- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rex appeal

Rex Ryan might not know it, but he is teaching us a valuable lesson. Yes, kids, NFL coaches are people, too.

Well, some of them, anyway.

Loose and outspoken, Ryan represents a clear departure from the bland, uptight, quasi-paranoid (sometimes you can omit the “quasi”) persona that seems to be a prerequisite for the job. The first-year New York Jets coach regularly and refreshingly violates the first commandment of coaching: “Thou shalt not speak thy mind, especially if it might rile up thy opponent.”

His latest venture as a real person was a recorded message for Jets season-ticket holders to come out in full voice and numbers for Sunday’s home game against New England. Among other things, Ryan said: “You know, I’ve already admitted that, hey, the Patriots have a better head coach and they’ve got a better quarterback than us. But we’re going to see who’s got a better team.”

Whether such candor (or sarcasm) might actually help the Jets, who have lost eight straight at home to the Patriots, remains to be seen. But it’s fun to see a brash, confident coach tweaking the supposed rules of order and the establishment — which includes the Patriots’ zipped-up Bill Belichick, a great coach with the public personality of a cabbage. Maybe one need not depend on the other.

Right here we have Washington Redskins coach Jim Zorn, who displays his human side in a folksy, eclectic, New Age kind of way. But he knows where to draw the line, avoiding confrontation, controversy or anything snarky. Ryan apparently relishes it.

But he is far more than a stand-up act. He has earned the players’ respect and knows his X’s and O’s. He can coach. Following the wound-way-too-tight Eric (Injury? What injury?) Mangini, Ryan is a gust of fresh air whistling through the Jersey Meadowlands and the rest of the league. All he has to do now is win.

He said what?

“He just doesn’t get it. He doesn’t understand that he represents a great head coach and the rest of those players on that team. Somebody needs to talk to him.”

— Former NFL coach Mike Martz on quarterback Jay Cutler’s postgame news conference after he threw four interceptions in Chicago’s loss to Green Bay

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