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Brash Ryan leads Jets resurgence

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Neil Reynolds | 11:52 UK time, Tuesday, 22 September 2009

There is a common misconception when it comes to NFL head coaches. The assumption often made is that they are well-trained in how to deal with the media and therefore offer up more colourful quotes than their counterparts in the soccer world.

I beg to differ - try sitting through one of Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid's media conferences as he grunts an array of one-word answers and truncated sentences and you'll be crying out to go and watch some paint dry.

American football head coaches can be just as guilty of spewing out classics such as "we're taking it one game at a time" or "they are a fantastic team and we really respect them."

It can all become a little mind-numbing and that's why New York Jets rookie head coach Rex Ryan is a breath of fresh air.

Rex RyanHe is the son of former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator and Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals head coach Buddy Ryan.

Now, Buddy is still going strong - I saw him at Jets' mini camp in New York in June - and he is loving the brash way his son is going about his business in the NFL. Ryan senior was a walking controversy - he once called a time out with just seconds remaining so he could run up the score and inflict further pain on the Dallas Cowboys and it was even alleged he put a bounty on Dallas players during one game in the 1990s.

And he loved to tell everyone how good he was. The only time he was momentarily silenced was when he choked on a pork chop in a restaurant and it nearly killed him.

Rex Ryan is cut from the same cloth. He arrived in New York to a packed media conference room and said he expected a bigger crowd of journalists when he sat there with the Super Bowl trophy in the near future.

He also told the media he didn't come to New York to "kiss Bill Belichick's rings" - the New England Patriots coach's Super Bowl rings, obviously - and he challenged Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder to a fight.

As well as being a defensive genius, Ryan is a man who doesn't take himself too seriously and he's not afraid to put himself in the spotlight. And his players love him for it - they would run through a wall for him and they also realise he has complete faith in them.

So far, it has paid off as the Jets have opened the year 2-0, including a big win over the Patriots. What Ryan has done a great job of is taking the focus and pressure off his players by putting himself in the firing line.

Mark Sanchez
Rex Ryan has taken a lot of the pressure off rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez

That approach has worked particularly well with rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez, who should be whipping the New York media into a frenzy with his fabulous start to life in the NFL.

Yet every time they turn their attention to Sanchez, Ryan comes up with another classic quote and shifts the focus away from the players. Unlike his father, who felt the need to be in the spotlight all the time, I think Rex is doing this for the good of his team and not for his own profile.

There may be trouble ahead for Ryan and the Jets, however, as the San Francisco 49ers have filed tampering charges against them. The Jets have, it is claimed, approached rookie receiver Michael Crabtree, who is holding out on the 49ers for a mega-bucks deal, and told him they will give him all the cash he wants in 2010 if they can draft him or trade for his rights at that time.

Legend has it that British football managers of old exchanged dodgy-looking brown paper envelopes in service stations. I doubt that sort of thing has happened off the New Jersey Turnpike, but this is something the NFL will look closely at.

For the time being, though, things are looking good for Ryan and his Jets.

You can catch Neil commentating on an NFL game every Sunday on BBC 5 live sports extra throughout the season.(UK users only).


  • Comment number 1.

    Living in the Midwest, Other than highlights I haven't had much of chance to see a Jets game yet. I was just curious to ask those who have if Sanchez's lack of turnovers (notably interceptions) is due to good passing/decision making or conservative play calling...?

  • Comment number 2.

    The Channing Crowder thing was very funny, when Crowder responded and Ryan said he's stepped over tougher guys than Channing Crowder to get to a fight, he's very good with the media, as you point out a comparison to Andy Reid couldn't be starker, unfortunately.

    Surprised they've been implicated in Crabtree's impasse with the 49er's, I just don't see a football team offering Crabtree the sort of money he wants after a year out of a game he's never played at NFL level, that's just got BUST written all over it.

  • Comment number 3.

    The trash-talk is a lot of fun, however Ryan's defensive scheming has been unbelievable. Sanchez has begun impressively, but the Jets are 2-0 after strangling the Texans and Patriots, two high powered passing attacks, with sensational defense.

    Next two weeks will be very interesting though - Tennessee next Sunday will give the Jets a face full of Chris Johnson, and then it's a trip to New Orleans. After this we'll know whether Rex Ryan's team are for real.

  • Comment number 4.

    I´m glad to see the mighty Patriots struggling and I´m happy to see a success starved team moving up. I´m absolutely convinced that the Jets are the second best franchise in New York. Oh, by the way, I´m a Giants fan

  • Comment number 5.

