And that isn’t a surprise given Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton served as the Jets assistant head coach/linebackers coach in 2012 and as the Jets senior defensive assistant/linebackers coach (2009-11) under Ryan.
“Bob Sutton is an outstanding football coach,” Ryan said during Wednesday’s media conference call. “And you talk about a guy and obviously you guys know him as a great man, a great leader, and man, does he have those guys playing.”
The Chiefs defense under Sutton currently ranks third overall in the league, allowing 308.6 total yards per game, and third in points allowed per game (18.3).
Sutton’s defensive secondary ranks first against the pass (195.7 yards allowed per game).
Ryan complimented Sutton’s ability to get the most out of players and expressed surprise Sutton hasn’t landed a head coaching position in the NFL.
Still, Ryan has hope Sutton’s opportunity will eventually arrive.
“Hopefully he’ll get one this year,” Ryan said. “I hope it’s not mine, but he really is a great coach.”
The Jets head coach recalled fondly how Chiefs coach Andy Reid, even during his days with the Philadelphia Eagles, would inquire on Sutton’s availability.
“Andy Reid tried to get him every single year I was there,” Ryan said. “He would call and try to get him and I’m like, ‘No I’m not letting you, not letting you have him’ and things like that.”
Ultimately, Ryan conceded it was best to allow Sutton an opportunity to shine elsewhere, which happened to be with Reid in Kansas City.
“I never wanted to lose Bob, obviously,” Ryan said. “He was my assistant head coach and everything, but it was the best thing for Bob and his career to get an opportunity to be a coordinator and I knew the kind of coach he is. He’s a great coach and a great person.”
The original question posed to Jets coach Rex Ryan called for his thoughts on Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston, who leads the NFL with 10 sacks.
Ryan changed gears by providing perspective.
“I think first off when you’re looking at Houston,” Ryan said, “I think you have to look at Tamba Hali also.”
Ryan, who is regarded around the NFL as a defensive guru, lavished compliments on Hali’s skillset from a high motor to the use of hands.
“He’s just a relentless player and physical, smart, obviously loves to play,” Ryan said. “I just appreciate players like that.”
Ryan, of course, also spoke highly of Houston, pointing out the fourth-year pro’s body control and ability to finish.
But the Jets coach returned to Hali, who has four sacks on the season and ranks third all-time in sacks in Chiefs history with 77 ½.
“For my money, I like Tamba Hali the best,” Ryan said. “But Houston obviously is a great player also. Both of those guys, they’re both outstanding.”
RESPECTING THE RUNNING BACKS
Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, last season’s NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, has a homecoming of sorts Sunday when the Jets visit Arrowhead Stadium.
The St. Louis native played collegiately at Missouri and he’s familiar with the Chiefs, and two opposing player have his attention, namely running backs Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis.
“They get him in the open field a lot,” Sheldon said of Charles during Wednesday’s media conference call, “nice running schemes they have for him. He knows how to press and hold on the outside and how to keep his holds, too.”
The Jets play the run well, ranking fifth against the run and allow 85.4 yards per game. Richardson plays a large role in the interior line where he has 40 tackles (23 solo) on the season to go along with 3 ½ sacks and a forced fumble.
While Richardson knows to keep an eye on Charles, the Jets also are fully aware Charles’ primary backup poses a threat.
“We’re not sleeping on Knile Davis either,” Richardson said. “He’s got some speed to him too even though he’s more downhill.”
The prospect of seeing both running backs on the other side of the ball has Richardson looking forward to the challenge.
“I’m ready for it,” he said. “I can’t wait. I’m excited to be playing out at Arrowhead, too, and playing back in Kansas City.”