Keidel: Flyin’ Rex Ryan
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By Jason Keidel
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Our inner sporting clock is skewed, what with the Knicks duping us into believing NBA ball was played in May before they remembered that they were the Knicks and were promptly swept off the floor.
Then we have baseball, though this April has been a most moody month, with early rainouts and blackouts for iconic clubs like the Dodgers and Red Sox. We don’t often embrace our pastime until we’re assured we can stuff our coats into storage. The sport relies on weather almost as much as whether our teams are winning.
Then we have the NFL draft. But with no Bo Jackson on the board and no signed CBA, it feels that the NFL crack we’re smoking is more like an e-cigarette – synthetic, sterile, and insincere So we need a new source for our football fix.
Thankfully, we have Rex Ryan, the closest thing our town has to the Kingpin in cadence and contour, his guarantees always a few yards ahead of his deeds. Like the villain from Marvel Comics, Ryan’s countenance is as colorful as the flora blooming outside your bedroom window.
There’s no doubt that when Rex flexes his gums he gets fans geeked up for another run to the AFC Championship game, only to fall tantalizingly short of a Super Bowl that has eluded Gang Green since our parents sat on their hair in Sheep Meadow.
The large, loud coach largely regurgitates stories splashed across newspapers and Web sites during his turbulent, two-year tenure as HC of the NYJ. He said Kerry Rhodes was selfish. We knew that. He likes to tweak Tom Brady. We knew that. He said Vernon Gholston was a bum. We knew that before he did.
He said the Jets are better than the Giants. We don’t know that. It’s also a de facto declaration that he’s a better coach than Tom Coughlin. We don’t know that, either.
Ryan straddles the line between brave and boorish, and waddles along the tightrope between winner and loser. His colleague sharing his home field, Coughlin, has shown a public allergy to hubris, keeping it humble and painfully old school. But Coughlin has something Ryan does not: a Lombardi Trophy
This is the thorny, public portal Ryan enters. He has remolded the moribund Jets into contenders, but not champions. Since the bar was so low when he was hired, Ryan has the luxury of being hero and antihero by dint of two stints in the AFC title game. If he thinks he can stand on the prerogative of also-ran, he’s mistaken. He will be run out of town if he doesn’t wear the crown.
Like his father, Buddy, Rex has a keen mind for defense, but just like his pops he has yet to pop the membrane from leader of linebackers to master and commander of entire teams.
And the Jets have major issues at major positions. They have yet to sign Santonio Holmes or Braylon Edwards, a pair of titanic targets and security blankets for young quarterback Mark Sanchez. The left side of their offensive line is weak, and they need a replacement for the eternally injured Kris Jenkins.
Ryan is seizing on his psychic hold over New York. And for a media hungry for quotes, he feeds the beast and fills a notebook in minutes. The idea of an icon jotting his thoughts down for a ghostwriter is not new. But Ryan is setting a perilous precedent if he thinks his career arc need not bend over the top of the NFL. All he has established to this point is that the Jets are better than they were, which doesn’t take much, and that he’s fluent in assurances. Indeed, he ends his book with a pledge to Jets fans: “We’ve got a championship coming, and I can’t wait to celebrate with you!”
Celebrate he must, or he will be a bust. Just ask each of his predecessors since Weeb Ewbank.
Feel free to email me: Jakster1@mac.com