I'm sure that to many long suffering Jet fans new head coach Rex Ryan's talk about how "I didn't come here to kiss Bill Belichick's rings" must be exactly what they've wanted to hear, and why not? After all, save the odd season here and there Bill Belichick's Patriots have been the big man on campus in the AFC East for the better part of the last decade.
This season Ryan will get to find out up close and personal exactly why thirteen NFL head coaches have come and gone in the AFC East since Belichick first hung out his shingle in New England, and he's going to find out quickly that New Yorkers have heard it all before. If Ryan can deliver on his bravado he'll become a beloved NYC sports figure in much the same way that guys Joe Namath, Willis Reed and Mark Messier were before him. If Ryan can't deliver on his tough talk he will be run out of town faster than you can say Doug Brien.
Ryan comes from great NFL stock. His brother Rob is now the defensive coordinator with the Browns and his father Buddy was the defensive coordinator for both the Vikings "Purple People Eaters Defense" and the "46" defense he developed in Chicago helped the Bears become perhaps the greatest defense ever assembled. Ryan then moved on to Philadelphia where he helped turn the underachieving Eagles into defensive minded double digit winners.
Like their father before them both Rob and Rex Ryan are excellent defensive coaches, but there's a big difference between being an assistant head coach and a head coach. For all his defensive genius Buddy Ryan teams never won a playoff game in his career as a head coach (0-3) and Ryan's teams compiled only a 55-55-1 record in his seven years as head coach of the Eagles and Cardinals.
Rex Ryan's fired up attitude has been a breath of fresh air from the stale controlled years under former Jets HC Eric Mangini but talk alone isn't going to get the Jets passed the Patriots, who are and should be the heavy favorites to win the AFC East in 2009 despite Miami winning the AFC East over the Brady-less Patriots last year.
Ryan and Tannenbaum have at least on paper built a very solid defense. If the Jets can find somebody to get to the QB, the early returns say last years disappointment Vernon Gholston could be that guy, this Jet defense should be one of the better units in the NFL. While nothing really big should be expected early on what is clear is that Ryan has this Jets team moving in the right direction if he can stop providing bulletin board material every time he opens his mouth.
To quote the late King Elvis Presley, "a little less conversation, a little more action" would be good advice for Ryan right now. There's no need to try and sell the NY football fan a bill of goods, they know the difference between a team with bite and a team that only barks.