The acronym for Rex Ryan's football philosophy is rather dark.
KILL is a word that carries a horrifying connotation in everyday life, but it took on a whole new meaning throughout Jets Nation today.
"You've heard of the K.I.S.S. philosophy — 'Keep It Simple, Stupid,' " said the Jets' 17th head coach in the first ever news conference held inside the team's new auditorium here at the Atlantic Health Training Center in Florham Park, N.J. "That's for somebody else. Ours is a K.I.L.L. philosophy — we're going to 'Keep It Likeable and Learnable.' "
As far as first days on the job, you'd be hard-pressed to top Ryan's performance with the Green & White. Simply put, the 46-year-old was sensational.
And after spending the better half of today following Ryan, I can see why Jets owner Woody Johnson told reporters, "Rex Ryan is a unique person. He is a great coach and a great fit."
Ryan's first interview as head coach of the Jets was with myself and Randy Lange, our editor-in-chief, in a first-floor offensive meeting room at 8:20 this morning. Dressed in a sharp black suit, he wore a dapper green tie over his cream colored button-down shirt and was equipped with a Jets pin. Born in Oklahoma, he displayed a real Midwestern charm and his smile was infectious.
You need only a few minutes to be drawn to this oversized character, a big man with an enormous personality. After 22 seasons coaching, he doesn't look at his new position as a job.
"It's just something that isn't work. It's just love, it's the passion that I have," he says. "This is my hobby and my profession, so that's a good combination."
Once just a lifelong dream, Ryan's quest of leading a team was realized today. He told us football came easy to him and he used high school English for quality time to draw defensive diagrams.
"My brother [Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan] and I used to talk about that it was actually us who invented the '46' defense, not my dad," he said with a hearty laugh. "We showed it to him and he liked it." I'm not sure if Rex was serious or not.
He will be an easy man to follow because of his experience and his pedigree. He was heralded by the defenders in Baltimore because they respected the coach and respected the man.
"I think they understand that I care about them as men and I care about them as players. I want what's best for them. I'm just myself and they know that I'm legitimate. I'm not a guy that's wishy-washy," he said.
Ryan wanted to be in New York. Throughout the day, he repeated that the Jets have the talent to win now and he firmly stated that his goal was championships. He takes over a team that won nine games last season and has no plans to rebuild.
"I had opportunities probably to coach other places," he said. "This is the place I wanted to coach at. Is it a challenge? Do you kind of live in a fishbowl? Absolutely. But I'm not afraid of a challenge. I'm going to meet it head-on."
They met head-on in Baltimore over the past decade. That fearsome Ravens defense, keeping it likeable and learnable, went out and made history.
"We wanted to be special. There's only one way to do that and that's to attack it," Ryan told us before he delivered another "A" performance in "the aud" and finished up with some afternoon one-on-one interviews. "We wanted to be aggressive with our mindset and we wanted to attack in our preparation, we wanted to attack the way we practiced and we wanted to attack on the field."
And now that attack mentality has arrived in NYC. A huge fan of Bruce Springsteen, Ryan's promise is that his D will be "Born to Run."
"You're going to see a drastic change in maybe some of the style of play, you know, in particular on defense," he said. "Read-and-react is for somebody else. We're going to be attacking from the whistle. You're going to see us go not to the whistle but through the whistle, and that's how we're going to play. We're going to turn the heat up, we're going to let the fur fly and let's see what happens."
"It was direct and to the point and to the fans as well," added CB Darrelle Revis, who was on hand for the news conference and heard Ryan call him the best corner in the NFL. "It's good that he's coming in already knowing what his plan is for us."
Under Ryan, the Jets will use KILL for the fight. They're going to come out of their corner charging and the combinations will fly.
"We're going to try to put pressure on everybody that we play with our style of play. We want to be known as the most physical football team in the NFL, and whatever that means, you kind of figure it out," he said. "We're going to take care of each other. The players will have each other's backs, and if you take a swipe at one of ours, we'll take a swipe at two of yours, and that's just the way this game is going to be played."
While Ryan's first priority will be to complete his staff, many reporters and fans want to know the new head coach's thoughts on a possible Brett Favre return.
Ryan, who touted Favre's work as a passer, said he would talk to the man who calls Kiln, Miss., home, but has nothing definitively scheduled.
"We'll see what happens. Every decision will be made based on the team. What's best for the football team?" he said. "I haven't seen all the tapes or anything else, but I know the kind of player Brett Favre is and the kind of competitor. I have just great respect for him."
Among the many players in attendance at today's news conference, wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery voiced that he would like to see No. 4 back in '09.
"I feel like we have some unfinished business with him being our leader at quarterback," J-Co said. "I would love for him to come back. If he would come back, we would definitely welcome him."