    @Chad Sexington (nice name!)

    I don't understand why more teams don't want Crabtree. Did you see him play at Texas Tech? He just abused every DB he came up against. I'm surprised the Redskins aren't interested in him. Crabtree's upside is Andre Johnson, who is just ridiculously good. He might be massively egocentric, but how many WRs aren't? I can't understand why he isn't signing the contract the 49ers are offering him, but if he knows that he can get double the cash next year then that might be a reason.

  • Comment number 6.


    Sorry but whatever Crabtree looked like in college you'd have to have concerns about his attitude, he'll have had a full year not playing a game and has never played a game at NFL level anyway and will be looking for a better contract than your first round pick next year, he's just a big bundle of problems, what the Jets do seem to have going for them at the moment is a great team spirit, Crabtree is just going to destroy that.

    The history of the NFL is littered with players who looked like future stars in college but ended up being just average in the NFL, look at Reggie Bush as a recent example.

    Yes Wide receivers do tend to have ego's but refusing to sign a contract because you don't agree with your draft slot? that's a whole new level.

  • Comment number 7.

    The Crabtree situation offers further proof of the need for a rookie cap.
    You have Marshall in Denver on the back of a breakout 2008 earning what ? less than $2m ? and a rookie who has done nothing but burn up a few college secondaries demanding 12 times as much ?
    Not that I would defend Marshall, he's acted like an idiot this Summer, but the comparison is valid.
    Also, what lifestyle differences are there for a guy who earns $23m compared to a guy that earns 'only' $16m ?
    Crabtree and his agent are a disgrace.
    NFL should bring in long suspensions for any rookie failing to agree a contract in the 5 months since the draft.
    Or set up an arbitration committee to broker a deal between any franchise and rookie who haven't agreed a deal by end Aug.
    NFL are very strong at dealing with disciplinary and conduct issues, they need to get hold of this (and others) situation.

  • Comment number 8.

    I know this article is about Rex Ryan but this whole Crabtree mess is really bugging me. Crabtree joing the 49ers now could potentially ruin the chemistry that Mike Singletary has spent the summer creating. Also, you get the sense that Singletary wouldn't have tolerated any diva behaviour from Crabtree - which he displayed throughout his college career.

    Whatever he did in college is effectively irrelevant as well - look at J.J Stokes and Rashaun Woods - both first round picks and both considered to have failed to live up to their potential. Stokes was a decent slot receiver (hardly what you expect for a first round pick) and Woods managed 7 catches in 2 years for the 49ers if I recall my stats correctly before being shipped to San Diego for a 5th round pick.

    The team chemistry seems more cohesive now than under Mike Nolan so why risk bringing in a potential disruption like Crabtree now? Plus, there's no guarantees from Crabtree's position that he would be drafted higher than 10th next year anyway - he could even fall out of the first round completely. Look at what happened with Mike Williams in Detroit - he was last seen trying out as a tight end for the Raiders...

    Okay, I'll shut up now.

    I do like Rex Ryan and I think he'll do a good job for the Jets - I just hope his personality doesn't become a bore over the course of the season.

  • Comment number 9.

    I agree completely with Grizzly-the-legend on Crabtree. A rookie cap with strict deadlines seems a good solution. I really hope he has to re-enter next years draft and ends up with 3rd round money. Which he then holds out on, and ends up working in Tesco (or American equivalent) for a fiver an hour.

    Can someone clear up for me what happens if he doesn't sign before Nov 17th? I've read conflicting things.

    But on the blog, I'd take Ryan any day over Dick "It's tough to win in the NFL/I'll watch the tape/I am a member of the living dead" Jauron. That isn't saying much though.

  • Comment number 10.

    I cannot see the Niners hurrying to sign Crabtree after their good start. Besides, they are more a team built around the running of Frank Gore and a strong defense. What good is a rookie playing catch-up going to be to them?

    Funny you should mention Rashaun Woods - he ended up in NFL Europe when I was covering that league. He played for the Hamburg Sea Devils. Utter rubbish - totally devoid of any passion and commitment.

    He had all the physical skills in the world but the great players in NFL history have all wanted to be great. Just look at Jerry Rice - his off-season training regime was an absolute killer but he drove himself on every single year. That's what separates the true greats from the rest of the pack - they work hard for their success.

    You can have all the natural talent in the world but you will only get so far if you don't have desire and passion. Woods never had it and I doubt Crabtree has too much of it either.

