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Thursday, April 17, 2014
Rex Ryan's pitch to Chris Johnson

By Jane McManus

If you need any more evidence of the draw coach Rex Ryan has over NFL free agents, look no further than Chris Johnson's initial conference call on Thursday afternoon. He was asked why he chose the New York Jets, and he noted the team had a chance to win it all.

"They know how to win over there," Johnson said. "The type of team that they had last year, they got a great defense. Any time you have a great defense you give yourself a great chance at winning. Looking at the team, me going there to get more playmakers on offense, we know as an organization if we're able to put up points, then that will give us a good chance at winning. So I felt I would be able to fit that mold and come there and help [the] offense."

Not only have Ryan's Jets not delivered in the past three years, costing numerous coaches and a general manager their jobs, but a running back actually mentioned the defense as a reason to come to New York.

The Jets are 22-26 since 2011, but listen to the facts that Johnson has at the ready after spending a few days at the Jets' training facility in Florham Park.

"They haven't been to the playoffs in three years," Johnson said, "but last year they were one game out from the playoffs and the year before those three years they were a playoff team that was close to the Super Bowl and all those types of things."

It's the closest fans may get to hearing Ryan's actual sales pitch to a free agent.

Later Thursday, 98.7 ESPN New York's Michael Kay asked Johnson about Ryan, and you could almost hear him smile through the radio.

"I can see me and him being real, real cool," Johnson said.

Can you imagine a player saying something like that after meeting, say, Patriots coach Bill Belichick? Ryan seems to have an effortless way of relating to players, and it may be part of the reason Johnson was drawn to New York over another team.

If Johnson has another 2,000-yard season, Ryan and his skills of persuasion will look pretty valuable. But that's one of the big ifs for the Jets as the team prepares to begin its offseason training program on Monday.