Rex Ryan's shtick, all season, has been as the fiery but lovable crazy-uncle figure to his team, the braying slob who can be the butt of the joke when you need him to be, and then also get in your face and scream when you need him to do that. This has led to a Jets team of average talent that, perhaps riding the vacillations of its coach, has alternately looked fantastic and dreadful this season. He's a high-drama guy. They're fun to watch. It's what coaches are supposed to do. And now Ryan isn't just pulling the shtick on his team: He's pulling it on you.
The Jets have stopped winning at home — for whatever reason — and with a vital game Sunday against Jacksonville on the slate, Ryan has said he's had enough of it. It's not the team: It's the fans. Get out there and start screaming more, ya jerks.
"I'm challenging our fans," Ryan said. "I know they're going to challenge me, and rightfully so, but it's my job to get this team ready to go. Be prideful. This is your football team and we can accomplish anything we set out to do. I think when we get that energy from our crowd, it might be the difference this week."
Ryan's argument is that the stadium was shaking earlier this season, when the Jets beat the Patriots, so, darn it, why can't it do that now? The answer to this is obvious — the Jets beat their hated rivals, and they've lost the last two; who screams when nothing exciting is happening, just to scream? Other than teenage girls, anyway? — and Ryan surely knows that. The world of a coach is to create an alternate reality where his charges respond to challenges and slights, imagined and otherwise. With football teams, it's locker-room material, a "they don't respect us" rallying cry. Now Ryan is doing it with fans: Bet you can't make as much noise as you used to. Go ahead ... PROVE ME WRONG.
We can't imagine how this would work — again, people cheer when they have something to cheer about — but Ryan's timing is impeccable. The Jets are favored over the Jaguars and desperately need a win. If they win, the crowd will be loud. If they don't, it won't be. This is, traditionally, how this works. Thanks for the speech, though, coach.