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Former Jets HC Rex Ryan knows why Urban Meyer failed in the NFL

Urban Meyer, Mike Tannenbaum, Rex Ryan, Woody Johnson
Urban Meyer, Mike Tannenbaum, Rex Ryan, Woody Johnson, New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

Former New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan recently joined Mike Tannenbaum to discuss why Urban Meyer failed as the Jacksonville Jaguars head coach.

Every New York Jets fan and their grandmother misses the Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum-led teams of a decade ago. Aside from a sole outlier, the 2015 season, the Rex-Mikey T. combo represents the last time Gang Green was an NFL contender.

These days, both Tannenbaum and Ryan can be found as active members of the sports media landscape. Tannenbaum, in particular, now has his own NFL media outlet, The 33rd Team.

On Wednesday, Tannenbaum had Ryan on as a guest to his radio show on Sirius XM, which the former hosts alongside sportscaster Jade McCarthy.

Tannenbaum asked Ryan why he thinks a lot of college coaches don’t work out in the NFL, most recently Urban Meyer.

“I always refer to it as the ‘men’s league’ because it really is. Everything about the game is different,” Ryan said. “Obviously, you’re motivating young men when you’re in college … These are grown men. This is what they do for a living. In a lot of the coaches’ cases, they don’t understand the grind. They think they know.”

According to Ryan, Meyer was a textbook example of this.

“I remember I talked to Urban Meyer; I gave him a call [when he first got the Jacksonville Jaguars job]… I could tell right then, this man is not listening. He’s hearing me, but he’s not listening.”

Ryan went on, “He was telling me about recruiting, like ‘this is gonna be easy.’ I told him, ‘recruiting’s a walk in the park; I’m talking about grinding because your job as a professional coach is to provide every opportunity for your players to be able to succeed.’”

For the former Jets coach, grinding is everything.

“That means sleeping in the office three days a week—whatever it takes. You’re trying to find an edge for your players. That’s what it’s about, (and) that’s what they don’t understand. And in the NFL you need a personal relationship with every single player, I feel.”

When McCarthy asked Ryan to speak on the relationship he and Tannenbaum had during their time together, Ryan had only great things to say.

“When you’ve got the right guy with you, I can’t tell you how great it is,” he said. “As a general manager, they’re usually parked in their office and you’re parked in your office, but we were together daily. The same kind of passion I had as a coach, Mike T. had as a general manager. … Quite honestly, when Mike left the building with the Jets, I never had that same relationship with the other two GMs I had.”

It’s clear that Tannenbaum too enjoyed his time with the Jets alongside Ryan.

McCarthy asked Ryan for his favorite Tannenbaum story, which he elected not to share. Tannenbaum, however, described the story he thought Ryan was going to tell.

“We were up in Cortland, it was during training camp in Hard Knocks,” recounted Tannenbaum. “It was me and one of my buddies against Rex and one of his buddies. We were having a punt-catching competition. And yours truly, at one point, despite catching the ball, I fell, and all I kept hearing was Rex’s voice ‘did you get that on tape? Did you get that on tape?’… The crew loved Rex, and whatever Rex said went, so of course, what made the Hard Knocks show was me falling on my ass on national TV.”

Maybe if the New York Jets are featured on Hard Knocks again soon, audiences will be treated to a similar clip of Joe Douglas.

Then again, the organization is simply looking to turn this ship around at the moment.

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