Rex Ryan will report to camp next week at Cortland looking decidedly different than he did the last time he was there. Two years removed from the Jets’ memorable “Hard Knocks” summer at Cortland, where the overweight coach once told his players, “Let’s go and eat a (GD) snack” at the end of a rousing speech, Ryan is now a shell of his former self.
He said in a series of interviews today that he has lost over 100 pounds since undergoing Lap-Band surgery in March, 2010. Ryan had already begun to lose some weight before Hard Knocks, but that was only the beginning.
Ryan said he decided to get the surgery after weighing in at 348 in January, 2010.
“My big thing is I want to be the Rex Ryan that wins,” he said. “I did this for health reasons. I’m ready to attack this season.”
Ryan reiterated that Mark Sanchez is his starter and Tim Tebow is the backup, but he expressed optimism that Tebow can be a major weapon in his new role.
“I think the first two years we had much success when we had a guy named Brad Smith,” Rex said of the former Missouri quarterback, who joined Buffalo last season as a free agent. “And the guy who brought the Wildcat to the NFL, Tony Sparano, is our offensive coordinator. I’ve been a big believer in the difficulty of defending against it. It makes you play 11-on-11. And the best Wildcat quarterback in the league is Tim Tebow. All I’ll say about Tim is that he’s an outstanding football player.”
Asked if Ryan will be under pressure to use Tebow more once the season starts, Ryan said no.
“My job is to win games,” he said. “The pressure is that I just want to win. That’s what our fans want more than anything else. That’s my charge.”
In a conference call later in the day with a handful of beat reporters, Ryan said he’s anxious to begin the season. The Jets, who had gotten to the AFC Championship Game in Ryan’s first two seasons, finished 8-8 last year and did not make the playoffs after losing three straight to end the season.
“I think I've looked forward to this season probably more than any season I ever have in my life,” Ryan said. “I have something to prove, and shoot, I'm excited about it. To quote Tim Tebow, 'I'm excited about it.’”
He’s also excited about being a much healthier person going into training camp.
“I don't know what I am, but certainly I don’t think I'm in the morbidly obese category anymore," Ryan said. “I make a lot of money doing something I love, I know how fortunate I am, but without your health, what do you really have? I want to see my kids grow, I want to see their kids grow up, and all that that was important to me.”