Following the Leader

Following the Leader

The 2011 season was a bumpy road for Rex Ryan and the Jets. Find out how the coach's new approach this year just might help New York turn the tide.

Amidst the coaching changes, free agent signings, offseason trades and draft selections, one thing remains constant in the land of Green-and-White, Rex Ryan is still the leader of the Jets.

Under the guidance of owner Woody Johnson and general manager Mike Tannenbaum, New York has recruited several new faces from different places who will be lacing up their cleats or barking into a headset this season. The mood in the locker room has been transformed from a dysfunctional mess to an upbeat and positive group, building camaraderie and chemistry.

While a single down has yet to be played, the energy and enthusiasm is back in the front office, along the coaching staff and most importantly in the locker room. It's no secret that Ryan's physique is bigger than the average man, but it takes a big man to admit when he's at fault. So when Ryan confessed to reporters that he lost the ‘pulse' of his team following last season's collapse, the onslaught of criticism and negativity ensued.

Under great scrutiny for his missteps last year, Ryan is adopting a new approach by being more actively engaged at team meetings and accessible to all of his players. Ryan was under fire for inflating his players' confidence to the point where they weren't accountable for their mistakes. The Jets head coach shouldered the blame for his team's shortcomings throughout last season, trying to deflect the negative attention and cynicism away from his players.

The 2012 Jets are seeking to put last season in the rear-view and turn their attention to an aggressive early regular season schedule. With so many moving pieces on offense, defense and special teams, many of New York's rookies and new acquisitions will need to settle in and absorb the playbook with a laser-like focus. The Jets have not only transformed their personnel, but have made significant changes to their offensive and defensive schemes.

Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano has wasted little time in giving Gang Green an offensive makeover and shifting back to a run-heavy scheme, after the team finished 22nd in rushing offense a season ago. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has expressed his desire to play a 4-3 base defense in lieu of a 3-4, particular opposing the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots within the division.

New York has all hands on deck as its aims to wash away the bitter taste of the 2011 season with an infusion of young talent, new leadership and a versatile backup quarterback. With training camp just around the corner, the Jets are preparing for a wild ride in 2012. Ryan has set the tone for the season during rookie camp and minicamp by creating competition at virtually every position.

For Ryan, this upcoming season is all about redemption and of course chasing that elusive Super Bowl trophy.

Rick Laughland covers the New York Jets for

You can follow him on Twitter @rlaughland By:

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