Great news, Jets fans: The Rex Ryan who was instrumental in the team's 6-10 record last season would like you to know he isn't nearly as bad at his job as he appears.
"I'm a hell of a lot better football coach than I'm given credit for," Ryan told Newsday Thursday following the conclusion of the team's minicamp.
"I don't care," he added, smiling. "I don't need the credit. But I can tell you one thing, when it's said and done, they'll look back and say, 'Oh man, this dude can coach his butt off.' And you know what? It's true. And I'll let the people that know best talk on my behalf about the kind of coach I am. I don't have to brag, even though statistically, I can brag about anything I've ever done defensively."
It is with some irony that Ryan says he'll "let the people that know best" about his talents do the talking on his behalf -- and then he proceeds to take up his own cause.
Prior to 2011, it was easy to argue that Ryan was really good at his job. After capably serving at the Ravens' defensive coordinator, he was hired to coach the Jets in 2009 and promptly led Gang Green to back-to-back AFC Championship games. Then the team slipped to 8-8 in 2011, which was punctuated by an embarrassing Week 17 loss to the Dolphins that included Santonio Holmes getting benched.
It only got worse from there. The Jets traded for Tim Tebow last offseason, which proved to be an unmitigated disaster, and Mark Sanchez made his case for the league's worst quarterback as the team limped to six wins. It cost general manager Mike Tannenbaum his job, though through it all, Ryan remains.
And now he wants to prove to his doubters that he can still coach.
"I'll never be able to erase [last season]," Ryan told Newsday. "But I can learn from it. That unfortunately is going to be with me. It drives you to the point where you say, 'Look, I've learned.'
Whether the coach has learned enough to reverse the Jets' fortunes is another story. Because one more dumpster fire of a season and it's reasonable to think Ryan will be looking for work come January.