Rex and Rob Ryan sat down for a question-and-answer session with Sports Illustrated that was posted last Friday. I heard about various things they said but didn’t read the interview in its entirety until Monday because, well, I had more important things on my agenda over the weekend.
That’s not meant as an insult. My younger two boys had a full weekend of baseball, and my older two kids had their own busy schedules. On Sunday, I was covering the Buffalo Marathon. In between, I was catching up with other sports that were more compelling than the Brothers Ryan running their mouths in May about a season that starts in September.
Here are five takeaways after reading the interview with Monday Morning Quarterback, posted on SI.com, from start to finish:
• They’re entertaining. Say what you will about the Rex and Rob, but they know how to amuse mass audiences. They took jabs at one another at every opportunity, which happens all day, every day, in our house. If you’re having a few beers while stoking a backyard fire, they’re first on the list to call.
• Humility is not part of their vocabulary. No matter the results, neither can resist the urge to boast. Rex has not had a winning season since taking the Jets to the playoffs in 2010, going 34-46 over that span. In his 12 seasons as a coordinator, Rob’s defenses have been ranked 20th or worse in points and yards allowed eight times. So says Rob: “I am great.” I’d love to hear his definition of mediocre.
• Both took responsibility for failure, but only to a degree. Rex admitted he should have gone strictly with his defense in Buffalo rather than attempt to weave the previous system with his own. He also accepted blame for the “bully” nonsense after he was hired. Rob said he should have been more assertive when others in the Saints’ hierarchy insisted he change his defensive scheme. In other words, their failure was their fault but not entirely their fault. In fact, I agree with that assessment.
• If they’re going down, they’re going down swinging. Both know they’re in trouble if the Bills fail again this season. Rex may not survive the season if Buffalo gets off to a terrible start. Rex’s honeymoon in Buffalo ended after the loss to Jacksonville in London. Rob never had one. They’ll do everything in their power to save their jobs. There are no more excuses.
• If they’re going down, they’re going down together. Each trusts the other more than anyone outside of their family. They believe in themselves, which is important, but they’re also confident in one another. Is Rob here because he’s Rex’s brother? Definitely. But it’s more because he has faith in Rob’s coaching ability, not because they share DNA.
We’ll see what happens.
Speaking of results, Jordan Spieth has been the most maligned player on the PGA Tour this season after melting down in the Masters and whining about the “stress” he was forced to endure while standing over a golf ball.
Let the record show that Spieth has made the cut 10 times in 12 events this season, finished in the top 18 nine times, the top 5 five times, won two tournaments and was the runner-up in a major. By most measures, his season already has been a success.
Sunday, the 22-year-old earned his eighth career victory when he won at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas. Tiger Woods had only seven wins before his 23rd birthday. Spieth is ranked third in the world and third on the money list with more than $4 million in his pocket for this season.
If only Padraig Harrington could struggle to the same degree. The Irishman has played in the same number of events, has one top-18 finish, none in the top 5, zero wins and $425,000 in earnings. He has missed the cut three times in his last four events and is 129th on the money list.
Looking back, I was wrong when agreeing with NBA voters who made Stephen Curry a unanimous choice for MVP. You take Curry away from the Warriors, and Golden State is still a very good team. You take LeBron James away from the Cavs and, well, they’re the Cavs without LeBron James.
James has reached the NBA Finals six straight times with Miami and Cleveland. He would have won the first five if he had a true point guard in Miami and a true big man in Cleveland. In terms of defense and rebounding, Curry and James don’t belong in the same sentence.
Keep this in mind during the Stanley Cup final:
Throughout his 18-year career, Joe Thornton averaged 22.6 goals for every 82 games played during the regular season but 14.7 goals for every 82 playoff games. He’s far more likely to pass in the postseason. He averaged 56 assists for every 82 regular-season games but 64.5 assists come playoff time.
Thornton, 36, was one of the NHL’s best players when the Bruins traded him to San Jose in 2005-06 for Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau. The key to the deal for Boston was not the players coming back but cap space created. Still, teams don’t trade a dominant player unless they know they can’t win with him.
His departure opened up money for Zdeno Chara. The Bruins began building around him, developed key players such as Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic, traded for Nathan Horton, Dennis Wideman and Gregory Campbell and acquired veteran leader Mark Recchi.
In a five-year stretch beginning in 2008-09, the Bruins twice lost in the conference final, won the Stanley Cup and lost the Cup. Thornton played on good teams but never reached the Cup final until his teammates led him this season. He’s a terrific player, but I never viewed him like the gamers the Bruins grabbed after trading him.
Thornton’s stats suggest he’s hesitant to shoot and quick to pass in the playoffs. To me, he always lacked the oomph to make a difference. It’s one reason I picked the Penguins to beat the Sharks in six games.