Rex Ryan and the Jets: some valuable lessons
Much criticism has been aimed at Rex Ryan for being too outspoken. His brash (and at times witty) comments to the media would lead you to believe he is turning all of the focus on him, rather than on his players. The people who believe that couldn't be more incorrect.
A team is always an extension of its coach. If Rex Ryan was a media talker and that was it, he would most likely be sitting at home with a losing record wondering where he would work next. Am I saying he would be unemployed? Yes I am. When a person is shown on camera at a hockey game changing shirts and his belly is sticking out, it's not a good look for a head coach. When he gets caught up in a foot-fettish scandal, it's not a good look for a head coach. When one of his assistants trips a guy during a play in a game, again, it's just not a good look for a head coach. All of these examples could lead one to believe that this guy isn't deserving of leading a NFL team.
The reason why that's incorrect is because Ryan has taken his unorthodox style of coaching and motivating, and has made his entire team, from the owner on down, believers in his philosophy. And that philosophy is, we don't care if you're offended by us, we don't care if you know how we feel about the challenge, as a matter of fact we want you all to know what we plan on doing because we are going to do it!
This isn't an act that is being put on for the media to run with. What it is to the New York Jets is a frame of mind that has now become a culture that everyone seems to embrace. These players take their lead from Ryan and have embraced being hated and being trash-talking bullies. Ryan has transformed what was an average team into a team of over-achievers who are playing in the AFC Divisional Championship game for the second time in his two-season tenure as head coach.
Here are the two lessons I take from this Jets team.
First, if you are going to lead, then lead with a conviction that is so strong that the ones you are leading are consumed by it and believe in it so deeply that they trust it will work. The results then follow.
The second lesson is people will always be very quick to judge. It's just human nature. People have judged Ryan all year long. After a behind the scenes look at him on "Hard Knocks," the HBO show that follows teams around during training camp, who could blame people for judging Ryan? It would seem as though he sets himself up for criticism. But I believe that Ryan understands the approach that he has chosen to take. I believe Ryan is an intelligent, thoughtful, sincere and genuine person.
So what's the lesson? I'm a chess player. I have loved and studied chess for a long time. My father taught me how to play, and his consistent message was always, let your opponent underestimate you but never underestimate your opponent. If you do that you will always give yourself an edge in competition. I follow this line of thought in everything I do, and it would seem as though Ryan does the same and his team is benefiting from it.
| January 18, 2011; 5:31 PM ET
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