Rex Ryan ready for a fresh start, says 'We are going to be a dangerous football team'
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- It was vintage Rex Ryan.
Dressed in a crisp white button-down and sporting a two-toned green tie, the Jets coach entered the packed news conference room Tuesday as if he were a new man.
The same passion he used to usher in a new culture for the franchise was evident as he addressed the media for the first time in nine days. And the bravado that had been glaringly absent during a 6-10 season soon bubbled to the surface.
"We're going to be the team that you don't want to play," Ryan said. "We are going to be a dangerous football team. We're going to attack you from the minute that whistle blows. We're going to attack you on offense, defense and special teams.
"That's what I have to give the fans," added the coach, who was given a new lease on life when owner Woody Johnson chose to keep him and fire general manager Mike Tannenbaum last week. "That's my job, my responsibility. Understand it, that's exactly what we're going to give them this season and beyond."
Ryan offered those assurances despite the franchise being in flux. A new general manager has yet to be hired and the team must find offensive and defensive coordinators after announcing Tony Sparano and Mike Pettine won't return.
And, of course, there's the issue of who will lead Ryan's new "attack-style" offense.
But both he and Johnson deflected questions about the status of Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow. Sanchez is due a guaranteed $8.25 million next season, but Ryan said finances won't dictate who will be the starting quarterback. He confirmed there will be a QB competition this offseason, but when pressed for specifics on Sanchez and Tebow (who is under contract until 2014), both Ryan and Johnson said they'll wait on those decisions until after a new GM and offensive coordinator are in place.
It was assumed Ryan would be on the hot seat next season with a new GM coming in. But Johnson said there is "no mandate" that his coach, who has two years left on his contract, has to make the playoffs to ensure his job security.
Said Johnson: "I have ultimate confidence in Rex as a head coach, as a leader, as a motivator, as a play caller."
The owner also said keeping Ryan was a stipulation in his GM evaluation process -- but it hasn't been a deal breaker.
Though he wouldn't address specific candidates, Johnson said he's looking for someone who can "guide us to the next level of success."
The talent pool is dwindling. Former Falcons director of player personnel Dave Caldwell flew in for his second interview with Johnson, but by the afternoon, his agent confirmed via Twitter that Caldwell agreed in principle to be the Jaguars' next GM. And with Packers executive John Dorsey expected to be named the Chiefs new GM, the Jets are down to 49ers' director of player personnel Tom Gamble, Giants' director of college scouting Marc Ross and in-house assistant GM Scott Cohen. Or, the search can widen.
Despite the uncertainty that hangs over the franchise, Johnson maintained the organization is focused on fielding a winning team. "I can guarantee that," he said. "There are some things we can do with the [salary] cap . . . so I think the flexibility for the general manager is great. You can have my assurance for the fans."
Then, Johnson stole a line from his former GM and said, "As Mike used to say: 'No stone will be left unturned.' "