Falcons Will Interview Rex Ryan Next Week

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY SportsRex Ryan

Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports that former New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan will interview with the Atlanta Falcons along with the San Francisco 49ers next week. Ryan was fired by the Jets on Monday and will mark the sixth candidate that the Falcons have requested interviews from in order to replace Mike Smith, who was also fired earlier this week.

Ryan, 52, spent the past six seasons as the Jets’ head coach and compiled a 46-50 record. The Jets failed to make the postseason the past four seasons after advancing to the AFC Championship Game during each of Ryan’s first two seasons in 2009 and 2010. With the Jets, Ryan was known for his prolific defenses. His 2009 unit finished first in the league in both scoring and total defense. They never ranked lower than 11th in total defense in the five seasons since, and finished twice among the top 5 defenses. After ranking sixth in in 2010, his defenses never ranked higher than 19th in scoring defense in the years since. The 2014 Jets defense ranked 24th, marking a career-low for a defense coached by Ryan.

Ryan has been linked to the Falcons since October, after having interviewed with the team in 2008 when the team hired Smith.

Ryan is the brother of current New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and the son of Buddy Ryan, who was the defensive coordinator of the famed 1985 Chicago Bears team. Rex broke into coaching in 1987 as a graduate assistant at Eastern Kentucky after playing defensive end at Southwestern Oklahoma State. He moved on to New Mexico Highlands University (1989) and Morehead State (1990-93) as defensive coordinator before joining his brother and father in the pros as an assistant with the Arizona Cardinals. He served as defensive line and linebackers coach under his father in Arizona from 1994 to 1995. He then became the defensive coordinator at the University of Cincinnati in 1996. He moved onto Oklahoma in 1998 and was at Kansas State for a month in 1999. His stay in Kansas was brief  due to being hired as the defensive line coach of the Baltimore Ravens in 1999. There he served alongside several Falcons assistants including Smith and Mike Nolan. He would be promoted to defensive coordinator after Nolan left to coach the 49ers in 2005. He served in that capacity until 2009 when he was hired by the Jets. During four seasons as the Ravens defensvie coordinator, the defense never ranked lower than sixth in total defense, finishing atop the league in 2006. They also ranked first in scoring defense that same year, and finished third in 2008, 10th in 2005 and 22nd in 2007.

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Aaron Freeman
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