When Rex Ryan said he wasn't here to kiss "Bill Belichick's rings" in June, it got a lot of attention and was repeatedly referred to as bulletin board material. Why, exactly, a head coach in the NFL is supposed to supplicate before his rivals is unclear, as is why a profesional athlete would find such a thing motivational but this is the world we live in.
Ryan was asked about those comments at his Tuesday press conference. He said that his intention wasn't to be disrespectful of Belichick, but to make it clear his team wasn't intimidated by anyone or anything.
"We’re not going to tiptoe our way through this thing. You don’t win and beat a Bill Belichick-coached team by tiptoeing up there. We’re going to be ourselves, and I’m going to be myself, and that’s just the way it is. How much more motivation are they going to get by putting a quote from Rex Ryan on their wall? If that’s where you’re going to draw motivation from, hell, we’re probably going to kick your ass if that’s the case."
There are two thoughts that come to mind when thinking about Ryan's willingness to talk about other teams and players around the NFL. The first is that it is fun and entertaining to watch and listen to someone who isn't worried about measuring every single word that comes out of their mouth. He's confident, or trying to project confidence in himself and his team, and isn't willing to pretend he isn't because it's good politics.
The other thought is that this is exactly what wound up getting his father Buddy in so much trouble during his career. Other coaches have had no problem speaking their minds, but they tend to spend a lot more time talking about their own team than members of the Ryan family. At heart, the NFL is as conservative as Barry Goldwater, and guys who make waves are crushed unless they win at epic levels.
All of this is tempered by the fact that we haven't seen Ryan coach in the regular season yet. He may well tone things down when there's always a game around the corner and his weeks are spent game-planning, managing injuries and all the other things that aren't in full swing yet. He may just be a guy who likes to have some fun during dead times in the schedule, and we can all appreciate that.
If he isn't, though, and this personality remains brash so be it. Some detractors may say that he runs the risk of looking like a buffoon if his team can't back up his boldness with wins, but his bigger fear is that he'll be fired. And that is, of course, the same fear of every coach regardless of their personality. Just ask Eric Mangini.