Rex Ryan on Robert Saleh: “Don’t ever compare this guy to me”

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The Jets got as close as they’ve ever been to the Super Bowl with Rex Ryan at the helm, making it to two straight AFC Championship games. Since then, it’s been a carousel of dysfunction for the Jets, and the latest edition is no better than the rest.

Over the last four games, the Jets have surrendered 175 points, two short of the worst four-game stretch since the merger.

Ryan has something to say about the Jets and their new coach, former 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

“I look at it as this defense is abysmal,” Ryan recently said on an ESPN podcast, via SNY. “Bart [Scott] was telling that to me, ‘Oh no, their defense is playing hard.’ I’m like what? No they don’t. This is a horrendous defense. Now they’re going to use, ‘Well now we didn’t have our safety.’ So what? Everybody has a million injuries let alone above average safety you’re missing. I remember playing without five corners. It never looked like this. We were fifth in the league in defense that year.”

Ryan saved his harshest criticism for Saleh.

“This guy was supposed to be a defensive guru,” Ryan said. “I heard everything and I take it personal on this one. Everything I’ve heard about was, well this guy’s a lot like myself, but without the bad part. Yeah, well some of the bad part you need because this team doesn’t play with any damn heart. That’s the thing that’s disappointing to me. Don’t ever compare this guy to me, this Robert Saleh to me.”

We can’t recall many/any comparisons between Ryan and Saleh. Ryan wants to be sure that, to the extent it ever has happened, it never happens again.

“Four out of five years the 49ers were dead last in their division,” Ryan said. “So he’s going to be dead last again, so he’s used to that. So to me, I’m a little pissed off about it that this guy, his background’s a lot like yours. No it isn’t, no it isn’t.  . . . Quit trying to tell the New York fan base that he’s going to be like me as a defensive-minded guy or whatever. I had a clue how to handle a rookie quarterback. I also never got my butt kicked like this in a four-game stretch ever. . . . Never made excuse and never put a product out there like this.”

Of course, Ryan inherited a pretty good team, one that went 9-7 the year before he arrived. Saleh, in contrast, inherited one of the worst rosters in the league, and many are starting to wonder when G.M. Joe Douglas is going to be held accountable for the current state of the team.

This doesn’t mean Douglas should be fired. Unless ownership is willing to press the reset button now, it serves no purpose to hire a G.M. who eventually will want to hire his own coach. Fire both or keep both. It currently makes sense to give them both one more year.

Ryan, clearly, would fire both now. Or, perhaps more accurately, he would fire Saleh and hire himself.

That’s likely where most of this is coming from. The hubris that made Ryan a good coach hasn’t evaporated. And that makes him think he’d do better than Saleh as the coach of the team — if Woody Johnson would ever take a page from the Steinbrenner playbook and put the team back in charge of someone he previously fired.

One thing is for certain. If Ryan ever came back to coach the Jets again, things would definitely be interesting in New York and throughout the NFL.