A year ago Rex Ryan made his latest dim-witted guarantee. Not too far removed from a season that ended in an AFC Championship game loss for the second straight year, the Jets head coach stood proudly at the press conference podium during the Scouting Combine, and said something stupid.
He guaranteed a championship. Fans are emotional creatures, and although no one really takes anything Ryan says seriously anymore, at the time there was some Joe Namath swagger to his words, and it wasn’t wise for the sideline leader of a team brimming with brash but lacking in maturity to fuel that attitude further.
But hey, it’s the Jets, and that’s just who they are. They yell, they swear at Tom Brady, they turn boisterous catch phrases into charitable shirts, and they do it all while winning football games. It’s in their blood, so what could possibly go wrong after another arbitrary prediction?
We know the answer to that question now. The Jets finished with an 8-8 record, and missed the playoffs for the first time in the Ryan era. They did it in spectacular fashion too, with Santonio Holmes getting kicked out of the huddle, and rookie quarterback Greg McElroy saying that the Jets’ locker room was corrupt, and it was his first exposure to extremely selfish individuals.
After we pressed pause on the Ryan laugh box when the Jets’ season ended, that’s one of the places where the conversation started anew when the play button was pushed during his press conference today to open the 2012 combine.
No guarantees were made, with Ryan saying that last year’s prediction was foolish. But he spoke candidly about McElroy, saying that he didn’t agree with the injured backup’s assessment of the attitude around his team.
The competition could be named Peyton Manning, which means there wouldn’t be a competition at all. This is clearly all loose speculation in the weeks before free agency, but Ryan was given at least 10 opportunities to definitively squash the Manning rumors, yet he allowed them to linger.
Ryan’s quick dismissal of McElroy’s comments are the words of a coach who’s going through a natural human reaction, which is to be defensive when faced with criticism. That would be fine if McElroy’s scrutiny was fresh, but it certainly isn’t.
His comments today would also be a little more acceptable if they didn’t directly contradict what he said a month ago.
“I never had the pulse of the team like I normally have. That’s something where it starts. I think that’s the biggest thing we can fix, but I also think it’s the easiest thing to fix. When I look at the things we can fix in a hurry, that is going to be the No. 1 thing.”
Ryan admitted to not having the required “pulse” of his locker room, yet he’s still abruptly dismissive of internal criticism from members of a team that’s blatantly dysfunctional.