As Buddy Ryan's son, Rex Ryan has an attacking defensive philosophy in his blood. As a Baltimore Ravens assistant for the last decade, he implemented that philosophy with striking effectiveness. The Jets are hoping he brings the same thing to their defense, a unit heretofore known for passivity and pliability.
In a perfect world he'd bring some of the Ravens who helped burnish his reputation to New York with him. The Ravens have a slew of free agents on their defense, all of whom would be upgrades over their Jet counterparts. They also love playing for Ryan. According to the Daily News, Ravens defenders made a pact to follow Ryan wherever he went after leaving Baltimore.
Ray Lewis, Bart Scott and Terrell Suggs have terrorized offenses for years, and the Jets linebacking corps is in need of a fear factor. There's no way the Ravens can keep all three of them, but the Jets aren't in position to nab them either. They're $10 million over the projected salary cap right now, which would mean serious pruning before entertaining the notion of a premium free agent.
As it happens, the most prunable guy on the Jets roster makes $13 million. There were already plenty of reasons to act quickly in determining Brett Favre's future, but move the need to get Ryan the players he needs to be successful to the list. That still might not be enough to land one of the linebackers, but those aren't the only options.
Jim Leonhard, the strong safety who played alongside Ed Reed with the Ravens, is also a free agent and fills an enormous need for the Jets. Neither Abram Elam nor Eric Smith is a standout, and Kerry Rhodes could thrive in Ryan's defense if he's got a running mate steady enough to cover for his improvisations. Leonhard fits the bill, and would probably enjoy the chance to keep playing for the coach who turned him from anonymous Buffalo Bill to NFL starter.