FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Rex Ryan and Woody Johnson met the media Tuesday, wearing Jets-green ties and presenting an unusually united front for a coach and owner coming off an abysmal season that produced far more in the way of turbulence than touchdowns.
The general manager is gone, along with the offensive, defensive and special teams coordinators.
Ryan isn’t going anywhere because Johnson really likes him.
More than that, “I trust him,” Johnson said.
“I think Rex is perfect for the New York Jets,” he said. “He is 100 percent this team.”
So, basking in that comfort zone, Ryan laid out his plans for the future of the 6-10 New York Jets, speaking mostly in generalities and giving few specifics about two guys named Sanchez and Tebow.
Ryan made big, bold pronouncements – the kind he made when he was hired four years ago: “We are going to be a dangerous football team. I can promise you that. I’m going to tell you, you’re not going to want to play the Jets.”
“We’re not going to be bullied. Fans don’t like for their team to be embarrassed. We were embarrassed at times last year. That’s not going to happen. We might not win every game, and no team does. But you’ve got to stand for something. We’re going to be the team you don’t want to play.”
He managed to stop short of guaranteeing a Super Bowl trip.
Ryan told the packed news conference room at the training facility that, yes, he thought he might get fired after the season because he “failed” to leave his imprint on all aspects of the team, particularly on offense. That, and perhaps the fact the Jets haven’t made the playoffs in two straight seasons.
“I don’t think I’ve done as good a job of implementing who I am throughout this team,” Ryan said. “I want a physical, aggressive, attack style.”
To get it, he’s wiping the slate clean, zoning out all the bad vibes tied to Mark Sanchez being an ineffective starting quarterback and leader, and Tim Tebow being his invisible backup.
“I’m approaching this day like it’s the first day. Period,” Ryan said. “Like my first day as a head coach. This is a new chance for me. This is a beginning, certainly not an end.”
It was the end for general manager Mike Tannenbaum and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, who both were fired, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, whose contract was not renewed, and special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff, who retired.
Johnson said Ryan will have a say in hiring the new GM. San Francisco director of player personnel Tom Gamble has been considered by many to be the front-runner, but he has attracted interest from several teams. So has Atlanta director of player personnel David Caldwell, who was hired Tuesday by Jacksonville.
The team also met with Marc Ross, the Giants’ director of college scouting, and in-house candidate Scott Cohen, the Jets’ assistant GM. Johnson acknowledged that the team has told candidates they will have to be willing to work with Ryan, who brushed off any talk that he could be considered a lame-duck coach.
“I’m pretty sure I’ll have the exact same agenda as the general manager,” Ryan said. “We want to win.”
Sparano was fired Tuesday after one season in which the offense ranked among the league’s worst, and quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh is also out after four seasons.
“I have failed in that area,” Ryan said.
Neither Sparano nor Cavanaugh could get Sanchez to make the next step in his development, and the quarterback actually regressed this season – culminating in the first benching of his career. Sanchez’s 52 turnovers the past two seasons are the most in the NFL. Ryan and Johnson insisted money wouldn’t factor into any decisions on personnel – despite the fact Sanchez is owed $8.25 million in guarantees and would cost the Jets a $17.1 million salary cap hit if they cut him.
“We’ll play the player that fits what we do best,” Ryan said, refusing to commit to Sanchez.