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|Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum don't always see eye to eye, but they've made a formidable tandem.|
• • •After every game, Tannenbaum and the coaches compile an AAR -- an After Action Report, a detailed analysis of offense, defense and special teams. It's an old military technique, specific and exhaustive, but Tannenbaum believes it serves a purpose. Sometimes it drives Ryan a little nuts. "He looks at everything, the attention to detail," Ryan said, sighing and smiling at the same time. "The little things, he nails. I'm more of a big-picture guy." Maybe that's why they complement each other so well. "The perfect match," Ryan said. The coach is impulsive, willing to take chances with personnel moves. Tannenbaum is fastidious, the kind of person who measures five times before cutting. Over the past two years, they've made some of the splashiest personnel moves in the NFL -- trading up to draft Mark Sanchez; taking chances on Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie; and gambling that LaDainian Tomlinson still has something left. In each move, there was a little bit of Tannenbaum, a little bit of Ryan. "They like each other, and I think that's important," owner Woody Johnson said in a phone interview. "I think they appreciate each other's individual talents ... It's a fit that's working out really well for the team. We're winning, and they've created that environment." Tannenbaum has the final say on personnel, but he always solicits Ryan's input. The best example occurred last April, when Tannenbaum received a call from the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were shopping the talented but troubled Holmes. Tannenbaum said he "was going to kill it as much as anything," but he called Ryan's office to run it past him before he gave a no to the Steelers.
“Ryan was in the middle of a closed-door interview. Tannenbaum asked Ryan's assistant to buzz into the glass-enclosed office and ask for a thumbs-up or thumbs-down on Holmes. "I put the phone down and if you had counted to 20 ... he comes bursting through my door and he says, 'Hell, yes, get that SOB. He cost me one, maybe two rings.'" OK, fine, but Tannenbaum wanted to research the move. He suggested to Ryan that he watch tape of Holmes. Not necessary, Ryan told him. Just get him. And he did. Holmes, acquired for the meager price of a fifth-round pick, has been Mr. Clutch, delivering huge plays in several wins. The Holmes trade was more impulsive than most of the Jets' moves, a case of Tannenbaum trusting Ryan's instincts. Most times, there's a checks-and-balances system, Tannenbaum's methodical nature counteracting Ryan's aggressiveness. "I may not be as outgoing and brash as he is, but I think we're similar in that we'll both do whatever it takes to make the team better," Tannenbaum said. "If there was a way to make the team better, we'd be on the next plane to go there -- no questions asked, tell the wives about it later and we're going." They did that at the end of Darrelle Revis' summer-long holdout. Hopelessly deadlocked in negotiations, with the regular season a week away, Tannenbaum dispatched Ryan to Revis' home in Florida. The tactic raised some eyebrows around the league. Some executives thought the Jets were capitulating to a player in breach of contract, but Tannenbaum felt it was a necessary move. "If Rex didn't do that, Darrelle wouldn't have signed," he said. "I absolutely [believe that]." Ryan's forceful personality also played a role in the Sanchez trade. Before acquiring the Cleveland Browns' pick (No. 5 overall) to select their quarterback, the Jets were involved in trade talks with the St. Louis Rams, who owned the No. 2 pick and were threatening to select Sanchez. The Jets were willing to move into that spot, but they felt the Rams' asking price was exorbitant. The Jets didn't want to lose Sanchez, but they also didn't want to be victimized by highway robbery. Tannenbaum had done his homework and, in perhaps the biggest gamble he will ever take as the GM, he decided to hold off. Throughout the decision-making process, Ryan was on the phone with the Rams, engaged in high-stakes poker. "We called their bluff," Ryan said. Said Tannenbaum: "Rex is a good poker player."
It has to work because of the situation. As a GM, he's had a couple of shots. This one has to work for him. It has to work for me. I'm only going to get one shot. We're all in together. We have to make it work or we're done."” -- Rex Ryan on Mike Tannenbaum
• • •Tannenbaum was impressed with Ryan from the outset of his interview with the Jets, but there was something in particular that struck him -- Ryan's training-camp philosophy. He assumed Ryan would run a Buddy Ryan-style camp -- old-school, physically demanding -- but Rex said he preferred the Bill Walsh approach. That's how they did it in Baltimore under Brian Billick, a Walsh disciple. "When he answered that question," Tannenbaum said, "I knew he was beholden to winning and not just being Buddy Ryan Jr."
|The Jets' coach and GM have had their share of laughs -- just ask Mike about Rex's "dress sweats."|