Diner morning news: Rex Ryan’s best move
QUOTE: “Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus.” -- Martin Luther King Jr., “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution,” an address at the Episcopal National Cathedral, Washington D.C. (March 31, 1968)
After only three weeks of the NFL season, the Jets have become a great success story, in large part because of the work Rex Ryan has done rebuilding the morale of the team, adding new players, ramping up the defense and, most important, keeping some of former coach Eric “The Secret” Mangini’s staff. Do not minimize the last item. By keeping Mike Westoff, the special teams coach, the Jets kept one of the game’s best and kept continuity within the team. By keeping Brian Schottenheimer as offensive coordinator and Bill Callahan as the offensive line coach, they were able get the offense back to its real roots and add an inexperienced quarterback to the mix. Keeping these three coaches was critical.
When “The Secret” arrived in New York in 2006, he hired Schottenheimer to run the offense, and very quickly, Schottenheimer proved to be a talented young offensive mind. Schooled in the “Norv Turner system,” Schottenheimer was creative as a play designer and play caller. Chad Pennington played well that year, as did the players around him. Running back Leon Washington demonstrated he was an emerging player and led the team in rushing with 650 yards. His first year as offensive coordinator, Schottenheimer laid the groundwork for a bright future -- but all that changed when “The Secret” hired Brian Daboll away from the New England Patriots to be the Jets quarterback coach and give them more of that New England-style of offense.
This obsession with New England forced the Jets to change styles of offense, probably making Schottenheimer a very miserable coach. The next two years, the Jets weren’t nearly as productive, until Brett Favre arrived early last season. Some of their problems were their talent level, but most were from trying to comingle two systems. I don’t want to imply this was Daboll’s fault; rather, it was the fault of “The Secret’s” fixation with making the Jets just like the Patriots.
Now, Schottenheimer can get back to his basic beliefs and principles without obstructions from the head coach. Adding Callahan as the line coach in 2007 was a great move. Callahan is one of the best coaches in the NFL. He understands how to protect the passer each week with his schemes. The players love him, his work ethic is unmatched, and he can make the right adjustments during the game. His talents blend well with Schottenheimer, and they both are responsible for the success of quarterback Mark Sanchez.
Ryan has done many things well in his brief stint with the Jets, but the formation of his staff and his willingness to rehire these men was his best move.
The obsession continues…
From Todd Haley: “We’re in the process of shaping this team. It’s critical that we understand and all the players understand and everybody really understands this is the beginning stages of the process. One thing that’s going to be clear to the players is that there’s going to be changes here as we try to improve and get better each week. They can’t let it affect them in any way, shape or form other than to push them to be better each and every day they’re in here and each and every Sunday. We’ve been clear with the guys about that. That’s the way we’ll continue to operate.”
As many of you know, I love willingness to change the roster, to make moves until you find the right combination of players who can help a team win. I’m all about the “good to great” model. But where I have a problem is when a team takes too many players from its previous teams. Every time the Chiefs take an ex-Patriots player or even an ex-Cardinal, they show a lack of diversity in their personnel acumen. The locker room will get the feeling the team is only interested in adding more ex-Pats or ex-Cards — not in improving its talent base but improving its familiarity base. This can be very disruptive to a team, so the front office must guard against the temptation to bring in a familiar player as opposed to continue digging and finding the right player.
I call this my “Peter Frampton Theory.” Frampton had one great album back in the 1970s, “Frampton Comes Alive,” but that was all he had. It was all he knew, and most of all, it was all anyone expected from him. He never had another hit, never had another big seller, so he had to rely on that one album. One-team personnel men don’t work well. They need to broaden their scope.
You want to create a culture where the players are always asking, “Where did they get this guy from?” You want to show the players that you know talent as the general manager. You want them to respect your evaluations so that when changes are needed, they accept the soundness of your decisions. As much as the players are showcasing their talents to the staff, the staff is showcasing their talents to the players and the rest of the league.
So I say to Haley and the Chiefs, keep reshaping, but learn a new song.
I’m very happy for Packers cornerback Charles Woodson, who will be named NFC defensive player of the month today. Woodson has been spectacular and has been a great player for the Packers. He’s the best tackler in the NFL in the secondary, and his hands have always been incredible. Congratulations, Charles. You’ve gotten better with age.
Happy birthday, Mick. You can have your first drink — legally now.
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