Getting to Know Rex Ryan

In an effort to find out what kind of head coach Rex Ryan will be with the Jets, I reached out to football writer Aaron Wilson. Wilson covers the Ravens for the Carroll County Times, and also writes for

JA: Rex Ryan's bravado and confidence made a huge impression at his opening press conference. Given his obvious passion for the game, why did the Ravens opt to hire John Harbaugh last season instead of Ryan?

AW: Honestly, Harbaugh was a more polished candidate at the time. Ryan has a habit of saying exactly what he's thinking and is rarely politically correct. Also, the Ravens have had some discipline problems on the past on defense and when Rex was asked about that during the interview process he was somewhat defensive, which isn't the sort of accountability that [Ravens owner] Steve Bisciotti wanted to hear. He was also very bold, actually parking his big red pickup truck in the designated head coach's space marked 'HC' on the morning of the interview, which is classic Rex swagger and confidence.

JA: So what do you think made him such an appealing candidate this time around?

AW: Rex is a great guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve. He was disappointed not to get the job, but he used the opportunity to learn from Bisciotti, a Forbes' list member and owner of a giant technical staffing firm who gave him a lot of interviewing tips on what to do to get the next job. Rex has worked on a few appearance things, too, over the past few years in a reaction to suggestions that perhaps his candidacy for head coaching positions was being affected negatively in a league that tends to care about those things. He got his teeth whitened after years of chewing tobacco had stained his teeth. Linebacker Bart Scott joked good-naturedly that the teeth were gleaming so much in meetings it blinded him, saying they looked like porcelain. He has lost as much as 60 pounds through diet and exercise and he has gotten a more corporate haircut.

JA: How would you describe Ryan?

AW: At heart, Rex is a football coach's football coach. He is honest. He is gruff. He is always scheming for an edge. He is innovative. And his guys would run through a brickwall for him. What you see is what you get with Rex. He can be a little bit sensitive when criticized, bristling at it, but also using it as motivation to spur him forward.

JA: Sensitivity to criticism can be a rough personality trait in a city with a media spotlight. Do you think Ryan will have a hard time dealing with the increased scrutiny in New York?

AW: I think he'll handle it okay. Sometimes, he'll get mad. Sometimes, he'll use an aw shucks approach and let it roll off his back. He's a regular guy who will show emotion. He's not a robot like [Eric] Mangini.

JA: Much has been made of Ryan's coaching bloodlines. His father, Buddy Ryan, was notoriously hostile to the offenses of the teams he coached. Does that run in the family?

AW: Rex showed a lot of appreciation for offensive players who were tough like Le'Ron McClain and can move the chains. He liked Joe Flacco a lot and has an appreciation for guys like Derrick Mason and hard-nosed offensive linemen like Jason Brown and Marshal Yanda or athletic linemen like Jared Gaither. I think Rex will get along fine with the Jets' offensive players. I know he thinks highly of [Jerricho] Cotchery.

JA: Ryan expressed a willingness to work with Brett Favre next season, what's your gut feeling about how well the two men will get along?

AW: They would get along well off the field, but I would be concerned that Favre's penchant for risk taking and throwing stupid interceptions would grate on Rex.

JA: So, how is this all going to turn out for Ryan and the Jets?

AW: The Jets just hired a winner, in my opinion. I'm just sorry we won't have him around to interview anymore in Baltimore. He's a great quote.

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