New Bills Head Coach Reflects On Working With Idzik, Early Success With Jets


PHOENIX (WFAN) — Rex Ryan agrees, the situation he’s walking into in Buffalo is similar to the one he just left with the Jets.

But he doesn’t care, because, to the surprise of absolutely no one, he says he has a plan.

The Jets’ former head coach sat down with WFAN’s Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts during Super Bowl XLIX media availability on Thursday and talked about what the future has in store for his new team while reflecting on his tenure with his old one.

Ryan, who went 50-52, including 4-2 in the playoffs during his six seasons with the Jets, said his former players are the only reason why he’s still a head coach in the NFL.

“I have put a little extra chip on my shoulder to say, you know what? It was embarrassing to me to be fired. It’s the first time I had ever been fired by myself. It affects a lot of people’s lives and, obviously, I loved the players that we had,” said Ryan, who signed a five-year, $27.5 million deal with the Bills two weeks ago. “They gave me everything. And the reason I got this job was through their efforts.”

Ryan said he never really considered going into television and had no desire to be a defensive coordinator again. And while the Bills appear to be a mirror image of the Jets personnel-wise, right down to serious question marks at quarterback, Ryan said he’s better equipped now to succeed with this type of roster.

“A big hire that I had was Dennis Thurman as my defensive coordinator. That’s my guy. I got the whole staff on defense up there and I have Donnie Henderson. We won a Super Bowl together in Baltimore. He’s the best secondary coach in football,” Ryan said. “And then when you go to the offensive side they bring in Greg Roman. All he did was go to three championship games, one Super Bowl as an offensive coordinator and he gets it. He totally gets it. Spreading people out, going three or four wide, stuff like that, makes sense. If you got Tom Brady or you are facing Tom Brady it makes sense. If you are a little less at the quarterback position, maybe there’s another way of doing things and I think we will definitely look at it. We will be as multiple on offense as we are on defense and I’m excited about it.”

Contrary to many reports that suggested he and former Jets general manager John Idzik didn’t see eye-to-eye on how to build a team, Ryan took the high road on Thursday, even suggesting the Jets are in much better shape now than they were during the season.

“You know, it’s unfortunate that it didn’t work out the way anybody wanted it to. Woody Johnson, I know, never wanted to fire me but when you win four games, that’s what happens in this league,” Ryan said. “I know John had a plan, but obviously that plan never worked out. When you look at it, he wanted to build a team on long-term success. There’s 50-something-million dollars they have in front of them right now and there is a good nucleus there.”

Ryan also dismissed a long-held belief that he had personnel control with the Jets.

“I never had the final say and, quite honestly, I won’t have the final say (in Buffalo),” he said. “It’s the process that’s important. It’s being all together and being recognized. Hey, you’re opinion means something, instead of somebody just grabbing a guy and trying to stick a square peg in a round hole.”

The crowning achievement of Ryan’s tenure with the Jets was the back-to-back AFC Championship game appearances in his first two seasons as head coach. The Jets lost to Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in the first title game, but got revenge on Manning in the first round of the 2010 playoffs.

Perhaps Rex’s greatest singular moment with the Jets came on Jan. 16, 2011, when his team went up to New England and handily beat Tom Brady and the Patriots to get back within one win of their first Super Bowl berth since 1969.

In the conference championship, the Jets then fell behind 24-0 to the Pittsburgh Steelers, before a furious second-half rally gave them a chance to pull off the improbable comeback. Ultimately, the Jets lost by five and Ryan said the emotions of the big win the week before played a role in his team’s slow start.

“I remember getting the guys at halftime and saying look guys nobody expected us to be here. We’re crazy enough to win this game. We’re the perfect team to come back from this and we can win this game. We just have to believe one play after the other,” Ryan said. “You know what? We just ran out of time in that game.”