There was more. Plank says of Buddy's scheme, "It starts with a common mind-set. And without that, the playbook the Ryan family has used for 30 years is irrelevant."
Scott concurs. "Attitude can be developed by scheme," he says. "Rex's scheme—with the blitzing and the attacking—lets you set the tone."
The Ravens did it with passion. "Coaches are mostly pains in the ass," says Rob Burnett, who was a nine-year veteran at defensive tackle when Rex arrived in Baltimore in '99. "Rex has a humanity to him that most coaches don't have. It's rare for guys to want to win for their coach in this league. But we would have jumped on a grenade for that guy."
In many ways Rex is Buddy Lite. Mike Nolan's promotion to coordinator in 2002 chapped him, but he worked relentlessly for Nolan and learned from him. "When a decision was made, and Rex disagreed, he would give it to you with both barrels," says Billick. "Then he would jump right on the company bandwagon." Rex will tell you in a heartbeat that he learned volumes about stunting from Marvin Lewis and even more about the 3--4 front and two-gapping from Nolan.
Still, Rex expected a head-coaching offer long before the Jets'. He even dropped weight, cut his hair tighter and got his teeth whitened after the 2006 season. No luck. "The frustration mounted," says his wife, Michelle. "It was visible at home. His work ethic never diminished, but away from the field his quick wit was gone. Instead of laughing with me and the boys, he was quiet and subdued. He was not the happy, charismatic man that I had known. It was like the joy of coaching was gone."
He interviewed with the Rams and the Jets on the same day in January and felt a fresh calm that comes with being ready. "The way I handled myself," says Ryan, "I knew I was going to get one of those jobs.
"This is my shot. We've got no excuses here. This team can win and win now. That's why I came here."
The joy of coaching is back. The pristine, green-and-white hallways of Jets Central are alive with the new coach's vibe. "You can feel the culture," says Scott.
There is a Ryan boy in town.
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