Rex Ryan's transparency replaced by avoidance
But now, after four seasons as coach of the Jets, Ryan suddenly has forgotten how to say anything worth listening to.
His shtick -- a dose of unapologetic arrogance mixed with good-natured ribbing -- was once considered refreshing. But his act has fallen by the wayside, replaced by blatant avoidance of the most basic questions.
For someone who touts transparency and openness, Ryan has gone out of his way to provide the exact opposite. Like a frustrated parent who says "Because I said so" in hopes of quieting a curious child, Ryan has taken a similar path with the media. "It was my decision" has become his mantra when pressed about his bewildering roster moves involving Tim Tebow and Greg McElroy.
But here in New York, any form of "because I said so" isn't going to fly.
Had Ryan said weeks (if not months) ago that the Tebow experiment had failed, that the backup's skill set just doesn't mesh with the Jets' vision for the offense, there'd be no reason to question why Ryan chose McElroy to replace Mark Sanchez in Week 16. But instead, Ryan has publicly praised Tebow as a potent Wildcat threat as well as a competent passer -- even though he has kept Tebow idle on the sideline for much of the season.
Despite Ryan's words, it has become painfully clear to everyone that Ryan has no faith in Tebow's abilities, his decision-making or his desire to improve his technique.
Ryan had a chance to set the record straight in the wake of reports stating Tebow asked to sit out of the Wildcat this past week. But the coach's Monday conference call became the latest example of his refusal to shed light on the bizarre timetable of Tebow's existence on his team.
Asked if he's been "forthcoming" in regard to why he's chosen not to use Tebow much this season, the coach responded: "I've been transparent, and all that stuff, without question. But I'm not going to give you a private conversation that I would have with a player. That's between him and I. And if he wants to share whatever the conversation is -- Tim or anybody else -- then that's up to him."
When the reporter tried to explain to Ryan that he hadn't answered the question, the coach snapped: "Well, I guess I'm missing the point. I think I'm about as open a coach. I try to provide everything I can to the media. I understand, I recognize you guys have a job to do, without question. And I try to provide a means for you guys to get your job [done].
"But the only thing I would say, is if I thought there was a competitive advantage to something, then I would obviously keep with that. I don't know what else to say. I don't try to hide things."
Ryan grew testy when told he is now viewed as someone who refuses to give straight answers. The claim caught Ryan off guard.
"Well, have I lied about anything?" Ryan said.
Time will soon tell.
Tebow's tenure with the Jets is likely to end this offseason. And there's little doubt those closed-door conversations between the Jets' front office and Tebow will surface in the days, weeks and months to come. And perhaps then, Jets fans will know whether to believe Ryan when he says: "I've been transparent."