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Former EKU assistant takes over Jets

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) - A confident Rex Ryan sent notice to
the rest of the NFL: The New York Jets will be no pushovers with
him as coach.
"We want to be known as the most physical football team in the
NFL," Ryan said Wednesday morning at Jets headquarters after being
introduced by team owner Woody Johnson.
"The players will have each other's backs, and if you take a
swipe at one of ours, we'll take a swipe at two of yours."
Hired Monday to replace the fired Eric Mangini, Ryan takes over
a Jets team that started last season 8-3 but missed the playoffs
with quarterback Brett Favre after a late-season collapse. He spoke
firmly and without hesitation when speaking of the task at hand.
"The only way I know how to handle a challenge is to hit that
thing head on," said Ryan, decked out in a black suit and,
appropriately, a green tie. "The message to the rest of the league
is `Hey, the Jets are coming, and we're going to give you
everything we got. And I think that's going to be more than you can
handle."'
Ryan is the 46-year-old son of former NFL coach Buddy Ryan, an
assistant on the Jets' only Super Bowl team 40 years ago. The
younger Ryan will be charged with getting the franchise back to the
playoffs, something Mangini did just once - as a rookie coach - in
his three seasons. He signed a four-year deal, reportedly worth
$11.6 million.
"I'm not blessed with a silver tongue," Ryan said, "but I
know one thing: I know how to coach this game."
Ryan, Baltimore's defensive coordinator the past four years, is
the twin brother of Cleveland defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. He
has no previous head coaching experience, but has been an assistant
at the pro and college levels for more than 20 years. Nicknamed
`The Mad Scientist' by his players for his aggressive and
unpredictable game plans, Ryan spent the past 10 seasons with the
Ravens. His No. 2-ranked unit helped Baltimore reach the AFC
championship game against Pittsburgh.
Asked if he was in favor of Favre returning for another season,
Ryan said, "I would think anybody would want him as their
quarterback."
He quickly added: "Everything will be looked at, our coaches'
input and everything. Sometimes you don't have your best game for
whatever reason and we'll take a look. But certainly I know the
respect I have for Brett Favre is great and it comes from firsthand
info. I've seen him up close and personal and that's good enough
for me."
Ryan also interviewed for the St. Louis vacancy that went to
Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Ryan is said to be
well liked among his players because of his straightforward, yet
colorful and animated approach, which will be a departure from
Mangini's stoic, disciplinarian style.
It became apparent Ryan was at the top of the Jets' list of
candidates when several other teams filled their coaching vacancies
and New York's remained open. The Jets needed Baltimore's season to
end - which happened Sunday with a 23-14 loss to the Steelers -
before offering him the job.
The deal was completed Monday afternoon after Johnson and
general manager Mike Tannenbaum flew to Baltimore to iron out the
details. The three then flew to New Jersey and Ryan got started on
his new job as the Jets' fifth coach this decade, including Bill
Belichick's 24-hour stint before abruptly resigning in 2000.
"I'm not a one-hit wonder," Ryan said. "When you look at my
background, I think I've been successful at all stops along the
way. I know the kind of responsibility it takes to be a head
football coach. Again, you got the right guy - and I plan on
proving that each and every week."
Ryan's Baltimore defense has been ranked in the top six in total
yardage allowed the past four years and led the NFL this season
with 34 takeaways. Ryan prefers to run a 3-4 defensive scheme,
which the Jets already have in place. New York spent big bucks last
offseason acquiring players that excel in the 3-4, including nose
tackle Kris Jenkins and linebacker Calvin Pace.
Ryan inherits a defense that had an impressive start with 29
sacks in its first eight games but just 12 in the last half of the
season. The secondary also might need a makeover, ranking 29th
overall against the pass despite Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis
and playmaking safety Kerry Rhodes.
Although the Jets scored 405 points, the third-highest total in
franchise history, the offense still has some glaring needs. Other
than determining who's at quarterback, New York needs a tall,
speedy receiver to complement Jerricho Cotchery and Laveranues
Coles.
Ryan was the only remaining assistant from Baltimore's 2000
Super Bowl team. He spent six seasons as the Ravens' defensive line
coach before being promoted to coordinator.
The Ravens fired coach Brian Billick and his entire staff,
including Ryan, after the 2007 season. Ryan interviewed for the job
that eventually went to John Harbaugh, who rehired Ryan and added
the title of assistant head coach.
Ryan played football at Southwestern Oklahoma State and got into
coaching in 1987, spending two years coaching defensive ends at
Eastern Kentucky. After stints as the defensive coordinator at New
Mexico Highlands and Morehead State, he spent two years under his
father as a defensive assistant with the Arizona Cardinals.
Ryan became the defensive coordinator at the University of
Cincinnati from 1996-97 before taking the same job at Oklahoma. He
joined the Ravens before the 1999 season, working his way up to
defensive coordinator.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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