Ryan's mouth has everyone talking

September 11, 2010|Peter Schmuck

It seems like every time you turn around, somebody is complaining about Rex Ryan.

Former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy called him out recently for his liberal use of profanity throughout the popular HBO inside-the-lines series "Hard Knocks." Le'Ron McClain and Ray Lewis have both tangled with him during the buildup to Monday night's season opener between the Ravens and New York Jets at the new Meadowlands Stadium.

I think we can all stipulate that Rex has a tendency to talk his way onto a ledge, but let's be honest for a minute. There's a reason why he was loved by everyone who played for him — and the media who covered him — when he was the Ravens defensive coordinator, and it's the same reason that he's been getting under our skin this week.

He's the cure for the common coach.

Admit it. This extra-long week leading up to the regular-season opener on Monday night has gone by in a flash, and that's because it has been a non-stop cavalcade of trash talk and roster intrigue. I can't remember an opening week buildup that was this much fun and I'm betting you can't either.

It's not all because of Ryan and the end of the Darrelle Revis holdout. The Ravens delivered on their end with the signing of veteran receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh and the deal that sent Mark Clayton to the St. Louis Rams. They also played along after Ryan turned some fairly innocent comments by McClain into bulletin board material — for both teams.

But make no mistake: Rex has been a lightning rod throughout the preseason, his frequent rants getting maximum exposure because the Jets are the featured team this year on "Hard Knocks."

That exposure proved that not all publicity is good publicity when Dungy — now an NBC football analyst who has become TV's go-to guy on the NFL's ethical and behavioral issues — made an issue of the salty language Ryan employs unabashedly in the show.

"I'm disappointed with all the profanity,'' Dungy said on "The Dan Patrick Show" in mid-August. "I think Rex can make his points without all that."

Of course, I normally would agree. It's certainly possible — and preferable — to manage and motivate young men without the profligate use of the F-bomb, and Dungy is the proof of that. He was a very successful NFL coach for a long time while maintaining a very high standard of personal and professional behavior.

Ryan, obviously, is a little rougher around the edges, but I'm finding it hard to get too worked up about that. The HBO series is on pay cable and everyone knows that it's an edgy look behind the curtain of an NFL franchise. I'm guessing it's no accident that the producers chose the Jets and their off-the-wall head coach.

Rex is great TV. He's a big teddy bear who loves his players and loves the camera and doesn't apologize for his occasional verbal excesses. If you're keeping score at home, he predicted the Jets would win the Super Bowl last year and quickly doubled down on that prediction during this year's OTA season.

His brash outbursts generally are delivered with a wink, but he definitely has touched some nerves this week. When he used an unflattering anecdote about Lewis and Ed Reed during an episode of "Hard Knocks," Lewis fired back.

"Coach Mark Sanchez. …Coach your Jets," Lewis said on Thursday. "My name should not come out [of] Rex's mouth unless you're telling somebody to come block me, which is going to be a very hard [darn] task come Monday night."

Lewis also took issue with the stream of predictions that seem to flow unabated out of his old defensive coordinator.

"This game ain't played through tongues,'' he said. "This game is played when you buckle up your chin strap. So, all the pressure he wants to put on his team, I hope they can cash the checks he writes."

Ryan's response: No retreat. No surrender.

"I'm laughing,'' Ryan said. "I think it's great. That's good. I don't care one way or the other. We have a team that doesn't have to sneak up on people to tell them what we think. We expect to be a great football team. We expect to win. We go into every game expecting to win. If that's cashing a check and all that other stuff, so be it."

If you know the history here, you probably won't be surprised when all those guys are hugging each other after the game and all this has been forgotten.

It's just Rex being Rex, and — really — what's wrong with that?

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

Listen to Peter Schmuck on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon Fridays and Saturdays and with Brett Hollander on Tuesday and Thursday at six. Also, check out his blog "The Schmuck Stops Here" at http://www.baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.

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