Let's just say it, because we know you're all thinking it: Jets coach
He predicted a Super Bowl victory about 10 minutes after he took the gig. He declared his club's season over when it wasn't. He comes from the
Rex Ryan even comes from a long line of odd ducks. His twin brother,
Buddy issued bounties for the heads of opposing players, battled with his bosses, ran up the score on his rivals whenever possible and, in his serene golden years, tried to punch out one of his fellow assistants on national television.
Oh, Buddy also went to Super Bowls as a defensive assistant with three teams (1968 Jets, 1976 Vikings and 1985 Bears) and created perhaps the most intimidating defensive force in modern NFL annals. A quarter-century later, the phrase "1985 Bears" still rings with an air of howling, bone-chilling defensive ferocity that causes Hall of Famer
Like his odd duck old man, Rex has delivered the goods. He promised Jets fans an ass-kicking defense. And, in his first year with the team, he's delivered an ass-kicking defense.
Oh, sure, the Jets are a borderline playoff team at 9-7. And, yes, they backed into the playoffs, like a little-old lady who unknowingly shifted the car into reverse at a red light.
But we fault no team or no man for taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them. The Jets simply took advantage of these opportunities, and they did it almost exclusively on the strength of Rex Ryan's defense. That unit is almost singularly responsible for lifting a team with a dysfunctional rookie quarterback and an odd duck rookie head coach into the playoffs.
Here's a look at how the Jets stacked up in several key defensive indicators last year under
We don't care how odd your coach is, that's called delivering the goods.
The most impressive aspect of New York's run to the playoffs is that the team had to overcome one of the most incompetent passing attacks in football to get there -- their own.
Loyal Cold, Hard Football Facts readers know that passing the ball well on offense and stopping the pass on defense are the magic yin & yang that lead to success in the NFL.
Yet the Jets this year failed miserably in one end of the equation. Like most rookies throughout history, Jets quarterback
• 21st in
• 28th in interceptions (21)
• 28th in
• 29th in touchdown passes (12)
• 30th in interception percentage (5.34) -- interestingly, teams with rookie QBs rounded out the bottom three in INT percentage: Tampa, Detroit, N.Y. Jets
Those numbers typically add up to a long, lousy season, as they did for all the other teams with equally inept passing games this year: the Rams, Raiders, Buccaneers, Lions and Browns. The Jets are easily the worst passing team in the playoffs.
Sure, pigskin pundits tied to tired old theories of success in football are raving about New York's top-ranked rushing attack (172.2). But as CHFF readers know, a top-ranked rushing attack and $10 will get you five chalupas on the Taco Bell Diet and not much else.
Great running teams rarely go far in the NFL, while great passing teams typically win Super Bowls. Besides the Jets this year, the great running teams are the Titans (with
None of those teams have great a quarterback or a great defense. So none of those teams are in the playoffs, despite their great rushing attacks.
The reputed great running teams that have gone far in NFL history, meanwhile, were almost always accompanied by incredibly effective passing attacks led by Hall of Fame quarterbacks -- the 1960s Packers, the 1970s Steelers, the 1990s Cowboys and 1990s Broncos some notable examples. So great running teams with great defenses rarely do much without a great quarterback. The 2009 Jets are a rare exception.
In fact, only two teams since the merger that led the league in rushing yards have gone on to win a Super Bowl. The first was the undefeated 1972 Dolphins, who led the league in everything, including scoring defense. The last was the mighty 1985 Bears, whose top-ranked defense was masterminded by, that's right, Buddy Ryan -- the odd duck of an old man.