst while he was being vilified in the media, Ryan invited Holmes to his house to meet with Sanjay Lal, a potential (and eventual winning) candidate for the Jets' receivers coaching job.

The Jets weren't going to hire Lal without Holmes' input.

So while the know-it-all media was saying that Holmes, Ryan and Sanchez couldn't exist together, Ryan was actually giving Holmes input on staff hires and already moving forward in building relationships in the 2012 season.

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The new Ryan hasn't been all wine and roses, though.  

There have been incidents in which Ryan has put his foot down and made it abundantly clear to his team and anyone paying attention that he was indeed back in charge.

Ryan has publicly dressed-down young players like Jeremy Kerley and Quinton Coples when needed and even took action against a small outbreak of scuffles in training camp.

He has also resorted back to humor in dealing with situations that wouldn't gain play in the media on any team except the Jets.  

When Chaz Schilens took exception to Antonio Cromartie declaring himself the Jets' second-best receiver, Ryan defused the situation with levity, saying the only thing that surprised him was that he didn't say he was the team's best.

The Jets' most current brush-fire that needs extinguishing has been the play of their offense in the preseason.  Ryan has handled that situation perfectly as well.

The media, Jets-haters and Joe Namath like to say that the Jets are more concerned about the headlines than winning.  If that was the case, Ryan could have easily used a more advanced offense in the team's preseason game against the Panthers, including a modified Wildcat package.

However, while the national media was busy ridiculing the Jets offense, Ryan continued to play coy and keep every aspect of the Wildcat secretive, ready to be unleashed against the Bills.  

It was a case of not compromising his staff's beliefs to appease the growing outrage of the fanbase and media.  Ryan has simply expressed quiet optimism about the progress his offense has been making without sounding braggadocios, saying the team is going "in the right direction."

He is a realist as well, though, admitting that the offense is a work in progress.  It might be difficult to believe, but between the fans and the media, Ryan is actually the one who has been the most even-keeled and realistic throughout this situation.

Finally, the biggest thing regarding the Jets this preseason as far as everyone else is concerned has been Tebow.  Again, Ryan has been the realist here.  He has expressed confidence that Tebow can be a dangerous weapon while also showing complete support for Sanchez as the team's starter.

Tebow hasn't had a single rushing play called the whole preseason, showing the world how inferior he is to Sanchez as a quarterback.  At the same time, for those paying attention and watching every pass he has thrown, Sanchez has shown incredible improvement in his accuracy and decision-making.  

It's not like Ryan wants Tebow to fail, but Ryan is content to get a first-hand look at Tebow the passer instead of trying to win meaningless preseason games.

It's been a good six months for Ryan from a personal and professional standpoint.  He has made the necessary changes to his personality, and that is something that can't come easy for a 49-year-old football lifer.

Whether that now extends to success on the field remains to be seen.  Ryan's 2012 will ultimately be judged by wins and losses, as it should be.  If the team goes out there and finishes .500 or lower this year, all of Ryan's personal changes will go for naught.

However, if the Jets show the camaraderie they did in Ryan's first two years and have a successful season, the first person to get credit should be the head coach.

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