While most fans are on board the Rex Ryan bandwagon, a few skeptics remain. These individuals worry Rex became a hot commodity because he inheirited a lot of talent in Baltimore, not because he built a defense. Baltimore has possessed a great defense for close to a decade. Marvin Lewis built the unit, which won a Super Bowl and was largely responsible for landing him a head job with the Bengals. Mike Nolan then maintained what Lewis built and got a head coaching job with the 49ers. Neither man maintained the level of success they attained in Baltimore without such surrounding talent. Perhaps Ryan will fall to the same fate.
To put one's mind at ease, one must only look at the two free agents the Jets signed from Baltimore. Bart Scott and Jim Leonhard were both undrafted free agents when they entered the league. Ryan nurtured both into desired free agents. Even though no talent evaluator in the league thought either had the talent to invest a Draft pick in when they came out of school, both of them received multiple lucrative offers before signing with the Jets. This record of development is pretty impressive. One might argue that the Baltimore front office had an eye for overlooked talent. This is true to a degree. Ozzie Newsome is one of the NFL's best talent evaluators. However, neither player attained this level of success before encountering Ryan. Leonhard in particular seemed destined for a career as a journeyman backup. His stint with his first team, the Bills was unremarkable.
If anybody questions how much Ryan meant to their respective developments, one only needs to point to how quickly they jumped to join the Jets. Money played a major factor, but would either player have been so eager to sign without playing the field more if they did not feel Ryan would maximize their ability? Would Leonhard have turned down a bigger offer from Denver?
This is encouraging news for Rex's ability as a head coach. He gets the most out of his players. Maybe he can tap the unharnessed natural ability a player like Vernon Gholston has. Many felt the Jets had great talent on the defense a year ago. The schemes they ran did not maximize the output. Ryan's demonstrated ability to do so along with a first class X's and O's education from his father, Buddy, make Ryan look like a promising head coach.