Rex Ryan says Woody Johnson didn't want to fire him as Jets coach

ByRich Cimini ESPN logo
Saturday, August 15, 2015

Buffalo Billscoach Rex Ryan's true feelings about his final season with the New York Jets have been trickling out over the past few months. In his latest soul-bearing session, Ryan revealed he anticipated before the 2014 season that it would be his last with the team.

"I knew we weren't going to have a good team when we never did anything in free agency. I knew that," Ryan told Andrea Kremer in a sitdown interview that will air next week on HBO's "Real Sports."

"Oh, I was done," he said. "One-hundred percent, I knew I was done. One-hundred percent."

Privately, Ryan expressed frustration last offseason when the Jets basically sat on their hands in free agency, except for signing wide receiver Eric Decker. The HBO interview marked the first time he was so vocal about it.

Ryan lobbied management for Darrelle Revis and DeSean Jackson last offseason, but then-general manager John Idzik refused to deviate from his plan.

Ryan and Idzik were fired in late December, and soon after, the Jets hired their replacements, Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan. Ryan took the Bills job in January. Buffalo lost its preseason opener 25-24 to the Carolina Panthers on Friday night.

To this day, Ryan is convinced owner Woody Johnson didn't want to fire him.

"Yeah, I know Woody wanted to keep me," Ryan said in the interview. "We talked like brothers. I know Woody never wanted to fire me. I could've been his coach for 20 years. That's what Woody wanted. There's no question Woody wanted that."

Asked if there was a scenario in which Johnson could've kept him, Ryan said, "Maybe, but I'll tell you this: He couldn't do it. There's no chance he could've brought in another GM and kept me again. There's no way. It wouldn't have never worked in New York. They weren't going to allow it. The media wasn't going to allow it. It wasn't going to work."

Ryan is probably right about that, because Johnson took plenty of heat when he retained Ryan in 2013 after firing Mike Tannenbaum. A second reprieve would've been a disastrous public relations move.

Ryan neglected to mention, of course, that missing the playoffs four straight years might have had something to do with his ouster.

Related Video