Marcus Hayes: Eagles' Reid, Jets' Ryan tons of fun in their own way

Rex Ryan: 'Anybody who has spent any time with Andy off the field knows that this guy really has a great sense of humor.'
Rex Ryan: 'Anybody who has spent any time with Andy off the field knows that this guy really has a great sense of humor.' (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Posted: December 15, 2011

ONE SAYS, "Poe-tay-toe."

The other says, "Julienned tubers lightly sautéed in Irish butter, finished with finely ground sea salt."

On Sunday, Andy Reid, the worst interviewee in the history of sports, will lead his Eagles against the Jets and Rex Ryan, the funniest and cleverest jock boss ever.

Where Reid recites tired mantras about improving and assigns blame to himself for everything except the Occupy movement, Ryan generally answers questions frankly; sometimes with arrogance, sometimes with self-deprecating humor.

Take yesterday, for instance.

Asked about the coaches' similarities, Ryan, hefty and rather plain, like Reid, made the most of the moment.

"I think both of us are extremely handsome. That's the thing that really jumps out at you," Ryan riffed. "They say it's a big man's game, so there you have it. Two of the biggest coaches in the league going at it."

As usual, Ryan circled back with an honest assessment:

"I respect the heck out of Andy. He's a tremendous coach, probably a Hall of Fame-type coach . . . His resume is as impressive as anybody's. I know he doesn't have the big win yet, but he has his team in the mix every year."

Ryan clearly understands that, as a head coach, he represents the organization when he speaks. As such, he often is clear and inclusive, as was his father, Buddy, an iconic coach whose legacy with the Eagles from 1986-90 remains incandescent.

Reid, even after 13 years, remains dismissive, to the frustration of the millions of Eagles fans. Ryan understands Reid's strategy, but insists there is more to Big Red than putting his players and coaches in better positions.

"Anybody who has spent any time with Andy off the field knows that this guy really has a great sense of humor. Doesn't take himself too seriously. Has a great time. He's smart. He's really fun to be around," Ryan said.

Now, wipe up the milk you just snorted through your nose.

Ryan is right.

Reid has a brilliant football mind. He likes to goof off. He can be downright mischievous, in a twinkle-in-the-eye sort of way.

Until a recording device is turned on.

Asked what he thought of Ryan's glowing assessment of Reid's personality, Reid managed the moment the way he manages the clock. Badly.

"You guys can tell all those things are true," Reid grumbled.

And, the shared good looks?

"Whatever floats."

Asked about Ryan's obvious affinity for Reid, Reid offered, "He's a good guy."

Sigh.

No one alive is better suited to compare Reid and Ryan than Mike Quick.

Quick played receiver for every one of Buddy Ryan's teams when Buddy was head coach of the Eagles. Back then, Rex and twin brother Rob, now the defensive coordinator in Dallas, were finishing their college playing careers.

Quick also has been the radio analyst since 1998, the year before Reid arrived in Philadelphia.

"You get a completely different person," Quick said of Reid. "You get a lot of his wit. You get a completely different personality. He'll explain a lot of things to you. He just won't do that in a room full of media."

Rex Ryan has no issues with that; then again, consider the bloodlines.

"To me, it's like comparing Andy Reid to Buddy Ryan," Quick said. "Rex is the same guy. The way he treats his players. He likes to see a good fight on his squad; he thinks it helps to bond guys. He'll get in front of the media and he'll come out with a lot of brash statements, what a lot of people would consider bragging."

Rex watched, and learned.

"The fans really did identify with him," Rex said of Buddy. "He was himself. I think the fans really appreciated that."

Or, the anti-Andy. Just like Rex.

Asked how he would use star cornerback Darrelle Revis on Sunday evening, Rex Ryan couldn't help but betray himself.

He will put Revis in man-to-man coverage on the Eagles' best; right now, with Jeremy Maclin hurt, that means DeSean Jackson. Occasionally, he will drop Revis into zone coverage and bait the Birds into throwing Revis' way.

"He is the best corner in football. It's not even close," Ryan said. "The way we play him, it's unlike anything that happened in the history of the league."

Not that Rex is doing what Rob unwisely did.

Famously, before the season began, Rob Ryan sneered at the Eagles' big-money acquisitions, calling it the "all-hype team," saying the Cowboys would "beat their ass," jousting with DeSean Jackson.

The Eagles then destroyed the Cowboys, 34-7.

"I'm not calling out the Eagles' offense, the way my brother did," Rex said. "I think he regrets that."

Even when discussing serious issues, Rex Ryan cannot divorce himself from humor. He is insistent that, while his defensive philosophy might be similar to Rob's, each is its own animal.

"Our defenses are fraternal, not identical," Rex said. "Just like we are."

One is an offensive savant wedded to ingenious devices culled from several philosophies. The other is a defensive wizard who helped build the Ravens into a power and has done the same for the Jets.

One is a tight-lipped Mormon who lives a hermit-like life away from the field.

The other is a foul-mouthed showman given to very, very public displays of affection.

Really, can you imagine Andy Reid nibbling his wife's toes in a public park? Would you want to?

Oh, well.

Toe-may-toe.

Toe-mah-toe.


Send email to hayesm@phillynews.com

 

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