By Jerry Sullivan
Rex Ryan is almost certainly coaching for his job this season. His Jets were expected by most prognosticators to finish at or near the bottom of the AFC this season. Many observers felt he would get fired after last season. John Idzik, the Jets' new general manager, is probably inclined to get his own head coach.
So Ryan hasn't demonstrated the old swagger of his early days as head man, when he talked a big game and took the Jets to two straight AFC title games. The word among the New York media is that Ryan has lost his bravado. On Wednesday, Ryan insisted that's not the case. Of course, it should be noted that Ryan was late for his conference call with the Buffalo media and didn't display his usual relish for the give-and-take with the media.
Rex, I asked, what about the notion that you've lost your bravado?
"Yeah, right!" Ryan replied. "OK."
"No," I said, knowing the Jets' PR man had intended that to be the final question. "What's your reaction to that? That feeling is out there in a lot of the NY media. Don't brush it off."
"Well," Ryan said, "I'll brush it off, because inside these walls, there's plenty of bravado and plenty of confidence. Eveyrbody will see it. It's on show for everybody to see. That's why you play the games. We'll see. Don't think my football team doesn't have plenty of bravado, because we certainly do."
Ryan is on the hot seat, but I doubt that he's lost his swagger. He seemed to have plenty of it during the Jets' narrow Thursday night loss to the Patriots, when the Ryan defense harassed Tom Brady into one of the worst games of his career. The Pats were down to the equipment manager as their fourth wideout, but that game was a reminder that Rex can still coach up a defense.
Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who coached with Ryan for 11 years and will go against him on Sunday, doesn't believe his old boss has lost any of his bravado, either.
"I think externally, looking at the circumstances, you might say there's some heat on his seat," Pettine said. "But I know him and he doesn't feel that way. He's going to go out and prepare his team to win a football game each week. That's what they've done.
"He even said it, that they're a lot better than people give them credit for. He laughed at the initial power rankings that came out, where they had them ranked. He's a guy that given his competitiveness and defensive expertise, I dont think you'd ever want to count out."