Archive for Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ryan’s hiring business as usual for Jets

January 20, 2009


— Here they go again. They hear those trumpets blow again. All aglow again. Takin’ a chance on . . . another hot young coordinator.

Well, maybe not so young, but stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

The resume of Rex Ryan, the latest hot (not-so-young) coordinator to be anointed the next savior of the Jets, is not all that much different from that of his buddy Eric Mangini.

He has the pedigree by birth — Buddy Ryan is his dad — that Mangini had by association, having been a pup out of Bill Belichick, who in turn was a pup of Bill Parcells.

He has the great, swarming defense of the Baltimore Ravens as the lead line on his resume, the way Mangini had that of the New England Patriots.

And he wears the tag of the up-and-comer, despite his age (46) and that last year, he was passed over for the top jobs in Baltimore and Atlanta.

Who knows, Ryan might turn out to be everything Parcells and Belichick developed into and everything Mangini so far has not. There is no reason yet to condemn this pick or to wish it anything less than the best. Two years from now, Ryan might be the next Ken Whisenhunt.

But as it stands now, without a game having been played or a strategic decision having been made, isn’t this just another case of Jets Business as Usual?

In other words, rather than bring in an experienced, powerful coach/general manager type to institute his own system, just hire a coordinator and have him work within the Jets’ system. Which, incidentally, hasn’t worked all that well in more than four decades.

Throughout their 45-year history, the Jets have now employed 15 head coaches (17 if you include their three seasons as the Titans). Only once in all that time have they handed over the reins of the entire operation to a single man and entrusted him to fix it.

That man was Parcells and for the brief time he was here, it worked.

All the rest of the successors to Weeb Ewbank, from Charley Winner to Mangini, were the same guy. A guy asked to work within an inherently dysfunctional system, a system that has rarely, if ever, featured a strong football man at the helm. In short, the proverbial coach hired to be fired.

Except in the case of Parcells, who wouldn’t have it any other way, the Jets have never allowed a true football architect to tear the building down to its foundation and rebuild it from the ground up.

That is why, in their hunt for Mangini’s successor, the Jets ignored the likes of Mike Shanahan and Jon Gruden and showed only cursory interest in Bill Cowher, preferring instead to surf the list of hot young and not-so-young coordinators around the league, guys who hunger for the chance and aren’t going to be too demanding about the working conditions.

For years, the Jets have needed someone to come in with a bulldozer, tear everything down and rebuild it in his own vision. Time and again, they’ve settled for merely a new coat of paint.

Ryan may turn out to be the artist-in-training the Jets have been seeking, but until proven otherwise, you have to fear he’ll wind up as just another house painter.

Here they go again.


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