  • Comment number 11.

    @Chad Sexington

    People said that Randy Moss would destroy the Patriots team spirit. Didn't really happen did it? If a player is good enough he can be as utterly mental as he wants and teams will still love him (hello Mr Ochocinco). And if he's the nicest guy in the world but can't produce teams won't hesitate to get rid of him.

    Rookie WRs very very rarely produce much in their first year (Calvin Johnson - 800 yards, Reggie Wayne - 300 yards, Steve Smith - 150 yards), so losing him for this year isn't a massive problem for the 49ers (or more accurately whichever team manages to swing a trade with the 49ers for him).

    I do see Crabtree's point about the slotting system - the 49ers were delighted to pick him at #10 because they felt he would have been picked by that point, but are only offering him a contract as if they think he is worse than #9 and better than #11. The slotting system IMO is a bit ridiculous - you shouldn't have an OLB like Curry earning more than a QB like Sanchez simply because he was taken a pick earlier - the Seahawks shouldn't be financially punished for not wanting a QB!

    All that being said, at the end of the day surely Crabtree has to accept that his market value now IS what the 49ers are willing to pay him, not what another team might want to pay him if they could. And he has to accept that given a) the perception of teams about how he's acting and b) the labour situation at the moment, he's very unlikely to be drafted as high as he was this year, and there might not even be games next year for him to get paid if even if he does somehow get drafted higher than #10, and even if there are games and he does get drafted higher than #10 there might well be a new CBA in place with a severely reduced rookie salary pot meaning teams won't even be able to pay him as much as he wants even if they wanted to.

    Basically, he should be firing whoever is giving him the advice not to sign as quickly as possible. I can't see how this reflects well on his agent either, because who is going to want to draft a guy represented by that guy in the future, given that he's going to advise his client not to sign.

    Also, before this article I didn't realise Rex Ryan was so fat.

  • Comment number 12.

    Wow, that comment was much longer than intended. Back to work....

  • Comment number 13.

    Or not...

    @Cal Bills

    My understanding of the rookie deadlines system is this: the rights to an unsigned rookie can be traded up to a certain date in August, which has obviously passed, so the only way Crabtree could be traded is if the 49ers first sign him. The trading deadline is in week 6.

    November 17 is the last date that a rookie can sign with the team that drafted him. I think after the season there is a certain period during which an unsigned rookie can be traded, but I'm not sure when that is. So if the 49ers don't sign him by November 17 and don't trade him then he will reenter the draft next year.

    If he gets drafted again and doesn't sign again he would become a free agent after next season (I think).

  • Comment number 14.

    "November 17 is the last date that a rookie can sign with the team that drafted him. I think after the season there is a certain period during which an unsigned rookie can be traded, but I'm not sure when that is. So if the 49ers don't sign him by November 17 and don't trade him then he will reenter the draft next year."

    Also to add to this although he would be able to re-enter next years draft if the 49ers dont sign him; he cant actually workout for individual teams or in fact have contact with them until the night before the draft.

    Crabtree is really in a no win situation.
    Whether people agree with the slotting system and whether Crabtree thinks he is better than DHB (picked 7) its irrelevant. Pick 10 gets pick 10 money simple, less than pick 9 and more than pick 11.
    The 49ers are pounding the ball so much they dont need him anyway (this was definately a best player on the board pick rather than a position of need). Singletary doesnt care for having to spend time getting a rookie WR upto speed.
    If Crabtree doesnt sign then he wont get more money next year because none of the teams will pick him in the first round let alone the top 10.
    Any team taking him now is going to question his attitude but this isnt a Boldin/ Marshall "ive got the yards/ TD's/ Pro Bowl performance now pay me the money" attitude its an unjustified/ unproven attitude.

  • Comment number 15.

    @Ravens Defense

    Yeah, its not like the 49ers are trying to be cheap like the Bengals were (successfully!) with Andre Smith - the 49ers are offering him good money for the slot, especially given that Raji got a really good deal at #9.

  • Comment number 16.

    Thanks CB, that's more or less what I thought. I read somewhere about trading him/his rights in March time. Cheers for clearing it up.

    I guess my other question would be if he was to re-enter the draft would the Niners get a compensation pick @ 33? I can't find any mention of this when it has happened, but it seems a little harsh since SF appear to be offering reasonable terms.

  • Comment number 17.

    As I understand it if he goes back into the draft the 9ers get zip.


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