Two days after declaring they got the right man for the job, the New York Jets introduced Rex Ryan as their new coach.
Hired Monday to replace the fired Eric Mangini, Ryan takes over a Jets team that started last season 8-3 but missed the playoffs with quarterback Brett Favre after a late-season collapse.
He signed a four-year deal, reportedly worth $11.6 million.
Ryan is the son of former NFL coach Buddy Ryan, an assistant on the Jets' only Super Bowl team 40 years ago. The younger Ryan will be charged with getting the franchise back to the playoffs, something Mangini did just once _ as a rookie coach _ in his three seasons.
Ryan was Baltimore's defensive coordinator the past four years.
Ryan, the twin brother of Cleveland defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, has no previous head coaching experience, but has been an assistant at the pro and college levels for more than 20 years. Nicknamed “The Mad Scientist” by his players for his aggressive and unpredictable game plans, Ryan spent the past 10 seasons with the Ravens. His No. 2-ranked unit helped Baltimore reach the AFC championship game against Pittsburgh.
“The only way I know how to handle a challenge is to hit that thing head on,” Ryan said Wednesday morning at Jets headquarters after being introduced by team owner Woody Johnson. “The message to the rest of the league is `Hey, the Jets are coming, and we're going to give you everything we got. And I think that's going to be more than you can handle.’”
Asked if he was in favor of Favre returning for a another season, Ryan said, “I would think anybody would want him as their quarterback.”
He quickly added: “Everything will be looked at, our coaches' input and everything. Sometimes you don't have your best game for whatever reason and we'll take a look. But certainly I know the respect I have for Brett Favre is great and it comes from firsthand info. I've seen him up close and personal and that's good enough for me.”
Ryan also interviewed for the St. Louis vacancy that went to Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Ryan is said to be well liked among his players because of his straightforward, yet colorful and animated approach, which will be a departure from Mangini's stoic, disciplinarian style.
It became apparent Ryan was at the top of the Jets' list of candidates when several other teams filled their coaching vacancies and New York's remained open. The Jets needed Baltimore's season to end _ which happened Sunday with a 23-14 loss to the Steelers _ before offering him the job.
The deal was completed Monday afternoon after Johnson and general manager Mike Tannenbaum flew to Baltimore to iron out the details. The three then flew to New Jersey and Ryan got started on his new job as the Jets' fifth coach this decade, including Bill Belichick's 24-hour stint before abruptly resigning in 2000.
Ryan's Baltimore defense has been ranked in the top six in total yardage allowed the past four years and led the NFL this season with 34 takeaways. Ryan prefers to run a 3-4 defensive scheme, which the Jets already have in place. New York spent big bucks last offseason acquiring players that excel in the 3-4, including nose tackle Kris Jenkins and linebacker Calvin Pace.
Ryan inherits a defense that had an impressive start with 29 sacks in its first eight games but just 12 in the last half of the season. The secondary also might need a makeover, ranking 29th overall against the pass despite Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis and playmaking safety Kerry Rhodes.
Although the Jets scored 405 points, the third-highest total in franchise history, the offense still has some glaring needs. Other than determining who's at quarterback, New York needs a tall, speedy receiver to complement Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues Coles.
Ryan was the only remaining assistant from Baltimore's 2000 Super Bowl team. He spent six seasons as the Ravens' defensive line coach before being promoted to coordinator.
The Ravens fired coach Brian Billick and his entire staff, including Ryan, after the 2007 season. Ryan interviewed for the job that eventually went to John Harbaugh, who rehired Ryan and added the title of assistant head coach.
Ryan played football at Southwestern Oklahoma State and got into coaching in 1987, spending two years coaching defensive ends at Eastern Kentucky. After stints as the defensive coordinator at New Mexico Highlands and Morehead State, he spent two years under his father as a defensive assistant with the Arizona Cardinals.
Ryan became the defensive coordinator at the University of Cincinnati from 1996-97 before taking the same job at Oklahoma. He joined the Ravens before the 1999 season, working his way up to defensive coordinator.