1. I think the biggest misconception about me is that I’m a players’ coach who doesn’t hold guys accountable. I’m a players’ coach, yes, but I’m as demanding on my players as anybody I know—I just do it in a different way.
2. I think the greatest defense of all time was my dad’s ’85 Bears, and I don’t think in my career I’ll ever coach a better defense. But I’ll sure as heck try.
3a. I think my greatest coaching nemesis is Bill Belichick, but Mike Tomlin is a close second because he’s beaten me in two AFC championship games.
3b. I think my greatest player nemesis is Peyton Manning. I thought the Baltimore team I was defensive coordinator for was going to win a Super Bowl in the 2006 season—we had the best team in football, and it wasn’t close—but it was Peyton’s play-calling, against me, that won the Colts the divisional-round game. I took it really personally, but I finally got him in the 2010 playoffs with the Jets.
4. I think when we play the Buccaneers and Darrelle Revis in Week 1, I’ll make sure Marty Mornhinweg is very aware of the Revis Rules we used to follow in practice: If the ball is on the far hash mark from where Revis is lined up, you can forget about throwing a comeback or an out route his direction, because Revis is going to pick it.
Rex Ryan thinks he knows the keys to getting off Revis Island alive. (Rich Kane/Icon SMI)
5. I think the outside talk about me being a lame-duck coach really doesn’t bother me, because this is the best I’ve felt, ever. I’ve finally figured out how to be a head coach in my own way, and how to lead and get my vision of the team through to my players. I have to coach defense every single day.
6. I think the greatest motivator of men I have ever been around is Ray Lewis, because Ray Lewis motivated me as a coach. His message was always clear, always about the brotherhood of his team, and that’s who I am.
7. I think Clemson is a good fit for my son, Seth, a preferred walk-on to the football team. When I met coach Dabo Swinney at the school’s Pro Day last year, I noticed that he talks about his players just like I talk about my players, so I know he cares about them an unbelievable amount.
8. I think if we had a quiz show on the history of our game, I could beat anybody in the NFL, because I know the history backward and forward. Now if we had a spelling bee, I bet you I’d be dead last.
9. I think the read-option is here to stay because of the young men who are running it. It used to be that if you had a running quarterback he really couldn’t throw, but now we have more of these great hybrid athletes entering the league and thriving at the position.