We’ve been fascinated by the early days of Rex Ryan’s coaching career. For years, he was regarded as having the chops to run an NFL team. But, as legend has it, he previously was passed over because owners (and General Managers) feared that he’d be just like his dad, Buddy.
Some league insiders insisted to us that Rex Ryan was different than Buddy, that Rex wouldn’t be gratuitously brash and belligerent, and that he wasn’t in the habit of overstepping his role.
But the weeks and months following Rex Ryan’s ascension to the head-coaching job with the New York Jets have done nothing to debunk the notion that Rex Ryan is a carbon copy of his father.
Here’s the latest evidence, and it’s a bit more subtle than Rex’s rants against Bill Belichick and Channing Crowder. Jets linebacker Bart Scott, who played for Ryan last year in Baltimore and jumped to New York as a free agent, claims that Ryan was the de facto boss during John Harbaugh’s first year at the helm.
“[Ryan] was the head coach of [the Ravens] last year, whether you guys know it or not,” Scott said. “He kept that team together. The defense leads that team over there, and he controls the defense.”
That sounds a lot like the stuff that came out of Chicago during the 1985 season, when Buddy Ryan pulled the strings on perhaps the greatest defense of all time. Indeed, both Buddy and head coach Mike Ditka were carried off the field when the Bears finished off their 18-1 campaign, which culminated in a thrashing of the Pats in Super Bowl XX.
And though Scott has been a bit of a loose cannon in the past, if he’s genuinely under the impression that Ryan was running the show, Scott quite possibly picked that up from the words, actions, or demeanor of Ryan himself during the 2008 season.
Keep in mind that the Ravens didn’t promote Ryan after firing Brian Billick, instead bringing in secondary coach from Philly who had never been a defensive coordinator, and who had spent a lot time working with the special teams only. Ryan probably resented the move, and he probably wasn’t able to keep his feelings completely bottled up.
For his part in this, Harbaugh is taking the high road. “We don’t have any rear-view mirrors in our car,” Harbaugh said Wednesday, per the Baltimore Sun.
And that’s smart. There’s nothing to be gained from getting in a verbal battle with a team whose head coach already has shown an affinity for talking tough.
Our point isn’t that Rex Ryan will be a bad coach (though as we recently pointed out some think he’s bad for the league). The bottom line here is that, if Rex Ryan is hoping to persuade anyone that he’s not just like his dad, Rex already has failed.