By Steve Lichtenstein
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It’s official. Rex Ryan, excised from the Jets the day after this past 4-12 season mercifully came to an end, will be the new head coach of the Buffalo Bills.
As a Jets fan, I’m supposed to feel … what, exactly?
Bitter? Depressed? Giddy?
How about none of the above?
I know full well what the Jets lost and what the Bills are getting in Ryan: a players’ coach who will have them playing hard, especially on defense. His exotic blitz schemes will wreak havoc on inexperienced quarterbacks around the league and, once in a while, some of the elite ones as well.
In other words, not too different from the Bills under Doug Marrone.
I also know that Ryan won’t be able to make the Bills leap into the upper stratosphere of the AFC — never mind vault over the Patriots in the East — until he finds a quarterback of his own who can win games with his arm.
And therein lies the con of hiring someone who has a reputation as a defensive whiz, but who comes from the same gene pool as a man who threw a punch at his offensive coordinator for perceived over-aggressiveness when his team had the ball.
By his own admission, Ryan prefers to outsource the offensive side of his team’s game plan, with the understanding that a prehistoric ground-and-pound attack is the team’s foundation.
That’s not all. Buffalo fans will also have to get used to disorganization on the sidelines that often results in a multitude of wasted timeouts, especially while on defense.
Finally, assuming Ryan brings over his staff from New York, player development will be an issue, as Ryan’s record with the Jets was mixed at best. You can blame upper management all you want for the Jets’ drafts over the years, but how many unheralded players — guys taken in the low rounds or undrafted — has Ryan developed into serviceable NFL contributors?
With Ryan, it’s not like he can take his and beat yours and then take yours and beat his.
Ryan served his purpose in New York, helping to change the culture into one where winning was expected. The two consecutive trips to the AFC Championship game in Ryan’s first two seasons put him somewhere in the top three coaches in the franchise’s sad history.
Even in the three-year downward spiral, Ryan was a hell of a lot better than Bruce Coslet, Joe Walton and village idiot Rich Kotite. I found him preferable to Herm Edwards, who did NOT, as he famously ranted, “play to win the game!” while he held the reins in New York (see: Jets/Steelers 2004 divisional playoffs).
Ryan was cursed with bean-counting bosses, men who could explain the minutiae in the league’s salary-cap system but couldn’t find a legitimate quarterback in Ryan’s five seasons.
Hopefully Jets owner Woody Johnson heeds consultants Charley Casserly’s and Ron Wolf’s advice and brings in someone with a successful personnel background to take charge of the organization after John Idzik’s tumultuous two seasons. If only Wolf pulled a Dick Cheney and recommended himself for the job…
That’s not going to happen, but at least the Jets are looking in the right direction. The New York Daily News reported that the Jets are set to name Texans director of college scouting Mike Maccagnan their new GM.
Maccagnan is expected to revamp the Jets’ underperforming scouting department and focus on turning over a roster that is deficient at many positions, not just quarterback.
And Maccagnan would also have a say as to who he wants to coach the team, which in the end was reason number one why Ryan had to go. It was alleged that the Jets lost out on more qualified candidates than Idzik back in 2013 because Johnson insisted on keeping Ryan.
That didn’t work out so well for anyone involved.
So now the best thing to do is to look forward. The Bills got their man and the Jets can start the process of rebuilding. Neither team has accomplished anything yet.
As for next season, I’m not going to feel extra upset or joyous upon the outcomes of the two Jets/Bills tangles just because Ryan is now on the opposite sideline.
For a FAN’s perspective of the Nets, Jets and the NHL, follow Steve on Twitter @SteveLichtenst1.
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