I spent some time with the Jets this week, and I came away thinking about where that team is headed. Coach Rex Ryan has an infectious attitude. When you talk to him and you’re around it, it’s palpable and it’s real. I think the players feel it, too. I think the Jets are having fun playing for Ryan already.
With Ryan, it’s his defense, it’s his style. There’s nothing between Ryan and football that gets in the way. Nothing. I think the players feel it. I think the players see him as the smartest guy in the room, and they know he can help them win football games.
There were a lot of guys flying around yesterday at OTAs. Here’s an example of a guy who I think can make a mark on this team under Ryan, although he has been in the league for several years and hasn’t done much. Defensive back Ahmad Carroll was the 25th overall pick by the Packers in 2004. He basically wore out his welcome in both Green Bay and Jacksonville. Carroll is going to be the nickel defender for the Jets and will cover slot receivers.
Carroll has tremendous talent, as well as some shortcomings. But I watched Ryan love this kid and pat him on the back. Ryan will find a place for Carroll and then just let him settle into his defensive role. He can be a productive player, including on special teams. That’s Ryan.
One thing Ryan told me was that he had an idea of which coaches he wanted to go after from Eric Mangini’s staff that might be available. There were a couple of guys from that staff that he couldn’t believe he was able to interview and keep — Bill Callahan on the offensive line and Brian Schottenheimer as a the play-caller will bring a lot of continuity on offense. Additionally, Mike Westhoff remains as the special teams coach. Those three assistants will provide a familiarity in two major areas of the team where guys won’t have to learn new schemes. I think that’s important.
I talked with Alan Faneca a bit about the differences between Mangini and Ryan. I have a great deal of respect for Faneca. I think he has been the best and most consistent guard in football for years. I don’t think anyone else is close to him. He didn’t take shots at Mangini — in fact, no one did — but what I’m told is that Ryan is a fun guy to be around and is going to be fun to play football for.
I think guys will run through walls to play for Ryan, like the way they did for his dad in Philadelphia and Chicago.
— Brian Baldinger