If you didn’t know or hadn’t been around Rex Ryan, it would be easy to call his sticking with quarterback Mark Sanchez stubbornness.
But former NFL defensive lineman Trevor Pryce, who played for Ryan for four seasons, said it was the coach’s incredible loyalty and willingness to stick his neck out for those close to him that has him in his current mess.
Pryce, writing for the New York Times, had nothing but praise for Ryan as an Xs and Os coach, calling him: “a brilliant strategist, a man who works to the point of exhaustion and possesses a passion for and knowledge of football that is unmatched.”
Pryce compared the difference between the cold way Patriots coach Bill Belichick could trade a player such as Richard Seymour and Ryan’s hiring of one of his former defensive backs, Mark Carrier, to coach defensive line.
“Being an N.F.L. coach is the ultimate study in “him or me” politics,” Pryce wrote. “You have to be willing to sacrifice just about anyone in your organization for the greater good. To a coach, the ‘greater good’ often means protecting your own job security first. And that is the last thing Ryan wants to do.”
Pryce speculates that Ryan may some day develop a harder edge, be willing to be more “cutthroat.”
“And on that day the Jets will gain one of the better head coaches in the league,” Pryce wrote. “At the same time they will lose one of its better human beings.”
That’s a sad commentary, but perhaps an accurate one about Ryan’s shortcomings.