Rex Ryan sounded like a man who got a stay of execution during the long-delayed Jets postseason press conference that finally happened on Tuesday morning at the team's headquarters.
Ryan admitted he was worried about getting fired after the end of a 6-10 season and said that he felt the same way he did when he got the job in 2009, specifically that he sees this as the same challenge he undertook when he first became the Jets' coach.
He sounded almost exactly the same as he did on that January day when we were first introduced to the bluster of Ryan, although he stopped short of any Super Bowl projections.
"We are gonna be a dangerous football team. I can promise you that. You're not gonna want to face the New York Jets."
A great quote, as always, but there wasn't much in the way of specifics about how the Jets will be the "aggressive, attack-style" football team he wants them to be. Ryan admitted that he's failed to install that mentality across the entire football team, particularly on offense where he admits he may have bought into the "ground and pound" a bit too much, and he announced a couple of coaching changes that are designed to help install it.
Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, who Ryan once called a mirror image of himself, was fired on Monday night and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is out of contract without much chance of returning (defensive backs coach Dennis Thurman sounds like the next coordinator), leaving the Jets with a chance to write on a blank canvas. They'll need to hire a general manager to help script things, a job search that neither Ryan nor Woody Johnson would address specifically on Tuesday beyond confirming that keeping Ryan for 2013 is a condition of getting the job.
Beyond 2013 is anybody's guess, although it's not exactly sturdy ground for the coach despite the effusive praise heaped on Ryan by Johnson during the press conference. It's a necessary statement for Johnson to make to avoid perceptions of a lame duck coach, but it won't mean a thing if the Jets crash and burn again next year.
They also wouldn't address the future of Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow or any other player until they have a G.M. and coordinators, which makes it hard to know how much of a chance they'll have to implement the kind of attacking offense that Ryan said he wants. Ryan did say Sanchez' salary won't keep him in the starting job, although there was no word about whether it guaranteed him a spot on the roster.
Time and again, Ryan and Johnson kept coming back to the need to have coordinators and a general manager before there could be substantive discussions about the future of the roster. It's an evasive answer, but pretty much the only one that the Jets can give at this point in time since they don't have anyone in charge of personnel.
It's also the same answer they would have given last week, which makes it hard to understand why they bothered delaying the press conference in the first place. Johnson apologized for that and admitted he made a mistake by waiting, although the end result leaves the Jets in exactly the same place.
That's not satisfying, but what would be satisfying after this season? Words, even ones that sound good, aren't going to fix anything with the Jets today and they wouldn't have fixed anything last week either.
Some of the words today were good, some reinforced notions of the muddled nature of things around the organization and, thankfully, few of them were spent on tattoos. All of them will be meaningless in the final reckoning.
It's going to come down to actions and putting a better product on the field. Tuesday gave us no indication of the Jets' ability to do that.