ESPN NFL analyst Damien Woody joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday to discuss the Patriots’ upcoming game with the rival Jets. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
With the Jets sitting in the basement of the AFC East and near the bottom of the entire NFL standings, some expect Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium to be a blowout. Woody, though, said New York will come to play.
“They’re going to bust their butts for Rex [Ryan],” Woody said of the Jets. “Just my time playing under Rex Ryan, the one great quality that Rex has is that he knows how to rally the troops. He just has an uncanny ability to know the pulse of the team and guys rally around that. Rex makes himself feel like he’s just one of the guys, he doesn’t make himself feel like, ‘Well, I’m the head coach and you’re the player.’ He kind of takes himself to the player’s level, and the players really respect that. People [have] got to expect the Jets to really bring it into the tank in this game.”
It has been reported throughout the season that Ryan will be fired after the season. His next potential job, however, has been up for debate. Another head coaching job and television gigs have been on the list of things Ryan could do if he is indeed axed by the Jets front office.
Said Woody: “I think the worst thing he can do is go somewhere and be a defensive coordinator because isn’t that feeding in to what everybody already perceives him to be? In my opinion, if Rex were to get fired, he’d be better to just go on TV, kind of put that big personality out there on TV for everybody to see, and then if I were him, I would go around all across the country, especially in the college game and study offense. … He’ll get another shot again, but if he can improve in that aspect of his repertoire, Rex can be a heck of a coach.”
In Ryan’s first two years with the Jets, New York reached the AFC championship game both times. Yet after those seasons, the Jets have failed to make the playoffs each season.
“I think the talent eroded around Rex and the team,” Woody said. “When the Jets went to back-to-back AFC championship games, we arguably had the best offensive line in football. You had great, stable running backs. Mark Sanchez was a young guy but he wasn’t asked to do much. We had Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards. And the defense was top notch. When you have all of those things working for you, you can do some things. But as the years went on, the talent level just steadily eroded. When you don’t have the talent to go with the schemes, it’s not going to work.”
Woody played for both Ryan and Bill Belichick. When he went to the Jets, he said he still had a high level of admiration for what the Patriots did on a weekly basis.
Said Woody: “I had even more respect for how the Patriots went about their business. When you’re on the other side, you kind of talk to everyone about, ‘What’s the mentality over there?’ The one thing that I always said is the Patriots aren’t going to beat themselves. Our preparation has to be top notch, especially situationally — that’s where [the Patriots] beat you every week is just situation football. Certain plays in the game, they make, you don’t make and they just go on and win the game. Those are the things that’s really fun when you’re on the dark side.”
Woody played with Darrelle Revis when the two were donning the green and white in New York. The former offensive lineman said Revis was a great person to play with and a joy to watch on the field.
“I love Revis, loved him to death,” Woody said. “I always tell people he’s a great guy. As fun as he is to watch on game day, he was even better in practice. That to me, that goes to show you how great of a player he is. He practices just as hard and maybe even harder in practice than he does in a game. That’s why he’s so good at his craft because he really works at it in practice and he hates to lose. That’s a guy you can go to battle with anytime.”