As the New York Jets prepare for next month’s training camp, head coach Rex Ryan can’t help but feel slighted by the media and fans as of late.
"I'm a hell of a lot better football coach than I'm given credit for," Ryan told Newsday in an interview on Thursday.
On the heels of a 6-10 regular season, littered with quarterback drama and dysfunction, it’s hard to argue that the criticism of New York’s head man isn’t at least partially deserved. The Jets made sweeping changes to their coaching staff and front office personnel, but owner Woody Johnson kept Ryan’s job intact despite Gang Green finishing out of playoff contention for the second consecutive year. Even in light of the team’s recent struggles, Ryan remains confident in his coaching ability.
"I don't need the credit," he told the newspaper. "But I can tell you one thing: When it's said and done, they'll look back and say, 'Oh, man, this dude can coach his butt off.' And you know what? It's true. And I'll let the people that know best talk on my behalf about the kind of coach I am.”
Defensively the Jets have been stout; finishing at least Top 10 as a unit in all four years with Ryan at the helm. The Jets’ problems lie with their lackluster offense and quarterback Mark Sanchez’s bad habit of turning the ball over in crucial situations. Sanchez committed 52 turnovers the past two seasons alone; and coincidentally the Jets finished on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.
While Ryan takes immense pride in his defense, the lack of offensive productivity ultimately falls on the head coach’s shoulders.
"I don't have to brag, even though statistically, I can brag about anything I've ever done defensively."
As the Jets ready for what is turning out to be an interesting quarterback battle between Sanchez and Geno Smith, it will be the progression of his offense, not his defense that determines Ryan’s coaching fate in the Big Apple.