In his three full seasons as head coach of the New York Jets, Eric Mangini was a remarkably consistent presence. He never did or said a single interesting thing. If you were to cut open Mangini, there is every reason to believe he would be filled head to toe with corkwood. Now that he has been replaced by Rex Ryan, things are going to get weird for the Jets. In fact they already have.
Rex Ryan is a funny, even absurd man. He has promptly done some amusing, ill considered things, such as mock the brilliant Bill Belichick and his Patriots (“How many people are intimidated by that defense?”), pilloried former Ravens head coach Brian Billick, who gave him his first job as a professional coordinator, for not giving him his first job sooner (“Basically, I got fucked. Brian never knew me. It was a crock of shit”) and even engaged in an inane back and forth with Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder, a public dispute which will not soon be mistaken for the Lincoln-Douglas debates (“I’ve walked over tougher guys going to a fight than Channing Crowder.”)
If there is a strategic purpose or rationale for engaging in this sort of unfiltered ranting, it is not immediately apparent. In fact, I am sure it has no purpose at all, except to elucidate two certainties regarding Rex Ryan and the new look Jets:
1) It’s going to be uproarious.
2) They will never, ever win anything of significance as long as he is coach.
In his memoir Chronicles, Bob Dylan muses about learning the advantages of legacy at an early age. “Family connections were legitimate. You couldn’t blame anyone for having them.” Rex Ryan is a legacy coach if ever there was one. His father Buddy Ryan was an inimitable figure in professional football for decades: an innovative defensive mastermind, a sharpie, a charlatan, a goofball and a world historic prick. It seemed that everyone who ever came to work with Buddy Ryan — save for the personnel of his prized defenses — came quickly to despise him. He alienated owners, fellow coaches and executives. He placed injury bounties on the heads of opposing players. Essentially he behaved like the NFL’s very own answer to a James Bond villain. As head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals during the 80s and 90s, Ryan’s massive arrogance was always — ALWAYS — a lock to undermine his considerable strategic and motivational acumen. Ultimately, Buddy Ryan never won anything that mattered as a head coach, and what makes Rex Ryan so intriguing is that he seems determined, or perhaps condemned, to follow in his father’s ruinous path.