While Jobu is on vacation, enjoy one of our greatest hits as Jerry Ballgame discusses Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick, and their different styles when it comes to dealing with the media.
Anyone with a television set that has cable and a few sports channels knows for themselves that Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick are about as different in personalities as you can get. Other than an expertise at the devising and implementing of defensive schemes, you’d be hard pressed to come up with anything else they have in common. You’d be forgiven for forgetting that they both had very strong fraternal links to the gridiron. Most fans are aware that Buddy Ryan was a defensive innovator in his own right, creating the 4-6 defense, but may not know that Steve Belichick was a long time college coach and scout. (Legend has it that a young Billy B. was helping his dad break down game film at 10 years old!)
The national sports media has absolutely fallen in love with Ryan’s witty and entertaining press conferences. Many of the media types have gotten rather fat and lazy following him, and his copy-ready quotes and zingers. (If I hear one more sports commentator say that Rex makes his/her job easy, I may throw-up. Your job’s already easy!) Questions asked of Belichick, are usually answered in short, clipped monotone sentences. That’s assuming he deems them worthy of an answer at all. He, as his mentor Bill Parcells, before him, is inclined to let a reporter know when he feels a question too stupid to answer. Although the “Tuna” usually did it with a withering look as well as a blistering putdown, as opposed to “B.B.” mumbling something before looking for a different questions.
It’s probably appropriate at this point to comment on how often reporters ask such dumb questions. More often than not they are not actual questions in search of an answer as much as they are looking for a reaction. Belichick won’t bite, Rex on the other hand will. A Boston area reporter knows better than to ask Bill a question that starts, “How did it feel…”’ or “What was it like…”, or “What were you thinking…”, or any of those other open ended questions they thrive on. Rex is not afraid to talk about his feelings. Bill’s got better things to do. Just ask.
Speaking of the Tuna, Rex’s reign as Jet’s head coach is beginning to feel reminiscent of when Wade Phillips succeeded Parcells in Dallas. The initial experience was rather positive, starting with a divisional title in his first season. There were many quotes from players saying how great it was to be “treated like a man”, without a lot of rules, and how the coach had their backs. After about two or three seasons, though, when players start being more concerned about their own stats and getting their own message out, things started to fall apart, and Phillips was shown the door.
Lately, there seems to be a great deal of “chatter” going on in the Jets, amongst the various factions on the team. Receivers calling out the ‘O’ line, the offensive coordinator being criticized, retired players adding their two cents; what was needed was a big win against a good team; and against the Chargers, Rex’s charges came through. The victory was significant going into the bye week, and likely saved their season as well as prolonged Ryan’s stay as the Jets’ head coach.
Make no mistake; Rex Ryan will never be without a job. His skill as a defensive coordinator is without question. But I predict that in his head coaching future, he will curb his enthusiasm a bit, and try sounding more like Bill; Parcells that is. The media might not appreciate it as much, but if it brings rings, they’ll get used to it.
In the final analysis, it doesn’t matter how much the reporters love you, or HBO for that matter. Coaches who predict Super Bowl wins before their team makes it to February, need to deliver on their promise rather quickly or else their act gets old and they’re shown the door.
Handshake image courtesy of: Getty Images
Ryan image courtesy of: Sabo/News
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