Say what you want about Rex Ryan, at least he is consistent.
The Head Coach of the New York Jets has shown his usual amount of bravado this offseason as he looks to rebound from a disappointing 6-10 season that almost cost Ryan his job.
If he's feeling the pressure, he certainly isn't showing it.
In truth, if there isn't a dramatic turnaround, Ryan will be dismissed. He was fortunate to keep his job at the end of last season, especially when you consider the firings the Jets made all around the brash coach.
They basically cleaned house, making everyone but Ryan the scapegoat for the Jets failures. Reports suggest that Ryan had talked his way out of his removal, using his two AFC Championship game appearances when he was first hired as Jets coach as an example of what could be achieved with him at the helm.
Ryan recently said after the Jets first set of OTA's: "I'm a hell of a lot better football coach than I'm given credit for".
Recent form suggests otherwise.
The ever-critical New York media don't hold out much hope of a turnaround in fortune. They are already speculating who will be the Jets Head Coach in 2014, hardly a glowing sense of optimism for the season ahead.
With good reason. The Jets offseason couldn't have been more underwhelming.
We have come to expect controversy and surprises surrounding the Jets during the Spring months and this year didn't disappoint. The most shocking move was undoubtedly the Darrelle Revis trade, seemingly against the wishes of Ryan. Revis is widely regarded as the best cover corner in the entire NFL, but he's coming off an ACL injury and was seeking an improved deal. New General Manager John Idzik refused to meet Revis' demands, subsequently trading him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the 13th pick in the 2013 Draft and a conditional 3rd or 4th round pick in 2014.
Revis immediately signed a $96 million deal with the Bucs and looks set to be ready for Week 1 of the regular season, ironically against the Jets on September 8th. While Ryan hasn't said anything publicly, he is rumoured to be livid at the loss of his most prized possession. The normally outspoken Coach has been noticeably quiet on the matter, probably realising that it isn't wise to upset the apple cart when your job is already hanging by a thread.
While Ryan will talk up their chances of returning to the Playoffs this year, this is an extremely poor Jets roster that has virtually no chance of reaching the postseason. Ageing stars like Bart Scott have been released to trim the wage bill which was obscene for the production they were getting. They lost key players in free agency, especially on offense, where Tight End Dustin Keller left for division rivals Miami and Running Back Shonn Greene left for Tennessee. With beleaguered Quarterback Mark Sanchez already struggling for targets, losing Keller was a crippling blow.
Ryan's faith in Sanchez is admirable, but appears to be ill-advised. His confidence appears to be completely gone, his 66.9 rating last season among the worst in the entire league. His play at times was comical, clueless and always inept. You could argue he didn't have the talent around him, but when the Jets gave up the Earth to move up the 2009 NFL Draft to acquire Sanchez, they weren't expecting it to turn out like this.
The Jets drafted West Virginia Quarterback Geno Smith in the Second Round of this years Draft (39th overall), which seems to suggest there is a contingency plan in place should Sanchez fail again. There are even some that are suggesting Smith could surpass Sanchez atop the depth chart if he has a strong showing in training camp. The Jets are hoping that the extra pressure will improve Sanchez's performance and preparation heading into the season. There is a feeling among some in the Jets organisation that Sanchez hasn't been fully committed to his profession and has taken things for granted, the arrival of Smith should change that.
There's no doubt Ryan is steadfast in his commitment to Sanchez, with the coach freely criticising receivers instead of his signal caller. The Jets have done a poor job surrounding Sanchez with talent during his tenor and that appears to be the case this season. The most notable thing about the Jets OTA's so far has been the poor standard of play from their receivers, who have all dropped too many passes to count. Santonio Holmes appears to be the only reliable target, providing his can avoid the niggling injuries that bothered him for most of last season. Second-year receiver Stephen Hill is expected to make significant progress, but you would have to think Sanchez would need more than the Jets have provided him.
Kellen Winslow was recently signed after impressing during a tryout and he could be a ready-made replacement for Keller, if he reverts to type after a year of anonymity. Winslow was considered as one of the best Tight End's in the league whilst with the Buccaneers, but his career has de-railed rapidly since then. It is a sign of the Jets desperation that they are willing to take a gamble on a player who only played one game in 2012.
Their struggles on offense have been there for all to see during the last two seasons. Ryan's saving grace has always been his intimidating defense, something he promises to get back to this season. Using complex blitz packages has been a feature of Ryan's defensive schemes over the years, which makes it even more surprising that the Jets amassed just 30 sacks in 2012, 25th in the NFL. The Jets are lacking a supreme pass rusher again this term so Ryan will need to call upon all of his experience to come up with plays that give his under performing rushers the best chance to apply pressure in the backfield. Big things are expected of Quinton Coples, who is expected to make the move to Defensive End and could be one of the surprises in the Jets squad.
The secondary have suffered two significant losses and look like they could struggle. Of course Revis' loss is telling but Safety LaRon Landry has also departed, leaving for the Indianapolis Colts. The Jets will be hoping that Kyle Wilson is ready to slot into the starting lineup at Corner after a couple of seasons being the nickel back in the Jets system. They also drafted Dee Milliner with the 9th overall pick and he well be fast-tracked in the hope he can one day become the replacement for Revis. In the meantime, the ever confident Antonio Cromartie will be trusted to provide the man-coverage that left the Jets when Revis departed. On his day, there's no doubt he is capable, but an All-Pro talent he is not and could be exploited at times this season, which will be another headache for Ryan.
Despite his comments to the contrary, Ryan cannot have been happy with the way the Draft transpired. Their main targets, LSU Defensive End Barkevious Mingo and West Virginia Wide Receiver Tavon Austin, were both surprisingly gone before the Jets picked at number 9. They were obviously frustrated, yet they still took the best Cornerback in the draft with the 9th pick in Milliner, who has the potential to be a solid player in the league for years to come. The pick they obtained from the Bucs was again used to strengthen the defense, with Missouri Tackle Sheldon Richardson taken ahead of more touted prospects Shariff Floyd and Star Lotulelei. Whether Ryan has pulled a masterstroke or passed on two better players remains to be seen. He did get a steal in the second round with the best Quarterback prospect in the draft, so it wasn't all doom and gloom for the Jets draft room. Ryan will have been hoping for Mingo and Austin in an ideal World, but the consolation prizes should make an immediate impression.
We haven't even touched on the Tim Tebow debacle, which was a huge embarrassment for the entire organisation, purely because Ryan had little involvement in that situation. He just had to manage the media-circus that submerged his team. Ryan is never shy when it comes to putting his views across via the Media, and his bullish attitude regarding his teams chances has returned in recent weeks following a humbling period at the end of last season.
While confidence surrounding your team is to be expected, if Ryan believes he is in-charge of a team capable of winning the AFC then he is sadly mistaken. With the moves the Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills have made in the offseason, the AFC East is now as competitive as it has been for years. You could argue the Jets are favourites to finish bottom of the division, something that would almost certainly see Ryan's days in New York come to an end.
So, the odds are stacked against him, not for the first time in his career. It's probably just how he likes it, back against the wall and telling everyone who'll listen just how good his team is.
This time, his livelihood depends on it.
Dean Jones: Follow me on Twitter @DeanJones_