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October 9, 2015

Could Rex Ryan Be the Next John Madden?

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 10th 2010 4:30PM
Rex Ryan, head coach of the New York JetsAnyone who follows the NFL or New York sports has probably heard Jets head coach Rex Ryan's shtick by now. He's blustery, boastful, and likes to use colorful language.

But now the rest of the country is seeing what the hubbub around Ryan has been about via the ever-interesting HBO series 'Hard Knocks,' which documented the Jets training camp this summer. Ryan's national profile has skyrocketed, leading Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News to already wonder if Ryan can be the plain-spoken heir apparent to John Madden in the broadcast booth.

It's an interesting thought, one that has some merit. But if Ryan were to make his way into the booth after his coaching career is over, he's going to have to make some changes in order to be successful.

Ryan would have to suppress his inner blowhard
. From the minute he took the Jets job in 2009, Ryan has said that his team had what it took to win the Super Bowl. Even though they were starting a rookie quarterback in Mark Sanchez and the team didn't start well, they came damn close, going all the way to the AFC Championship game.

That surprise ride that got the team so close to the Super Bowl didn't exactly humble Ryan's estimation of how far his team could go this year, as this infamous speech from 'Hard Knocks' illustrates (language is NSFW, by the way):

For Ryan to be successful as an analyst, he'd actually have to be careful to make sure he does actual game analysis between his more definitive statements. And he'd have to refrain from comparing every defense he analyzes to either the ones he had with the Jets or the superior units he had when he was the defensive coordinator of the Ravens.

He'll need to curb his language. Ryan has a blue-collar attitude that people love. But as the "Let's have a goddamn snack" video above shows, Ryan loves to drop f-bombs, and he does so with ease. That's great in a meeting during training camp, and it works very well on HBO, but it's obviously not going to work well on broadcast TV.

This one should be easy for Ryan to do; I can't imagine that Madden refrained from using salty language during this days coaching the Oakland Raiders, but there generally weren't cameras there to record those moments. Madden seemed to know what he needed to do to succeed on TV, and Ryan should be able to do the same.

He'll need to put his money where his mouth is. Like it or not, Ryan has to live down the legacy of his father, Buddy, who bragged nearly as much as Rex did when he was the head coach of the Eagles and the Cardinals during the '80s and '90s. And while the senior Ryan had some success as a head coach, especially in Philly, his teams never came close to the success he had when he was the ran the legendary defense of the 1985 Chicago Bears.

Rex Ryan hasn't even had that much success so far; he was a defensive line coach for the Ravens when they won the Super Bowl in 2000, but as a coordinator, the team only made it as far as the AFC Championship game.

One of the reasons why Madden gained so much respect so fast after he started in the broadcast booth wasn't just his folksy manner, artistry with the telestrator, and use of the word "boom!". It was also the fact that he won his division seven times and coached the Raiders to their first Super Bowl title. If Ryan pulls off a miracle and the Jets win a Super Bowl for the first time since the days of Joe Namath, he'll gain a level of respect that he doesn't have right now.


Of course, Ryan in the booth is a notion that's probably a few years off, given the fact that this is only Ryan's second year at the helm of the Jets. But since Madden retired after the 2008 season, there hasn't been a broadcaster who has filled the void he left.

Sure, there are forthright analysts out there, who aren't afraid to tell it like it is; Madden's replacement on NBC's 'Sunday Night Football,' Cris Collinsworth, comes to mind, as does Phil Simms at CBS. And there are analysts who bring humor and folksy charm to the broadcast, albeit on a grating scale (I'm looking at you, Tony Siragusa!).

But no one has been able to marry the two like Madden. That's why he was able to go from a Hall of Fame coaching career with the Oakland Raiders almost directly into being regarded as the top football analyst on TV and hold that position through almost three decades and four different networks, and why his 'Madden' video games are top sellers every year.

Will we be seeing EA Sports come out with 'Ryan '21' in ten years? You never know, but if Rex can make those adjustments above, he might be able to pull it off.

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Um...no. Madden was a successful coach (Ryan isn't) and likable. Ryan isn't. He only wants a g0dd@mn snack.

September 11 2010 at 2:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to YouFaceTheTick's comment

uhh, how is coach ryan not successful? he's won a superbowl and lead a team with a rookie qb to the AFC championship game. he's a great coach and VERY likable.

... you are a moron.

September 14 2010 at 3:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love Coach Ryan.

That was a great speech to his players, and his sideline comments are equally good.

September 10 2010 at 7:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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