Glib and Glum

Eagles coach Andy Reid shows little emotion on the sideline, his usual demeanor. He coaches against the outspoken Rex Ryan of the Jets on Sunday.
Eagles coach Andy Reid shows little emotion on the sideline, his usual demeanor. He coaches against the outspoken Rex Ryan of the Jets on Sunday. (DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer)
Posted: December 15, 2011

Rex Ryan already had bragged about his Pro Bowl cornerback, joked about his brother, and laughed more often in a 14-minute conference call than Andy Reid might in a year of news conferences, when he was asked an odd question.

What similarities are there between Ryan, the coaching king of bold statements, and Reid, whose signature public pronouncement is "we'll just see here."

"Both of us are extremely handsome," Ryan quipped, pausing expertly for laughter. "I think that's the thing that really jumps out at you. They say it's a big man's game, and there you have it: two of the biggest coaches in the league going at it."

Aside from the sizable waistlines, it's difficult to imagine two more different coaches than Reid and Ryan, whose teams meet Sunday and enter the game with, appropriately enough, opposing records: 5-8 for the Eagles, 8-5 for the Jets.

Ryan, the stylistic heir to his iconic father Buddy, favors a "ground and pound" offense and attacking defense. Reid lives by the pass and scoring and has stuck to the same dry script for 13 years.

Ryan boasted that whichever receiver faces cornerback Darrelle Revis, "it'll be a long day for that individual." Reid said tight end Brent Celek, his leading receiver, has "done a nice job catching the football."

Ryan called Revis "the best corner in football; it's not even close." Reid said, "I have a couple of pretty good ones . . . so I'm fortunate."

Ryan once was portrayed as Han Solo on a Star Wars-themed tabloid cover. Try picturing Reid getting the same treatment.

"Rex and Andy are a little bit different," Eagles center Jason Kelce said.

As an organization, the Eagles match Reid's unwavering, at times stubborn style. The Jets reflect the brash, sometimes reckless Ryan.

His swagger, of course, is familiar to Philadelphia fans. The same bravado made his father a hero to many Eagles fans, while Reid is scorned by some for being too distant, even though the current coach has won far more than Ryan ever did.

"The fans really did identify with him," Ryan said of his father. "He was himself, and I think the fans really appreciated that."

(The appreciation was shown in an Eagles halftime tribute to Buddy Ryan earlier this year. Rex Ryan called it a "classy" move by owner Jeffrey Lurie.)

The Ryan family's unrestrained attitude makes for great quotes, but it can backfire. Reporters have lost count of how many times Ryan has promised a Jets Super Bowl without getting to the big game. And after Rex's similarly bold brother Rob tweaked the Eagles, his Dallas defense was scorched in Philadelphia.

"I'm not calling out the Eagles offense by any stretch the way my brother did," Ryan said, laughing again. "I think he probably regrets that."

The Eagles should expect some different wrinkles from the Jets. Like the twin brothers, their defenses are "fraternal, not identical," Ryan said.

Audacious. Reserved. Each coach has his own approach. But that might be where the commonality ends.

"You like to play for the coach that's himself. I don't think anybody likes to play for a coach that puts up a front," Kelce said. "Be you. I think players respect that."

Reid, Kelce said, "is himself. He's always the same guy; you know that's him."

Ryan agreed.

"He's going to be true to himself - that's the way he handles his press conferences and anything else, and you have to respect that," he said. "This guy's a tremendous coach, probably a Hall of Fame-type coach."

And, he added, one who can laugh away from the cameras.

"Anybody that has spent any time with Andy off the field knows this guy has a great sense of humor," Ryan said. "Doesn't take himself too serious, has a great time."

Reid was asked about that description, and, breaking from his evasions and stock answers, showed his lighter side.

"You guys can tell all of those things are true by these press conferences," Reid said, eliciting laughter.

But it was a fleeting glimpse. One reporter followed up by asking about the "handsome" description.

"Whatever floats," Reid said, back to business.

Do the coaches like each other?

"He's a good guy," Reid offered, his terse answer a signal to change the subject.

Back to Andy being Andy, like Rex being Rex.

Each has come under fire for his style. Each refuses to change.

"He's consistent," Ryan said. "That's the thing you've got to love about him - he has his own style. But I know there's different approaches."


Contact staff writer Jonathan Tamari at 215-854-5214, jtamari@phillynews.com, or @JonathanTamari on Twitter.

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