Rex Ryan's Jets Writing Their Own Broadway Script
It's not easy to like Rex Ryan. So unless you have a thing for big, fat, pompous, swearing, swaggering, sexually-strange windbags, you're probably pulling for New England on Sunday.
To be more precise, you're probably hoping Bill Belichick kicks Ryan's butt so badly that Rex will never be able to look at feet the same way again.
Sorry, but your anti-Ryan fetish is about to get even more severe.
Believe it or not, the Jets coach will out-scheme the Patriots' resident wise man. I didn't believe it either until my boss told me I had to defend Ryan in this week's tussle. But after extensive film study and a good pedicure, I've seen the wisdom of Rex's ways.
I can't say he's a better coach than Belichick all 365 days of the year. He doesn't have to be.
"I recognize he's the best and all that," Ryan said, "but I'm just trying to be the best on Sunday."
If he is, it will be another step toward the greatest thing to happen to the Super Bowl since Joe Namath. Imagine Ryan in front of 3,925 starving microphones for an entire week. He'll provide more entertainment in the first two minutes than Belichick has in the 14 or however many Super Bowls he's won. All Rex has to do is win Sunday and then lead the Jets to victory in the AFC Championship game.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Sunday's game in Foxboro has become the biggest referendum yet on coaching styles. In one corner you have a coach who hates attention. In the other you have Rex.
Which attitude will prevail?
Easy answer -- take the team with Tom Brady.
That aside, you go with the guy who doesn't want to give the other team a scintilla of extra motivation. The guy who would slam down the phone if HBO's "Hard Knocks" called. The guy who could put a bottle of 5-Hour Energy to sleep.
Ryan is none of those, but look what his approach has done for the Jets. They went from nobodies to the AFC Championship Game last year, eliminating those fashionable Chargers along the way.
Now they have beaten the Colts in Indy after Adam Vinatieri kicked a go-ahead, 50-yard field goal with 53 seconds left. It was the ideal time for a distracted, arrogant, overhyped team to collapse, yet the Jets rallied to win.
Ryan provided the pregame headline fodder by proclaiming his battle with Peyton Manning was "personal." It seemed like his usual needless provocation until Manning was reduced to a frustrated pile of playoff rubble.
Now Rex is tugging on Brady's cape. Ryan knew Peyton Manning. He worked against Peyton Manning.
Tom, you're no Peyton Manning.
Instead of watching the Jets-Colts game Saturday night, Brady went to the play "Lombardi."
"Peyton Manning would have been watching our game," Ryan said.
Maybe not if he'd had a chance to hit Broadway with Gisele Bundchen. Brady said kept up with the score and caught the second half on TV. Just to make sure there would be more headlines, Ryan groused about Brady's antics during their last meeting.
After throwing a touchdown to make it 38-3, Brady supposedly pointed at the Jets' bench in taunting glee.
"At least I didn't point to my feet and tell Rex to kiss them," Brady said.
Oh, if only that were true. In keeping with New England tradition, Brady has sprinted for the exit whenever a reporter asked about Ryan, the Jets' rivalry, the weather, etc. The Patriots embody their coach, and it's hard to argue with an approach that's delivered the closest thing to a modern-day NFL dynasty.
It's a lot easier to say Ryan has put unnecessary pressure on his team, and it's eventually going to catch up with him. That's what people were saying last year when the Jets seemed to fall apart in December.
That's what they were saying this year when the same thing happened. Then, the Jets have backed up their coach's bravado. It's not all due to the runaway train located where Rex's mouth is. But the Ryan Express certainly hasn't hurt proceedings.
Every other coach bows prostate before Brady and Manning. What do you have to lose by trying to get inside their heads?
You can lose face, which most coaches hate. Ryan can handle it. That's why he's getting personal this week with the modern-day Lombardi.
"This is about Bill Belichick vs. Rex Ryan," he said.
It looks like a blowout. But the Jets have won three road playoff games in two years under Ryan. When they win Sunday, it will be an event worthy of a new play to hit Broadway.
Ryan will be happy to leave tickets for Mr. and Mrs. Brady.