Rex Ryan's Critics Focused On Attacking New York Jets Coach's Methods, But Players Have Bought In

When it comes to Rex Ryan, the particular conversation between Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts is becoming more typical.

The talkies implored Ryan to get out of the "predictions" business. They asked him to stop with the pronouncements, too.
 
"His words are starting to lose their meaning," Roberts said Monday on WFAN.
 
Considering the two mouths get paid for issuing grand predictions, pronouncements and opinions to residents of the Valley of the Stupid, their take on Ryan is hypocritical, but that's another story.
 
By no means are Benigno and Roberts alone here. The Jets had just broken the seal on their 2011 training camp, and some in the media were already taking their Ryan muzzles out of mothballs. Some followed the radio guys' lead, suggesting Ryan deep-six his predictions of Super Bowl glory ("I just know what I believe in my heart and that's that this is going to be our year," Ryan said recently).
 
Others portrayed him as delusional for saying: "I think our team right here, I feel like is the best roster that we've had since I've been here."
 
Some even questioned his ability to motivate in Year 3 of his Jets regime.
 
One Papal Windbag said the fact that Nnamdi Asomugha signed with Philly explodes the notion players are "dying" to play for Ryan.
 
"They can all say they are sick of Rex, sick of it now, and wish he could be like (Bill) Belichick or Bear Bryant or whatever the 'rules' of the media game are supposed to be," Cris Collinsworth, NBC's "Sunday Night Football" analyst, said Thursday over the telephone. "But for me I love it. I would've loved it if I was playing for him, too. And I know his players love it."
 
Here's a piece of friendly advice for those suggesting Ryan should stop flapping his gums - chill.
 
It's Windex clear that the initial winds of a backlash are being stirred by those who wouldn't mind being collaborators in Ryan's demise or, at least, in humbling him. Okay, some of these cats sound as if they want to bring the Fat Man to his knees. Naturally, they issue a disclaimer about preferring Ryan's loose-lipped approach to the controlled whispers of Eric (Iron Jaws) Mangini.
 
It's like if Rex is going down this season, the least he can do is keep providing them with juicy quotes on the way out.
 
"Let's say the Jets go 7-9 this year. There will be all this stuff about just imagine if Rex didn't say this or didn't say that," Collinsworth said. "There'll be an avalanche on top of him. The critics will suddenly forget the Jets were plays away from going to back-to-back Super Bowls."
 
But they won't forget how he entertained and made their notebooks pregnant with quotes. One former long-time NFL reporter who once covered the Jets referred to many who attend Ryan's press conferences as the coach's personal "laugh track."
 
"Rex doesn't have to deflect (questions) all that much. He answers stuff pretty much straight on," the scribe said. "But he knows if they're laughing they're still with him. If they stop laughing the party is over."
 
Maybe for the media. For when this hand is eventually played out, the players hold all the cards. Coverage can influence fans, but it ain't about to inspire a player rebellion over Ryan's yap.
 
Sea change such as that can only come from within.
 
"As a player, the biggest thing I always hated was a coach who was a phoney, a guy, a head coach, who was your pal when he was an assistant and all of a sudden he's Vince Lombardi," Collinsworth said. "Or a guy who is Vince Lombardi all the time and now is trying to crack jokes in the meeting room."
 
Ryan can't change. As Collinsworth said, when a coach tries to turn the page, players see through it. Still, when the troops are clamoring for change it can work. Remember the "kinder, gentler" Tom Coughlin? In 2007, he reinvented his delivery and the Giants wound up winning a Super Bowl.
 
Ryan's in a different place. Despite all the sage media advice (You shouldn't have rattled Belichick's cage, you shouldn't have done "Hard Knocks") the players have totally bought in. That's all that matters.
 
"If Rex came to me for advice, which he never would and never should, I'd tell him just be yourself, be what you are," Collinsworth said. "Because what he is is working."
 
Yeah, working. Two AFC title games in two seasons. With a quarterback whose NFL resume is two pages long.
 
Yet Rex Ryan's big mouth is going to ruin it all.
 
Go figure.
 
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