With Rex Ryan, They're Not the Same Old Jets

Cecil HarrisCorrespondent IJune 12, 2009

FLORHAM PARK, NJ - MAY 02:  Head coach Rex Ryan of the New York Jets holds up a picture of rookie running back Shonn Greene as he speaks to the media during minicamp on May 2, 2009 at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Four months into Rex Ryan’s tenure as head coach it's clear that his team isn't the same old Jets.

If the coach has his way—and he has already served notice that it’s his way or the highway—the Jets will no longer be an afterthought in the AFC East.

And no longer will the Jets struggle to attain a home field advantage at Giants Stadium, particularly against divisional foes (losses to the Patriots and Dolphins in 2008).

Everything about the Jets—from Ryan’s hands-on approach to practices during organized team activities (OTA), to his insistence on holding everyone accountable for their actions, including himself, to his refusal to defer to the Pats—says Gang Green will be more than just a nickname for this crew. 

First, Ryan made it clear at his introductory press conference that he’s looking forward to bringing his players to The White House to meet President Obama—a courtesy afforded only to league championship teams.

Then, during a New York radio interview Ryan said that he has no intention of kissing the Super Bowl rings of Pats coach Bill Belichick.

Instead, Ryan says, he’s determined to build a team that ends the Pats’ favored status in the AFC East.

Like his daddy, Buddy Ryan, the architect of the 4-6 defense that helped the Bears reign in the NFL in the mid-1980s, Rex Ryan doesn’t give a hoot if he or his team is well-liked around the league. He only cares that his team is respected, if not feared, for its hard-hitting, take-no-prisoners approach.
So it comes as no surprise that Ryan traded verbal jabs this week with Channing Crowder, the mouthy middle linebacker of the defending AFC East champion Dolphins.

"I don’t know this Channing Crowder," a smiling Ryan began at a news conference. "All I know is that he’s all [tattooed] up, so I guess I ought to be nervous about him."

Ryan saw no reason to lapse into coach-speak after Crowder’s jibe that the coach’s tough talk had made the Jets "Super Bowl champions of the mini-camps."

Instead, Ryan called out Crowder, without malice, and let everyone know it.

"Preparation in June does matter," Ryan said. "It’s what helps you win (during the season)."

And for good measure, Ryan added that he had walked over tougher guys than Crowder on the way to a fight, and were he younger than 46, he would manhandle Crowder himself.

"Oh, Lord have mercy," Crowder responded with a grin.

"What’s wrong with him? Now he’s talking about preparation. We play them twice this year. If he wants to be prepared, shouldn’t he know the starting middle linebackers of his division rival?"

Crowder may have been fooled. But Jets fans shouldn’t be.

Ryan, a stickler for preparation, knows full well who Crowder is and for whom he plays.

Ryan, as the Ravens defensive coordinator last season, devised a game plan that stifled Crowder’s team twice in Miami—once during the season and again in the playoffs.

Ryan might want to remind Crowder about that during their next round of verbal sparring:

"Hey, Crowder, sorry your defense had to spend so much time on the field against the Ravens last year because mine didn’t."

Something like that might work.

Although Crowder claimed today that after he called Ryan yesterday the feud is over, it's more likely that both sides agreed to a temporary detente.

Once the first Jets-Dolphins game draws near, the word wars will be back on.

And we can fully expect Joey Porter, Crowder’s even mouthier teammate, to dive into the verbal fray.

Ryan probably wouldn’t mind that at all. Nor should Jets fans.

Not only does Ryan’s willingness to write verbal checks for his players to cash add more interest to the Monday night game in Miami on October 12 and the rematch at the Meadowlands on November 1, but it also sends the message that the Jets no longer need an aging Brett Favre on their roster to get national attention.

Same old Jets? Hardly.


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