Rex Ryan, almost done getting his Jets ready to tackle the Texans in Houston on Sunday, was invited to take a stroll down memory lane at today’s news conference.
The questioner was Dan Leberfeld of Sirius NFL Radio and Jets Confidential. The game in question was Jan. 2, 1994, 15½ years ago in Houston, which Leberfeld said was his first covering the Jets on the road. It was also the game that Buddy Ryan, Rex’s dad and the Houston Oilers’ defensive coordinator, punched Oilers OC Kevin Gilbride on the home team’s sideline in the Astrodome.
Rex was not at that game — he was an assistant coach at Morehead State in Kentucky — but he recalled the day as if he had been there.
"I remember the Oilers were having a great run, they won 10 or 11 in a row, and there was a lot of talk that my dad was going to get a head-coaching job again," Ryan recalled. "He’d already said I was going to go with him if he got a head-coaching job. We were all fired up about that."
But brash Buddy was not a big Gilbride fan, and things boiled over for him when, with 32 seconds left in the first half, QB Cody Carlson was sacked by Jets DE Marvin Washington and DT Bill Pickel recovered at the Oilers 18.
"Apparently, Dad had seen enough," Rex said. "Kevin’s gone on to do some great things in this league as a coordinator. Things like that occasionally happen on the sideline.
"I remember sitting there watching the game and saying, ‘Ohmigod! Dad, you gotta be kidding me!’ " he said. "I was at Morehead State and Phil Simms was not our quarterback. It was a good job for me at the time, but I just said my opportunity to be an NFL coach, ‘Awww, there it goes.’ "
Not quite, of course. Buddy did get the big job with the Cardinals for 1994-95 and brought Rex and Rob Ryan with him.
"That was huge," Rex said. "If I didn’t get those two years to coach under my dad, I wouldn’t be the coach I am now."
Nor standing where he stood today, at the podium in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center media workroom, ready to launch his own NFL head-coaching career in two days.
Ryan started his newser off with sobering thoughts about the observance of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"I’d like to remember all the people affected by 9/11," the coach said. "It’s obviously a tragic day in our country’s history, especially in this area. But I just wanted to remember all those affected by that day. … Here we are getting ready to play a football game, you think it’s really important — I do — and it’s just kind of a dose of reality. I realize how fortunate I am to be in this position."
Simms on Rookie QBs
It’s interesting that Ryan brought up Simms in his recollections of that incident involving his father, since Simms and Jim Nantz will be calling the Jets-Texans game for CBS on Sunday.
I’ve always been a fan of Simms the broadcaster, no doubt in part because I was a fan of Simms the quarterback.
I was there in New Orleans in 1979 for the first extended activity of Simms’ career as the Giants’ QB of the future, and I remember how the then-rookie out of the aforementioned Morehead State went to his locker in the Superdome’s visitors locker room after the game, welts covering his back from being knocked around by the Saints, to get dressed, then turning around and being slightly surprised by the welter of reporters waiting to talk with him.
Simms, one of the top NFL analysts in the game, doesn’t get surprised by much any more, especially questions about rookie QBs. I remember visiting with Phil about his thoughts on Ray Lucas, who took the Jets’ offensive controls midway through the 1999 season, and the next April about Chad Pennington, taken by the Jets in the first round of the 2000 draft.
I didn’t pin Phil down on Mark Sanchez yet — Eric Allen and I will get him for a "Jets Two-Minute Drive" radio show down the road — but Simms did speak with reporters on a CBS Kickoff Week conference call on some subjects of interest to fans of the Green & White and of Sanchez. Here’s some of the Q&A from that interview.
On the prospects for rookie first-rounders Sanchez and Matt Stafford: "They have validated everything people have thought about them in the draft. If it had been up to me, not that I have the knowledge or resources that NFL teams have, I thought they were the first and second players in the draft. And from what I have seen, this preseason backs up what I thought. Their talents are going to translate very well to the NFL. The most important thing is both teams have offensive coordinators that are going to build their offense around what they do best."
On Sanchez working with Jets OC Brian Schottenheimer: "I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with Mark this week. Brian Schottenheimer is the perfect match in every way. I like what he does as an offensive coordinator. He is young and wants to show off Mark’s talents and personality. The big thing for Sanchez, which I’ll talk about this weekend, is the difference between the pros and college football. In the pros there will be long stretches where you have no chance to make plays. How you deal with those long stretches really determines the outcome of many games. You just have to wait and show patience. You might have to wait three weeks. You just hang in there and try not to throw any gas on the fire. And then when it’s your turn, you do it."
On preseason talk about the Texans: "What is interesting about the game is that the Houston Texans have two 8-8 records back-to-back. They are somewhat of a trendy pick this year to make the playoffs and advance on their 8-8 records. My reaction? We will see. Going from 8-8 to 10-6 is like going from making $20,000 a year to making $100,000 a year. It’s a big, big jump. It usually takes stars, big-time impact players, to make that happen. For Houston, Mario Williams and Andre Johnson are stars. There is a group of other guys that are close, but will they become impact players?"
Simms has been working Jets games for CBS since 1997. Here is a list of the eight previous season openers he’s worked, which include the Jets debuts of head coaches Al Groh (2000) and Herm Edwards (2001) and QB Brett Favre (2008) (home team in CAPS):
|1998||Greg Gumbel||49ERS 36, Jets 30 (OT)|
|1999||Greg Gumbel||Patriots 30, JETS 28|
|2000||Greg Gumbel||Jets 20, PACKERS 16|
|2001||Greg Gumbel||Colts 45, JETS 24|
|2002||Greg Gumbel||Jets 37, BILLS 31 (OT)|
|2005||Jim Nantz||CHIEFS 27, Jets 7|
|2007||Jim Nantz||Patriots 38, JETS 14|
|2008||Jim Nantz||Jets 20, DOLPHINS 14|
Gumbel, Simms’ first CBS play-by-play partner, will work the Jets’ next two games this season, the home opener against New England on Sept. 20 and the home game vs. Tennessee on Sept. 27, along with Dan Dierdorf.
Injury List Addition
Ryan said the Jets are adding TE Dustin Keller to the Jets injury list as probable with a toe. "He looked good out there. He looked good dancing today," Ryan said about the indoor practice to get out of the daylong North Jersey rain. "I think he’s going to be fine but he did report having a little problem with the toe." Which toe? Rex didn’t know.
The coach also said DE Mike DeVito (hamstring) will be listed as questionable, "even though I think he will play."
Don’t Forget the Fan Tunnel
Ryan also reminded Jets fans who have an open Saturday morning to come out to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center to create a special sendoff for the team. Fans will be instructed to form a tunnel that the players will walk through, offering up some high-fives and optimistic words along the way, before getting on the team buses and departing for the airport. Ryan and safety Kerry Rhodes are expected to make remarks to the crowd.
The time for this event hasn’t yet been pinned down, but if you arrive by 10 a.m. you’ll be ready for the activities ahead. "It’ll be good," Ryan said, "if you can help out with this."
One last note on this event: If it rains heavily, the event will be canceled. The forecast now calls for occasional rain and drizzle. Anyone planning to come to this event should check with newyorkjets.com or call the Jets Fan Line at 973-549-4844.
Tags: Buddy Ryan, Houston Oilers, Houston Texans, Mark Sanchez, Phil Simms, Rex Ryan
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