I like Rex Ryan. Unlike most in the New York media, I like his brashness and straight talk method of communicating. If you think your team is better and will win the game, why not say so if asked by the media?
All the talk of bulletin board material for the other team is way overblown. If professional football players need motivation for the ultimate physical game, then they probably do not belong on the field.
I loved what Ryan said after last weeks 37-0 shellacking of the Cincinnati Bengals: "I know one thing: You don't want to play us...you've got to be able to run the football this time of the year and you've got to be able to play defense. And we can do that better than any team in the league."
That is a great quote and aptly sums up his team. He was telling everybody all week that his Jets will win this week and, despite being the No. 5 seed, should be the team to beat in the AFC playoffs.
I like that attitude, as I like it when Dallas Cowboy head coach Jimmy Johnson called into a Dallas radio station a few days prior to their second NFC title game against the San Francisco 49ers, and told the host on the air that his team will win the game that Sunday.
The Cowboys won that game 38-21.
Ryan, though, is a chip off the ol' block, very similar to his father, Buddy Ryan*, the legendary creator of the blitz-happy 46 defense. Rex's Jets run a version of the 46, more ready to deal with the quick pass offenses which permeate the NFL today. This defense mainly works if you have good cover corners, and a very athletic and quick front seven.
*Interstingly, Rex is also similar to Johnson, a man who Ryan's father hated with a passion. Buddy graduated from Oklahoma State, a team Johnson coached before he bolted to take the University of Miami job. Buddy always hated Johnson for that and is the main reason why Buddy put out those bounties on several Cowboys players in that infamous 1989 "Bounty Bowl" Thanksgiving game during Johnson's first year in Dallas.
But running the same type of defense (and running their mouths) are not the only things the Ryan boys have in common. Buddy got his NFL coaching start as linebackers coach on the 1968 Jets team which won Super Bowl III. He was a big part of the defensive scheme that limited the potent Baltimore Colts attack to seven points. Until this 2009 team, that Jets team is the last one to lead the NFL in total defense.
It was with the Jets that Ryan first began to use the 46 defense.
Buddy then moved on to Minnesota where he brought his prickly style to Vikings country as defensive coordinator. His style of all out pursuit of the quarterback terrorized my favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys. That might be one reason why Tom Landry revitalized the shotgun formation, to keep his quarterback, Roger Staubach, away from those defenders.
Buddy Ryan's defenses MADE other teams change. And apparently so does his son Rex's defense.
Rex employs that similar style, full pursuit of the quarterback and ball carriers with more guys charging forward than an offense can block. Also very similar to his defenses in Baltimore when he was defensive coordinator of the Ravens. What helps his defense is that he has two good cover cornerbacks, including a great one in Darrelle Revis.
As Rex pointed out above, all great teams have great running games and strong defenses.
And when you run the ball in the playoffs, you are more likely to win the Super Bowl. A look at all the Super Bowls shows basically one team which passed its way to the Lombardi Trophy, those 1999 St. Louis Rams who had over 400 yards passing and only 29 yards on the ground. But it did take an open field tackle to seal that victory.
While other teams, most notably the Joe Montana led 49ers and the Joe Gibbs led Redskins had big passing day, they also ran the ball very well that day, churning up yards on the ground.
This kept the ball out of the opponents hands and when they had a lead, it took time off the clock. Running the ball well and playing stout defense wins Super Bowls.
Even in the pass happy last two decades of football, those teams which do not run the ball well usually do not win.
While the Jets beat the Colts a couple weeks ago and ruined their perfect season, the Jets were playing the same type of game as the 1972 Miami Dolphins were - great ground game and tough defense.
Ironically, the Jets this year and the New York Giants two years ago winning over the New England Patriots, beat those undefeated teams in the same style as the team those prior undefeated teams were chasing.
That undefeated Dolphins team won three games in the playoffs that season. Guess how many times they threw the ball in those three games.
Forty (40) times. That was their passing attempts total for three games.
Mark Sanchez does not have to throw the ball much at all today for the Jets to win the game. Especially if the wind is whipping in Cincinnati.
But no matter how the Jets fare today (and I believe they will win and beat the Colts next week if they play them again), the Jets are poised to make a long run at the top of the AFC because of their ability to run the ball effectively and play great defense.
And that is due to Rex Ryan's style of football, one which has shown to be a winning style no matter the era or weather conditions.