Sean Payton, a former Super Bowl-winning head coach, is reportedly close to bringing a former Super Bowl-winning assistant coach to Denver. Rex Ryan, whose coaching career includes winning a Super Bowl ring as the Ravens' defensive line coach, has emerged as the top candidate to fill the Broncos' current defensive coordinator vacancy, according to NFL Media.
Ryan would be part of Payton's new staff in Denver after the latter was recently named the team's new head coach. Ryan, who for the past several years has served as an ESPN analyst, has not coached in the NFL since 2016, when he was fired near the end of his second season as the Bills' head coach. Ryan interviewed for the position on Saturday, Feb. 18, according to ESPN. That report also notes that Ryan would only leave the network "for the perfect situation."
The son of former NFL head coach and Super Bowl-winning defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, Rex Ryan went 61-66 during his eight seasons as a head coach with the Jets and Bills. He went 4-2 in the playoffs with the Jets that included back-to-back AFC title game appearances.
Prior to becoming a head coach, Ryan enjoyed a successful 10-year run with the Ravens that included four seasons as defensive coordinator. During his final year in Baltimore, Ryan's defense -- which was led by future Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed along with future Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs -- finished third in the NFL in scoring, second in passing yards allowed, third in rushing yards allowed, third in third-down efficiency and second in red zone efficiency.
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Ryan continued to lead talented defenses in New York. The 2009 Jets defense led the league in points and passing yards allowed as well as in third-down efficiency. Led by 2023 Hall of Fame inductee Darrelle Revis, the Jets finished sixth in the league in scoring defense the following season while helping New York make a return trip to the AFC title game.
Along with leading tough defenses, Ryan is also known for his colorful and boisterous personality. He had more than a few memorable moments when the Jets were the subject of HBO's "Hard Knocks" in 2010. His "snack" speech is one of the most memorable moments in "Hard Knocks" history.
If given the job, Ryan would preside over a Broncos defense that this past season finished 14th in the league in scoring, 12th in passing, 10th in rushing, second in third-down efficiency and second in red zone efficiency. The Broncos, who traded Pro Bowler Bradley Chubb before the deadline, were led defensively by defensive backs Patrick Surtain II and Justin Simmons, defensive end Dre'Mont Jones and linebacker Josey Jewell.
Denver's lack of offensive success didn't do its defense any favors last season, as the Broncos finished dead last in the league in scoring. That futility was one of the reasons why the Broncos hired Payton, an offensive mind who won a Super Bowl in New Orleans on the strength of a prolific offense.