Trevor Pryce, who played for Rex Ryan with both the Ravens and the Jets, wrote a piece in for the New York Times about the coach's flaws.
If every team had the exact same talent level on its roster, and commanding an N.F.L. sideline involved nothing more than X’s and O’s, Ryan would be one of the more revered coaches in sports. He is a brilliant strategist, a man who works to the point of exhaustion and possesses a passion for and knowledge of football that is unmatched. Combine that with the fact that no coach in the N.F.L knows how to get more out of less, and you have the makings of a perennial championship contender.
Sadly for Ryan’s fans and friends, being a head coach these days has very little to do with X’s and O’s and more to do with your personality. And the two personality traits that are stopping him from being a great head coach are the same two that make him a great human being: He is loyal to the point of defiance, and he cares enormously about the people around him.
Pryce by all accounts was one of Rex's favorite players and has a great deal of admiration for Rex so this is telling.
Through the grapevine, I have heard similar things about Rex. It's something I've noticed in how he talks. You hear it when he talks about how hard Eric Smith works, as though hard work will overcome his severe physical limitations. You heard it when he talked about how much he believes in Mark Sanchez as though his belief will teach Sanchez how to read a defense. You saw it when the team delayed its own search for an offensive coordinator last year to do Brian Schottenheimer a favor by not firing him. This isn't sixth grade. If you don't do your job well in the NFL, you get fired. If that hurts your search for another job, too bad. You should have done your current job better.
It has become distressing to hear some of Rex's comments this year because he gives off the indication that he really believes that if you are a nice person and work hard, you are going to succeed in the NFL. I think there are three real problems with Rex. He plays favorites. He doesn't hold people accountable. He doesn't take responsibility for the offense. These all go back to the same issue. Bart Scott sees the field too much because he's a favorite. Rex wants to stick by him. Mark Sanchez isn't benched for poor play until it's too late. There's no accountability because Rex wants to stick by him. Matt Cavanaugh is a terrible quarterbacks coach harming the offense, but Rex wants to stick by him.
Rex's sense of loyalty is nice in a way, but it is the wrong kind of loyalty. He's frequently loyal to one person at the expense of the rest of the team. He hurts the many to protect the individual. Whether he stays or not, this needs to change.