SAN DIEGO (AP) — Rex Ryan opened his mouth and got Chargers-Jets week off to a rousing start.
During a conference call with San Diego reporters on Wednesday, Ryan mentioned that it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be an NFL head coach.
He was then asked if he had reflected on what would have happened if he’d been hired in San Diego for his first NFL head coaching job back in 2007.
`’I think I would have had a couple of rings. I’m telling you, those teams were loaded. There’s no question about it,” Ryan said. “But things happen for a reason.”
The Jets said Ryan later called Chargers counterpart Norv Turner to clarify his comments, explaining that he didn’t mean it as a slight.
Turner was due to meet with the media later Wednesday. The Chargers (4-1) visit the Jets (3-3) on Sunday in a game that now has yet another subplot. It will be the Chargers’ first game against former teammates LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Cromartie.
Ryan and Turner interviewed for the Chargers head coaching job on the same day in February 2007, shortly after Marty Schottenheimer was fired because of his icy relationship with general manager A.J. Smith. The Chargers were coming off a 14-2 season and had earned the AFC’s No. 1 playoff seed before a shocking collapse against New England in their playoff opener.
When he met with the media following his interview with Smith that day, Ryan was wearing the Super Bowl ring he earned as defensive line coach of the Baltimore Ravens in 2000. He had just completed his second year as the Ravens’ defensive coordinator.
Ryan spoke that day about how he’d love to win an NFL championship with the Chargers. “That would be something that we’d be targeting. We’d like to get several of those,” Ryan said.
It was Ryan’s first interview for any head coaching job.
`’You know, obviously Norv Turner has done a great job there and A.J. and everybody. I mean, that’s a great franchise and he’s probably the best guy for the job at that time,” Ryan said Wednesday. `’I think with me, I was so happy that A.J. gave me the opportunity to interview in San Diego because quite honestly, I wasn’t on anybody’s radar. We had set records in `06 on defense and won a lot of games but for some reason there were like 10 openings and he was the only person that interviewed me. I thought that that opened some doors for me the next year. I had three interviews. I never got any, so I must have done a terrible job in the interview process. But the one thing is, I was always myself. If somebody was going to hire me, that’s the only thing I wanted is that they would allow me to be myself. I’m real fortunate that I was given this opportunity here with the Jets.”
It’s doubtful that Ryan’s gregarious personality would have played well with San Diego’s buttoned-down front office.
Smith gave the job to Turner, who had been a combined 58-82-1 in two seasons as head coach at Oakland and not quite seven full seasons with Washington. It was a signature hire for Smith, whose late boss, John Butler, had hired Schottenheimer.
Following a 1-3 start in Turner’s first season, the Bolts bounced back to finish 11-5 and made it all the way to the AFC championship game before losing at New England. The Chargers haven’t won a playoff game since 2008.
In 2009, the Chargers finished 13-3 before being shocked at home in the divisional round of the playoffs by the Jets. That was Ryan’s first year as head coach.
Ryan has led the Jets to the AFC title game each of the last two seasons, losing both times. He is 4-2 in the playoffs those two seasons, with all four victories coming on the road. Turner is 3-3 in the playoffs with the Chargers and 4-4 overall.
The Chargers missed the playoffs last year.
That playoff loss to the Jets was the final game with the Chargers for both Tomlinson and Cromartie. Tomlinson’s departure from the Chargers was less than amicable.
Schottenheimer’s son, Brian, is the Jets’ offensive coordinator.