Internal turbulence hampers Jets

by on
in Leaders & Managers,People Management

As the New York Jets’ head coach in the 2011 season, Rex Ryan faced a bruising challenge. With a background as a defensive specialist, he lacked the same familiarity running an offense. As a result, he delegated—a bit too much.

Ryan, 51, enjoyed devising ingenious schemes to help his football team’s defense stop opposing offenses from scoring points. He succeeded throughout the season.

But the team posted an 8-8 record, well below Ryan’s expectations. What went wrong?

Because Ryan knew he didn’t understand how to manage the offense as well as he mastered defensive strategies, he largely allowed Brian Schottenheimer to run the offense. This became a problem as the two groups of teammates—offense and defense—failed to gel as a unit.

As the season unfolded, the adversarial attitude between the offense and defense intensified. They competed with each other viciously, almost like they were two separate teams vying to vanquish each other. This internal strife left the Jets less able to pull together every week to beat opponents.

Even in practice sessions, Ryan fostered a sense of competition between offense and defense. They operated like two hostile rivals trying to make the other side look bad.

The positional coaches under Ryan en­­gaged in rivalries as well. They viewed their job as sharpening the performance of their own subset of players, often at the expense of the Jets as a whole.

At many points during the season, Ryan could have asserted himself more forcefully and demanded that everyone work collaboratively. But he stepped back and permitted silos to form, making it tougher for players to look beyond their narrow perspective.

— Adapted from Collision Low Crossers, Nicholas Dawidoff, Little, Brown & Co..

Leave a Comment