Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New York Jets [Print without images]

Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Rex: Sure, I'm loyal -- what's the big deal?

By Matt Ehalt

Rex Ryan freely admits that he's a loyal guy.

Just not to a fault.

Former Jet DL Trevor Pryce posted a blog item for the New York Times on Friday in which he contends Ryan's deficiency as a coach is his loyalty to his players and caring too much about those around him. Ryan, while not saying he disagreed with his former player, strongly believes loyalty is a good trait to have.

"I think the world of Trevor, there’s no question. I think every former player, current player or fan has a right to their own opinion, without question. Am I loyal? Yes. I think, without question, I’m a loyal person. I think that’s a positive trait," Ryan said on his Monday conference call. "I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be a nice person as well, but again, I think I’m plenty tough when it comes to making tough decisions. Trevor is a guy that I really respect and have a great deal of admiration for, so (if) that’s his opinion, I’m not trying to change his opinion."

Pryce, who played for the Jets in 2010 and was with Ryan in Baltimore, lauded Ryan in the piece for being a "brilliant strategist," writing that he is the premier coach at getting players to play above their level. He just sees Ryan's loyalty being what will keep him from being an elite head coach.

"And the two personality traits that are stopping him from being a great head coach are the same two that make him a great human being: he is loyal to the point of defiance, and he cares enormously about the people around him," Pryce wrote.

The lineman compared Ryan to Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who has no problems getting rid of players if he thinks it will improve the team.

"For two years, Ryan has stuck with a quarterback who played as if he were trying to get him fired," Pryce wrote.

Ultimately, Pryce believes Ryan will make the changes necessary so he can survive and adapt.

"The day is going to come when his player and coaching decisions will be made with the same cutthroat efficiency that you find in places like New England, Baltimore and Philadelphia. Ryan will realize he has no choice but to develop that same poisonous 'him or me' attitude that permeates almost every other head coach in the NFL," Pryce wrote. "And on that day the Jets will gain one of the better head coaches in the league. At the same time they will lose one of its better human beings."