"Rex is revered by his players and respected by his peers around the NFL for his innovative schemes," said Jets owner Woody Johnson. "There is no doubt in my mind that Rex has the expertise and instincts to build on the foundation that we have in place and take this franchise to the ranks of the NFL's elite. He will bring an aggressive, physical brand of football."
"I'd like to thank Woody Johnson and Mike Tannenbaum for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Ryan. "It's been a dream of mine to become a head coach in the NFL. Coming here to the New York Jets, where my father once coached and was part of the Super Bowl III staff, is fantastic. I look around at the facilities and the people they have in place and see a first-class organization. I'm just proud to be part of it."
Ryan's coaching roots and history with the Jets franchise began with his father, Buddy Ryan. The elder Ryan, former head coach of the Eagles and Cardinals, was on the defensive staff of the New York Jets from 1968-75, serving as the defensive line coach on the 1968 team that won Super Bowl III. Buddy was the architect of the "46" defense as the defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears, winning Super Bowl XX.
"During our search, we were looking for a great football mind and a passionate leader," Mike Tannenbaum said. "Rex is a coach with an established track record who is universally respected by players and coaches for his skills as a communicator and his creativity."
Ryan spent the last 10 seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, including 2008 as assistant head coach/defensive coordinator. During Ryan's tenure, the Ravens defense never ranked lower than sixth in the NFL. Since 1999, the Ravens rank first for fewest points allowed (17.1 per game), fewest rushing yards allowed per game (87.3), most shutouts (9), most takeaways (337), most interceptions (212), most interceptions for touchdowns (29) and third down conversion defense (33.9 percent). They rank second in the NFL since 1999 in total defense (280.7) and fourth in sacks (416). In those 10 seasons, the Ravens allowed an NFL-low 18 100-yard rushers, including none over the last 35 games.
Ryan began his Ravens career as the defensive line coach for Brian Billick in 1999, when the Ravens defense finished second in the NFL in total defense and second against the run. In 2000, the Ravens defense allowed the fewest points in a 16-game season in NFL history (165) en route to winning Super Bowl XXXV.
Ryan was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2005. In four seasons as defensive coordinator, the Ravens defense finished fifth (2005), first (2006), sixth (2007) and second (2008) in the NFL. In 2006, the defense allowed only 201 points and 264 yards per game as Ryan was named NFL Assistant Coach of the Year by Pro Football Weekly and the Pro Football Writers Association.
In 2008, new Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh named Ryan assistant head coach/defensive coordinator. The Ravens 2008 defense allowed 261.1 yards per game, marking the fourth time since 1999 the Ravens finished second overall in the NFL. The 2008 Ravens allowed 244 points, third-fewest in the NFL, and led the NFL with 34 takeaways, 26 interceptions and a league-low 60.6 opponents' passer rating. Baltimore also yielded a league-low four rushing touchdowns.
Before joining the Ravens, Ryan was a defensive coordinator in college at Oklahoma (1998) and Cincinnati (1996-97). His first NFL coaching stint was with the Arizona Cardinals under his father, Buddy Ryan, when he oversaw the defensive line in 1994 and linebackers in 1995. Ryan has also coached at Morehead State, New Mexico Highlands and Eastern Kentucky.
Ryan, 46, graduated from Stevenson High School in Prairie View, IL, and played football at SW Oklahoma State. He earned his Bachelor's Degree and Master's Degree in Physical Education at Eastern Kentucky in 1988.
Ryan, who was born in Ardmore, OK, and his wife, Michelle, have two sons, Payton and Seth.