Rex Ryan Optimistic On Jets’ Future, Despite Changes And Drama
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Jets coach Rex Ryan and owner Woody Johnson faced the music Tuesday, delivering their much-anticipated postmortem on a tumultuous 2012 season.
The big, bold statements are back — and so is Ryan. This certainly was Rex: Reloaded.
“I’m approaching this day like it’s the first day. Period,” a fired-up Ryan said. “Like my first day as a head coach. This is a new chance for me. This is a beginning, certainly not an end.”
Ryan insisted the Jets would return to form as “a dangerous football team.”
“I can promise you that,” he said.
And, as far as Johnson is concerned, that future begins with Ryan, who acknowledged he was concerned he might be fired after the season because he “failed” to leave his imprint on all aspects of the team. But Johnson said that was never a scenario in his mind.
“I think Rex Ryan is perfect for the New York Jets,” Johnson said. “He is 100 percent this team.”
Johnson likened Ryan to the team’s fans: “He’s hard-working. He’s very smart, sophisticated.”
Fitting right in with Gang Green’s recent history, this wasn’t any typical presser. On the docket? The firing of general manager Mike Tannenbaum. Tony Sparano’s dismissal. Mark Sanchez. Tim Tebow. Ryan’s yet-to-be-determined new boss.
“Last night, after thinking about it for a long time, I decided to let Tony Sparano go,” said Ryan.
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who turned down a contract extension this season, won’t be returning either. Ryan said Pettine “thinks it’s best to go to a different team.”
“I wish him all the best, unless he goes to Buffalo,” Ryan said. “I love Mike. I respect him.”
Then there’s Ryan’s tattoo — a likeness of his wife clad in a Mark Sanchez jersey — which turned the Internet on its head last week.
“Obviously, if Sanchez doesn’t play better, that number’s changing,” Ryan said.
Ryan hadn’t spoken publicly since the team’s season-closing loss in Buffalo on Dec. 30. Tannenbaum was fired the next day, and Ryan’s press conference, scheduled for 4:45 p.m., was postponed.
Ryan jetted to the Bahamas with his wife, where his previously unseen tattoo was photographed by the New York Daily News. The coach took plenty of heat for the disappearing act — WFAN radio host Mike Francesa ripped him for his “gutless” silence following Tannenbaum’s ouster.
It’s been quite the departure from Ryan’s early success and back-to-back AFC Championship game appearances with the Jets.
“We’re not going to be bullied,” Ryan said, his voice stern. “We might not win every game, and no team does. But you’ve got to stand for something. We’re going to be the team you don’t want to play.”
New York finished the season at 6-10 and missed the playoffs for a second straight year. Aside from their lowly record, there was controversy, controversy and more controversy. Oh, and a three-quarterback monster that headed one of the worst offenses in recent memory.
“It’s important to make sure we get a guy who understands exactly what we want,” Ryan said of the team’s search for a new offensive coordinator. “That attack mentality.”
Season-ending injuries to stars Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes didn’t help on either side of the ball. But Sanchez regressed — again — and backup Tim Tebow never found his groove in Sparano’s system.
“It is way too early to say what any of our players’ futures are,” Ryan said.
Ryan hinted that Pettine’s replacement would come from within the franchise, likely secondary coach Dennis Thurman, but didn’t want to announce anything since “the ink’s not dry.”
Special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff retired after the season, and will be replaced by his assistant, Ben Kotwica.
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