Rex: We're a better team if I'm running the D

With former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine leaving New York for Buffalo this offseason, Gang Green's head coach is relishing his opportunity to take over the defensive play calling once again.

When Rex Ryan took over the New York Jets in 2009, he inherited a defense that ranked 16th in the NFL and last in the division.

In his first season as Gang Green's head coach and defensive leader, the Jets were ranked No. 1.

Ryan progressively delegated more defensive playcalling and defensive leadership duties over the past three years to coordinator Mike Pettine, and the unit went on to rank third, fifth and eighth in 2010, 2011 and 1012, respectively. The last three years weren't shabby by any means, but they weren't trending in the direction Ryan would like.

So with Pettine jettisoning to the Buffalo Bills to assume the same position but with a different organization, Ryan has decided to direct a little more of his attention back to his roots. Moving forward, he'll re-assume defensive play-calling duties and limit the responsibilities of new coordinator and former defensive backs coach Dennis Thurman.

"I think we're a better team if I'm running the defense," Ryan told Sirius XM's Mad Dog Radio this week. "I've got a great defensive coordinator in Dennis Thurman, there's no question, and obviously he's going to run it as well.

"But that's where my expertise lies and that's how my day-to-day, I will spend more time obviously with the defensive players but this is my football team and that's how I approach it. They know what I want and we'll be an aggressive football team right from the get-go in all three phases."

Ryan was criticized early in his head-coaching career for not paying enough attention to the offense, but as he moved his meter away from the defense and toward the offense, the team got worse as a whole.

New offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg is plenty capable of overlooking that side of the ball, and Ryan obviously figures things would be better if he just let Mornhinweg do his thing while sticking to what he (himself) knows best.

Jets Insider Top Stories