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Great Words Now, Hard Work Ahead

Posted by Randy Lange on January 8, 2013 – 2:46 pm

It’s a testament to what the Jets have become that a 6-10 team could wait until nine days after the end of its season to hold its end-of-season news conference — and create a bigger scene than it would have eight days earlier.

All the trappings of a major news event were here at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center today: satellite trucks and Sal Pal standups outside the reporters’ area, assigned seating for the packed news conference room, Woody Johnson and Rex Ryan in business suits facing the media music.

There could have been contention among the beat reporters for the Jets possibly having been in violation of the “Bill Parcells Rule” that advises all teams to hold end-of-season news conferences within seven days after their last games, the rule named for when the Tuna took the organization “down to the bunker” for a month or two after some of those seasons back in the Eighties.

But it was never the Jets’ intention to violate the spirit of the rule, and the NFL and the Pro Football Writers of America agreed to let this process take its course. Then Johnson may have defused any lingering questions with his opening remarks.

“I want to make an apology. I’ve read your statements,” the Jets’ now 14th-year chairman and CEO said of the stories about the delay of the post mortem. “The coach is not responsible for this. I wanted him to wait until I had a chance to think a little more about the season. … Your comments about the delay are valid. I take them for what they are. I should’ve gotten back to them earlier.”

That being said, reporters still came at the duo rapidly and relentlessly, at least on the several occasions when multiple people had tough questions that they had to pose simultaneously.

Just as it was within their rights to ask all those questions, pertinent and impertinent, it was also within Rex’s and Woody’s rights to decline to answer every question directly. That’s the way it is at all news conferences of this sort. Some topics can’t be discussed at this time. Some can’t be discussed at any time.

But reporters and fans can easily read between most lines. And the space between one set of lines was clearly legible when Ryan was asked twice early on about the unusual situation of the head coach staying and the guy above him coming in new to the organization, about Rex facing a “make-or-break situation” for the 2013 season.

“I’m pretty sure I’ll have the exact same agenda as the general manager will have — that is, we want to win,” Ryan said. “I don’t know who the general manager is, but I promise you he wants to win as bad as I do. I look at this as a new beginning, just like it’ll be a new beginning for the GM. That’s how I’m approaching it.

“You’re one of 32 men in this country who have this, you’re in the NFL as a head coach. That is an unbelievable honor and a privilege, that’s certainly the way I feel. But I’m excited. I do look at it as a beginning. We’re going to be a dangerous football team, I can promise you that. How many wins and all that, I can’t tell you, but you’re not going to want to play the New York Jets. I know that’s the mentality we’re going take. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”

And reading further between those lines, you can call that Rex’s bluster, or his supreme confidence in his own ability and in the people around him, but it’s something that has further rubbed off on Johnson the four previous seasons.

“Having been in the business of football for quite a while, you can recognize talent when you see it,” the owner. “I’m expressing my confidence in Rex. The only way you’re going to get better is by admitting what you haven’t done so far. Rex knows where he wants to improve and I believe him. He took us two years to a very high level, and it was just a question of whether we made it all the way in those years. I have confidence in Rex as a head coach, as a leader, as a motivator, as a playcaller.

“My confidence in Rex, I’ve stated a number of times,” the owner said later. “I think the general manager, whoever we select, it’s very important that he has to have a good relationship with Rex, which I’m sure he’ll have. That’s the GM’s job, and that’s all I’m going to say on that. We’re going to have all the pieces to put something really great on the field, led by Rex.”

All this being said, it was Jerry Glanville who I recall was the first to say NFL stood for “Not For Long.” So there’s no timeline for Ryan, no leash in the hall closet, no lame duck under glass on the menu. But there are a lot of front office and coaching shoes to fill, a lot of new players arriving, a lot of familiar names departing, some of their own volition, some not. The words today are fine, but a lot of work needs to be done for the Jets to be as dangerous as they can be.

Twenty-12 has finally been deep-sixed. It’s on to 2013.

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