On paper, the New York Jets have found themselves a perfect leader in Rex Ryan.
After 10 years of record-setting in Baltimore, the former Ravens defensive assistant is going to bring a welcomed approach to his new team.
"I was happy. I think this is what we needed, especially defensively," said Jets OLB Calvin Pace when asked about Ryan late this afternoon. "I like everything he does on defense as far as multiple looks — you never know who's blitzing. I think our personnel matches up perfectly to what I've seen him do on TV in the playoffs."
Pace, who registered seven sacks this season, is happy that a change of coaches didn't mean a change of fronts. The Jets are expected to remain in a 3-4 in '09, but there will be plenty of interesting wrinkles.
"I guess you look at it like who are you going to be in that defense. I'm looking at Jarret Johnson and Terrell Suggs," Pace said of the Ravens' outside linebackers. "Which one of those guys am I going to be? I would guess Kerry [Rhodes] would be happy because you see Ed Reed making the plays that he makes. Hopefully we all can mold into what those guys have done."
Thomas Jones, the Jets' 2008 MVP, entered the NFL in 2000. And that just happened to be the same season Ryan (a DL coach at the time) and the Ravens were setting NFL records for points allowed (165) and rush yards surrendered (970) in a 16-game season.
In his role as defensive coordinator, the Ravens never finished lower than sixth overall in total defense.
"Their defense is one of the best in the league almost every year that I've been in the league," TJ said today when reached in Los Angeles. "The years I played against them, they were just relentless. The front seven was very aggressive and the secondary has guys who can make plays on the ball."
During Ryan's 10-year Baltimore tenure, the Ravens led the league in takeaways (337), touchdowns allowed (288) and rushing yards per game (87.2). It helps to have great players like LB Ray Lewis and Reed at your disposal, but Ryan often made the calls to get his talented stars in position to make plays.
"They have great players over there, but it starts with the coaching and obviously Rex Ryan and the guys he had around him," Jones said. "They did a great job down there in Baltimore and hopefully he'll bring the same type of success to our team and everybody will respond collectively to what he brings."
Get ready for a varied defensive attack. The Green & White, winners of nine games in 2008, will attempt to dictate the action. Ryan, a master of unpredictability, will demand that his team is relentless and vicious.
"I think that's the way sometimes you have to play. You can't just be sitting out there so people know where you can be and pretty much know what you are going to do every play," Pace said. "Watching Baltimore, you never know what's going to happen with the guys. I think it's a perfect fit."
After Ryan's introductory press conference Wednesday here in Florham Park, NJ, the real work will begin. It's the start of a new era and these Jets sound ready to get it under way.
"We have confidence that Mike Tannenbaum and Mr. Johnson are going to make the best decision for the team," TJ said. "We're excited about him. I'm excited to get a chance to meet him and I'm pretty sure everyone is excited to get back to work. He had a lot of success at Baltimore, so we're just going to rally behind him and go to work for him."