Monday, August 24, 2009

Boasting Never Gets the Job Done in the NFL

The NFL is really not a league where you want to go around boasting about how good you are, especially when you don't have any kind of track record of being anywhere near better than average:
For a guy who still has not yet coached a regular-season NFL game, new Jets boss Rex Ryan has done more squawking than many pro football coaches do in their entire careers.

And as Ryan prepares to take his new team against his old one, Ryan is squawking again, calling Monday night's preseason contest against the Ravens (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN) a "special preseason game."

"Let's see if we match up with the elite teams in the league," he said Sunday, per Rich Cimini of the New York Daily News. "You're playing against a great football team, and they're playing against one that's going to be great in the New York Jets. I think that's going to be a great matchup."

Um, Rex? It's a preseason game. Which means it's not a game at all. It's glorified, televised practice with full-price tickets.

Many think that Ryan's bluster -- which should only get more interesting once the real games start -- is harmless. Others, however, view it as a potential problem.

"You're gonna tell me it's not detrimental to the league?" one source observed. "We don't want thugs, but we'll let a coach act like an idiot?"

Not every coach can be Jimmy Johnson, and have a reasonable mix of bluster and the wins to back it up, just as not every coach can be as reserved and staid as old Bud Grant was with the Minnesota Vikings. The overall health and history of the franchise matters--if you're a Cowboy, you can spread it on thick, even though your best days are long behind you.

This is more of a media thing, than anything, but it does go a long ways towards getting players to buy into your system. If the coach makes out like a fool, that damages his credibility in future discussions. You want a mix of emotion when a team actually wins, a mix of some passion from the sidelines, and some measure of humility when starting the season. Some of the best examples of this are Jeff Fisher and Tom Coughlin--two coaches who could probably give coach Ryan some pointers on the finer points of how to carry themselves.

You actually want to be a winner before you start telling everyone how great you are.


  1. Every time I see a picture of Rex, he has his mouth open. Let's hope his coaching talent is as big as his pie hole.

  2. Amen to that.

    Rex is going to do fine, he just needs to remember that pro football is a humble man's game in public. Boast all you want in private, coach.