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Tuesday, January 20, 2009
History aside, Jets' choice looks like a winner


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

The only problem I see with Rex Ryan being hired as head coach is the fact the New York Jets made the decision.

Ryan's credentials are impeccable. With the Baltimore Ravens for the previous 10 years, he has worked on and conducted the gold standard of NFL defenses. He is beloved by his players and considered a motivator by trusting his men rather than berating them. His former bosses are amazed he hasn't gotten a top gig sooner.

So when looking for a reason to be skeptical, the only one I can come up with is the Jets' track record in hiring head coaches.

Ryan will be introduced Wednesday morning as the club's 17th head coach. Only two walked away with winning records. Bill Parcells went 29-19. Al Groh went 9-7 in his lone season as Parcells' replacement and left for a college job.

Jets owner Woody Johnson took control in 2000, Groh's first year. He oversaw the Herm Edwards and Eric Mangini appointments as well as their sloppy departures.

Unlike Edwards and Mangini, Ryan arrives as a known coaching quantity.

Edwards had never been a head coach and coordinator at any level and Mangini still can go four days between shaves. Ryan perhaps was the NFL's most respected defensive coordinator and was believed to be ready to call the shots for a few years.

Ryan also is the first new head coach under general manager Mike Tannenbaum, who has made many more shrewd moves that goofs.

You can't argue with Ryan's résumé. You can get an eyeful of the Ravens' stats while he coached them right here. They rank first more often than Mariah Carey on Billboard.

Ryan brings a refreshing arrogance and calls-it-like-he-sees-it approach. He's Buddy Ryan's son, after all. The Jets' new coach will preach gang tackling, hard hits, ball hawking, aggressive blitzes.

Now if he could just find another Ray Lewis and get Vernon Gholston to play like Bart Scott. Or maybe he can persuade free agents Lewis and Scott to join him at the Meadowlands.

Ryan's already working on a staff. Ravens outside linebackers coach Mike Pettine reportedly is the frontrunner to replace defensive coordinator Bob Sutton. Brian Schottenheimer might stay as offensive coordinator. If not, Ravens quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson is a possibility.

But the Jets will be a reflection of their head coach, and that should get fans excited, especially after the Mannequini era produced its share of uninspired Sunday efforts.

Right now, there's no reason to be critical of what appears to be a can't-miss hire. The only caveat is that the Jets have missed more often than not.