ESPN has put up a poll questioning whether Rex Ryan is overrated as a coach. In other words, it has put up a poll that will divide the NFL fan base between Jets and other knowledgeable fans and other angry, jealous, and misinformed fans. Let’s break this one down, shall we?
Yes, he has been to AFC title games as a head coach in two years. But look beyond the numbers and records, examine what he has accomplished to get to this point. He started in the college ranks, at the likes of Moorhead State and worked his way to an assistant with the Ravens before taking over as defensive coordinator. As a coordinator and head coach, he has not fielded a defense ranked lower than 6th in the NFL.
In his first year with the Jets, he turned a defense ranked 29th in pass defense to #1, and #1 in defense overall.
More importantly, he has given the Jets an identity. The "Ground and Pound" philosophy carried the Jets through their rookie QB’s woes into the AFC title game. He has turned the Jets into a elite organization, a transformation from the former identify of hiding under the shadow of the Patriots in their own division and the Giants in their own building. When you play against the Jets, one is hardly excited and giddy. The Jets are the talk of the town, and not just because Rex likes to talk – Rex likes to win.
Go ahead and ask an ESPN talking head if they think John Harbaugh is overrated. Or even Mike Smith. Because they have, according to these "experts", better QB play, which apparently these days is the only determining factor in a football game. As it turns out, Rex has had more successful seasons than both of these coaches.
"Well, Rex has a more talented team!"
That’s because Rex knows how to deal with players that other coaches can’t. Rex was the one who convinced Mike Tannenbaum to trade for Santonio Holmes. You don’t think the Steelers called every NFC team before calling the Jets? Mike Smith and every other NFC coach (and many AFC coaches) could not "handle" the pot-smoking wideout.
"But Rex talks too much! His expectations are much higher!"
Well, because he isn’t afraid to say what he feels and be a genuine person. I can promise you, every coach is saying the same thing to their players. If you have played organized sports, I’m sure your coaches have told you how much better you are than everyone else. In this league, if you don’t win, you will lose your job.
It is like everything else in life. If you want an "A" on a paper, do you study for a "B"? If you want to lose 10 pounds, do you lose 5 before quitting your diet? If you do, you fall short of your goals. Same thing applies to the NFL. If you aim to just win the division or make the playoffs, that is your maximum potential, and there’s a good chance you’ll fall short.
Finally, at which point is Rex "overrated"? Who has placed him among the ranks of the greatest coaches? Because placing him among the best new coaches in the league is an accurate placement. Placing him at the best coach in the AFC or even the league is arguable.
Because if I had the choice, I would turn down every single coach to coach my team until I got Rex Ryan.
That includes you, Bill.