Rex Ryan Will Have to Adjust More Than the New York Jets' Attitude

Angel Navedo@NamedAngelSenior Writer IJune 8, 2009

FLORHAM PARK, NJ - MAY 02:  Head coach Rex Ryan of the New York Jets walks on the field during minicamp on May 2, 2009 at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The rest of the NFL is finally catching on. Rex Ryan's bravado will not allow anyone to misinterpret his intentions with the New York Jets in 2009.

He's in New York to change the culture.

In a league dominated by agent-prepared statements and predictable commentary, having a head coach who speaks from the heart should come as an electric shock to the bloodstream.

It should be a breath of fresh air—something he's been pumping into the tri-state area since January.

Criticism of his confidence is premature. It should be clear that throwing caution to the wind was essential for Ryan as he lays the groundwork for the Jets' new identity.

While the attitude is good for quotes and bulletin board material around the league, the most important adjustment Ryan has to make to Jets' culture has to happen on the field.

Before all of his words are dismissed as steam from a first-time coach, Ryan's first order of business has to revolve around helping his Jets unlearn the complacency Eric Mangini instilled during his three-year reign.

A Tale of Two Halves

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The New York Jets were a Jekyll and Hyde of sorts under Mangini.

From 2006 through 2008, the first two quarters of Jets' football were usually exciting to watch. The offense would execute and the defense made impressive stops when necessary.

In Mangini's three seasons as head coach, the Jets held halftime leads on 23 different occasions. Of those 23 games, they only lost three times—all of them during the abysmal, injury-plagued 2007 campaign.

Of their 20 victories, the Jets led by 10 points or more at the half in nine games. The only time New York built upon their lead was in a 47-3 blowout victory over the St. Louis Rams in 2008.

Outside of that one game, the Jets were consistently outscored in the second half after holding substantial leads.

To hold a two-score lead over an opponent and allow them to dictate the pace of the game is unacceptable.

Unless a game was completely out of reach, Mangini was seemingly unprepared for his opponent's halftime adjustments—adjustments that Mangini couldn't counter.

Either he was too arrogant to deviate from his strategy, or he was naïve enough to assume that the gameplan would work as scripted.

The halftime woes also work in the opposite direction.

Under Eric Mangini, the Jets never won a game in the second half if they didn't already hold the lead, regardless of the margin. If the Jets were losing at halftime, the game was essentially finished.

The Jets trailed at the half in 16 regular-season contests. Behind by a touchdown or more in 10 of those games, the Jets never came within more than seven points of victory.

The only two games where the Jets came close were in a 24-17 loss to the New England Patriots in 2006, and a 20-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in 2007. They were down by 17 points and 14 points at the half, respectively.

Otherwise, the Jets would completely collapse and barrel down Mangini's path of futile football. 

This cannot continue under Rex Ryan.

Adjusting From Mental to Physical

If you remember Steve Emtman's words of wisdom in 1994's Little Giants, then you should already know that football is 80 percent mental and 40 percent physical.

His math is only wrong to people who don't understand the game. Winning is all about knowing how to use that extra 20 percent.

While Mangini was credited for his commitment to the mental aspect of the game, his issues as a head coach are proof-positive of his inability to balance the percentages.

"(Mangini) is very cerebral," said special-teams coordinator Mike Westhoff on Michael Kay's ESPN radio show in January.

"He's very much a film coach. He studies it, he loves to watch the film, (and) he loves to teach off it. Sometimes there's a little transition that gets lost between that and the field."

The contrast to Rex Ryan is astounding.

In his introductory press conference, Ryan promised that his Jets will be more physical from the onset.

Now fans only have to hope that the Mad Scientist's mental sacrifices will be what's necessary for developing a winning formula.

While Mangini studied film, it's Rex Ryan's defense that focuses on what's happening on the field. His organized chaos guarantees a fluid, ever-changing adjustment.

It's a system that will allow players to succeed on their own terms while chasing one objective: pound the other team and make them want to quit.

That philosophy alone makes Ryan's Jets superior to Mangini's.

After three seasons of Jets' football being all about the process, it's exciting to know that the future is in the hands of a coach who flourishes with the unpredictable nature of the game.