The New York media has been having a love affair with Rex Ryan. The new Jets coach is being celebrated for his passion and his swagger. He's lauded as a fun-loving "breath of fresh air." You can save a lot of time and just call him the Anti-Mangini.
That's all well and good, but where are the signs that he's going to bring a Super Bowl title to Gang Green? Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post tries to find some by taking a look at the two coaches who will be competing for the Lombardi Trophy in Tampa. Both Mike Tomlin and Ken Whisenhunt were assistants with no head coaching experience when the Steelers and Cardinals, respectively, hired them. To Vaccaro, they prove that you can win big in your first trip around the track.
Tomlin or Whisenhunt will be bucking a trend when they win the Super Bowl, however. Nine of the last 11 winning coaches were working for their second teams when they won the big game. That's a history the Jets know well. The only Jet coach to win the Super Bowl was Weeb Ewbank, a coach who made his bones with the Baltimore Colts.
Since Ewbank retired, the Jets have had 13 head coaches. 10 of them were first-timers, many wearing the stamp of hot assistant that Ryan is wearing this season. They, too, were praised for their fresh ideas and attitudes, until they were run out of town a couple of years later so that a new candidate with a similar C.V. could take their place.
The point isn't that Ryan isn't a good choice for the job. He appears to be a fine candidate with excellent credentials. It's just that he's got the same chance of becoming the next Tomlin as he does of being the next Bruce Coslet. Optimism is a great thing, but, as the saying goes, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.
Of course, Rich Kotite was one of the three retreads so a more apt axiom may be that the Jets are damned if they do and damned if they don't.