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Posted at 5:31 PM ET, 01/18/2011

Rex Ryan and the Jets: some valuable lessons

By LaVar Arrington

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.

By LaVar Arrington  | January 18, 2011; 5:31 PM ET
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Again a very well written piece LA. If more coaches took the same approach the NFL would no longer be the NO FUN LEAGUE... Goodell needs to go and get a Commissioner like Rex Ryan to take over...

Posted by: thaoldboy | January 20, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

The only thing Rex Ryan is an expert on, is feet.

R. Ryan= "The Toe-cheese king"

Posted by: Defund_NPR | January 20, 2011 7:53 PM | Report abuse

LaVar can write. Enjoyed this one.

Let's hope the Redskin's players adopt Shanahan's all-business approach because Ryan's act wouldn't sit well in Washington - we've had enough circus time.

Posted by: clandestinetomcat | January 20, 2011 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Lavar, this post was on the money, just like your radio segment from earlier in the week. The Jets and Ravens defense are perfect examples of buying into the system, and the system being bigger than anyone player or coach. This year, when Revis was out, the Jets defense wasn't as lights out as it is now. Because the system Rex has put in place is not only shaped to fit his roster, but his roster is built with the type of players that will thrive in his system. The Ravens were built very much the same way. Even after the loss of the DC, they still do business the same way on defense. The Steelers, Pats, and the other contenders were built much the same way. I hope that Shanny learned from his past mistakes, both in Denver and last year. Shanny has a lot of fence mending to do.

Posted by: sam_spg94 | January 20, 2011 10:38 PM | Report abuse

alright Lavar ....who's doing the writing for you man

Posted by: Mark99 | January 21, 2011 5:46 PM | Report abuse

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