Upon receiving Rex Ryan’s new book, “Play Like You Mean It: Passion, Laughs, and Leadership in the The World’s Most Beautiful Game”, I was somewhat apprehensive about taking the time to read it. Part of me was annoyed that the book was written so early in Ryan’s tenure as the New York Jets head coach. Another part of me was curious to see if the book would offer any behind the scenes information that is not usually shared in the media.
Well after completing the book I can honestly tell you that I think it is a must read for Jets fans. “Play Like You Mean It” offers a tremendous amount of insight on not only the Jets last two seasons, but Rex Ryan’s life and career as well. Rex covers everything from his upbringing, to his battles with dyslexia, to the off the field issues that the Jets endured. Ryan provides a candid perspective on his team and his players, while breaking down the highs and lows of the last two seasons.
Here are some excerpts from the book that I found quite interesting:
On dealing with dyslexia: “Let me give you an example of how I dealt with dyslexia without even knowing it. Somewhere along the line, I figured out that I could read more effectively if things were printed on colored paper. I don’t know where or how I figured that out, but it’s true. So I developed a color-coding system for how to organize plays I wanted to call. I might have some on blue paper, some on green, some on yellow, whatever worked. If you’d ever see my call sheet for a game it looks like a freakin’ rainbow. “
On changing the culture with the Jets: “The head coach’s office in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center has this floor to ceiling window that looks out over the rest of the offices and cubicles. But when I arrived, the windows were all painted over. I believe the people working there, the assistant coaches, the players, everybody should be able to look in and see the head coach; but for whatever reason, Mangini had them covered. I don’t know exactly why because I never asked him. I want my players and coaches to know they are welcome to come up to me at anytime. I want them to see me and feel comfortable. Not only is the door open, the windows are open. I’m an open book for those guys.”
On changing the Jets culture: “I had hired Kerry Locklin, a guy I knew from my college days, to be our defensive line coach. The problem was that the guy was a negative thinker, and when our situation started to go south for a stretch, it just got worse and worse. Eventually it got to the point that I couldn’t take it anymore. I never want to see negative things associated with us, talking negatively about about a teammate or any of that junk. Anybody who was considered to be a negative guy- players, coaches, anybody- I said we were going to get rid of. I didn’t care whether they could help us or not- they were not going to be leading my team. No way in hell. I don’t want anybody negative around me.”
On Braylon Edwards: ” Each Monday we have a ‘Play like a Jet’ film showing highlights of players who play like a Jet. And Edwards was highlighted nearly every week. He blocked, he knocked defenders on their ass 20 yards downfield, he made great catches. I told him heading into the 2010 season that I wanted him to be the best receiver in football. He looked at me like ‘What the —?’ I told him he had more ability than any other receiver in the league. And the very next day in practice, he went out there and caught balls off the heads of defenders and did some of the damndest things I have ever seen from a receiver. I know it can happen and believe it can happen. Sometimes if you say it enough, with conviction, they start believing it.”
On the loss to the Colts in the AFC Championship Game: “I knew we were done at halftime. That might come as a shock, but I knew we were in serious trouble. When cornerback Donald Strickland was injured, I was like ‘Oh boy.’ I told the coaches ‘Guys were are in —– trouble.’ We all knew it, because there was no magical ‘We can do this’ halftime speech. We knew that Manning knew it. We were in trouble.”
On the third down play that iced the game for the Pittsburgh Steelers: “Of course, Roethlisberger did hit that huge pass on third down that allowed them to run out the clock on us. Funny thing is, we had a guy come off coverage and let that happen. Ben couldn’t have found black in a field of white mice at that time. Again, I was thinking about blitzing, but then I thought no. They came out in five wide and he wanted to throw it to the open side. Sure as —-, he threw it to the open side, and we should have had two guys there, but one guy came off coverage. If he stays in coverage, it’s either intercepted or Ben has to throw it away. “
As I mentioned earlier, I think that “Play Like You Mean It” is a good read for the fans of Gang Green. Hopefully the next book written by coach Ryan will detail a Jets championship season.