The NFL can't seem to make up its mind about Rex Ryan. The Jets coach has gotten praised far and wide for the way he's injected confidence/guts/swagger/identity into the franchise, an injection that's being credited with spurring them to a 3-0 start. That would lead you to believe that he's a welcome breath of fresh air and that his style has its admirers.
It's hard to know if that's the case, though. Nearly every time Ryan's bravado is applauded as good for the Jets, it's couched with a mention of how it will come back to bite him in his ample rear end when the Jets lose a game. That assumes that losing a game is no big deal for a milquetoast coach, something that Eric Mangini would probably argue with if he wasn't too busy pretending to be a mute.
Jerome Bettis, writing for SI.com, is the latest to straddle this seemingly unstraddleable line. He writes that Ryan is good for the defense, but bad for Mark Sanchez and the rest of the offensive because he riles up the opposition. That riled-up opposition then wants to hit you when you're carrying, throwing or catching the ball.
Bettis was a pretty terrific football player, but he appears to have failed to grasp a fundamental part of the game during his career. The defense always wants to hit the opposing offense, whether the opposing coach is Rex Ryan, Ryan O'Neal or Neil Patrick Harris. If anything, having their mind on what a coach said in the week leading up to the game and getting extra angry about it would make them more likely to freelance in effort to make a big hit, something that will make it easier to hit a big play.
Trying to figure out just what it is about Ryan's attitude that the football world finds so objectionable is a difficult thing to do. He came into a new job, said he planned to be successful in his new job and that he wasn't going to roll over and lose to teams based on their reputations. He didn't say he planned to hurt opposing quarterbacks, he didn't advocate cheating or anything else that sounds the slightest bit out of line for a football coach.
The description of that job is exactly three words long. Win football games. That's what Ryan is tasked with accomplishing, and all the people who criticize his chattiness agree that he's helping the Jets do that. Everything else is just noise to serve as a prelude for a column or on-air diatribe that was written the day Ryan got the job.