Jets coach Rex Ryan knows how to press the buttons of his players. And he’s pressing them again, with rookie receiver Stephen Hill.
In Ryan’s book, Play Like You Mean It, he admitted to asking Roger Goodell to rip Ryan in the presence of newly-acquired receiver Santonio Holmes, who also would be getting chewed out by Goodell, so that Ryan and Holmes could commiserate after being eviscerated by the Commissioner. Ryan also admitted to giving first-team practice reps to backup quarterback Mark Brunell in 2010, in the hopes of kicking starter Mark Sanchez in the ass. (Tim Tebow provides a much more credible threat to Sanchez’s total reps in 2012, another possibly ploy aimed at getting Sanchez to perform better and work harder.)
More recently, Ryan has offered up some candid remarks regarding rookie receiver Stephen Hill, a much-hyped prospect for whom the Jets traded up in round two of the draft. And it’s hard not to view the words as part of Ryan’s latest ploy to get the attention of a guy the coach needs to step up, right away.
‘Well, nothing told me he would [contribute],” Ryan recently told Don Banks of SI.com. “Nothing. When I saw the tape [of his collegiate play] I was concerned. But [Jets G.M.] Mike Tannenbaum and [senior personnel executive] Terry [Bradway] and all our scouts were adamant about this guy. They were adamant that this guy can do it. He can run all these routes, he had good hands and he’s got 4.2 speed at 6-foot-5. He was the guy they all wanted, but honestly, when it came down to it, a wideout? Not my dream pick. But now that we have him, of course, I want to claim him: ‘Oh, that was my pick.’ But it really wasn’t.”
Strong stuff, so strong that some may suggest that Ryan is making a passive-aggressive power play, laying the foundation for blame to be placed on the front office if the team stinks this year without whoever it is that Ryan preferred to draft in round two (like maybe a right tackle). But if the Jets fail miserably this year and if owner Woody Johnson decides that heads will roll, he’s most likely not going to fire the G.M. and keep the head coach. If change comes to the Jets after the season, it most likely will be sweeping, with a new head coach and a new G.M. (or, perhaps, a new head coach who will be given the keys to the front office, too).
Besides, if Ryan is taking on Tannenbaum, it’s a fight that Rex is likely to lose. Apart from the fact that Tannenbaum has much greater direct access to the owner, Tannenbaum has proven that he knows how to survive, and to thrive.
Complicating the situation for the coach, if he has decided to throw rocks at the front office, is the fact that Rex recently claimed that this could be the best Jets team Ryan has coached. So if the team fails, how can it be the fault of the guy who built it?
UPDATE 10:51 a.m. ET: Banks has separately clarified his remarks via Twitter, explaining that Ryan was giving credit to Tannenbaum and Bradway for picking Hill, and that Rex was joking and engaging in self deprecation. But shouldn’t that clarification also be provided in the article itself, a fair and complete reading of which doesn’t suggest praise for the front office or humor or anything other than overt criticism of Hill, and possibly indirect criticism of Tannenbaum and Bradway a/k/a Brady?