"We're going to start with the injury report, obviously. Manning, Clark, Addai, Reggie Wayne, Freeney, Mathis, Brackett -- all those guys will not play. Oh, hold up. That was my wish list for Santa Claus."
He never ceased to entertain the masses. And he never refused to tone down the sense of swagger and grind he brought to the locker room. Imposing, loud, a jumble of baggy t-shirts and sweater vests, Rex Ashley Ryan stood on the Metlife Stadium sideline for six whole seasons. And now he's back.
Ryan's new team plays 355 miles northeast of his old one, in a frozen square of wind and slush. Orchard Park, New York is a superb location for Rex's Ground n' Pound and stuff-your-face attitude, but his new team is just 4-4 halfway through the season. The Buffalo Bills have had an interesting season thus far, shocking the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1 and falling just 8 points short of Ryan's nemesis--the New England Patriots--in Week 2. They've been a seesaw since the beginning, showcasing sparkling talent on both sides of the ball, but lacking in execution in vital moments.
Sounds a lot like those old Jets teams, right?
So before the NFL's first "Color Rush" matchup on Thursday night, let's reminisce a little about Ryan's days in North Jersey.
We all remember how he started. Ryan became the Jets' lead man in January of 2009, assuring promises of Super Bowl rings and a team with a new attitude. Ryan's first two seasons exuded with confidence, just like the Head Coach himself, as the Jets reached the AFC Championship Game in two straight seasons.
Jet fans will always remember a bunch of games from those first two years. In particular, 2009's Week 2 home win over New England, where beforehand Ryan had urged the Jets' faithful to show up in a sea of green and be as loud as possible.
The 2010 season was chock full of crunch time victories, too. In the Wild Card round of the Playoffs, Ryan finally beat Peyton Manning and the Colts on the road thanks to a gorgeous end-of-game drive by Mark Sanchez that resulted in a game winning Field Goal by Nick Folk.
However, the Jets' 2010-2011 Divisional Round win was certainly the most extraordinary. Rex and the Jets marched into Foxborough with a heavy chip on their shoulders, and Sanchez and co. brought the heat in the game of their lives to beat the Pats 28-21 in the Playoffs. New England was stunned, and Ryan finally had his dream win over Bill Belichick in the Postseason.
The remaining four seasons of Ryan's Jet career were chock full of promise, but New York would never return to the Playoffs. After last season's 4-12 finish, Ryan was fired, but was swooped up by New York's divisional foe in upstate New York.
After being hired by Buffalo, Rex made the same smash mouth sound bites that made him a star in North Jersey, praising the Bills' talent and promising his desire to bring the first Super Bowl ring to Orchard Park.
Even so, Ryan's 4-4 start probably isn't an enormous worry. Buffalo aren't quite at the level of the top NFL teams. They're certainly loaded with talent, but the Bills don't seem to be there yet. They're pass defense hasn't been incredible, and they've allowed 23 sacks in the season. And even though Tyrod Taylor has emerged as a quality NFL Quarterback, Buffalo still seems to be missing something.
Maybe it's a primetime win in East Rutherford.
In his first two seasons with New York, Ryan thrived on games like these. When everyone said it was the Jets' last chance, he refused to be counted out. And, even though the lead up to Thursday Night Football has been juiced with Rex's display of distraction to the media, it's hard to believe he won't have an extra pop in his step at Metlife Stadium.
It should be a blast. A smash and grab of red and green in a huge weeknight matchup. It'll be a heck of a ride, and you better believe Rex Ashley Ryan is excited for it.