FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Rex Ryan is determined to do things his way. As long as he's leading a team -- the Jets or anyone else -- he'll take pride in being the ultimate "players' coach.''
Some NFL coaches bristle at the negative connotation -- having no control or not enough backbone to hold players accountable. But Ryan insists he runs a tight ship.
"Sometimes people throw that term around like you're soft or something. It's the exact opposite,'' he told Newsday after Thursday's practice. "A players' coach, to me, is somebody that cares about his players, someone that tries to give our guys an opportunity to be successful.''
Ryan never will be like Bill Belichick, who sent home Darrelle Revis for arriving late to practice. He benched Jonas Gray for the same offense a week after he scored four touchdowns. Nor will Ryan ever gain the same attention that Tom Coughlin did in terms of disdain for tardiness.
"But believe me, when Revis was here, he was fined,'' Ryan said with a smile. "It seems like, hey, if you're winning, your team's really disciplined. If you're not, then you're not.
"My team is disciplined. It's not shown making a public spectacle out of somebody. That's not my style. I'll never do that. But will discipline be in place if I think a fine is appropriate? Absolutely. It just might not have that outward appearance because I don't bench somebody.''
Ryan didn't bench Geno Smith for being late to a 10-minute meeting the night before a game, but assistant coach Tim McDonald didn't start rookie safety Calvin Pryor because he was late to a meeting, weight-room lifts and weight checks, a source said. Ryan on Thursday refused to confirm the identities of other tardy players or their fines.
Ryan said the Jets "don't advertise'' player discipline, adding: "And it could be our best player.'' But twice a week at team meetings, he'll announce individual infractions. "I'll let them know who's done what,'' he said. "So that's never swept under the carpet.''
But for all his tough love behind the scenes, the Jets still lack discipline on the field, and at 2-10, there's only pride to play for. After four consecutive non-winning seasons, many assume the curtain soon will fall on the Rex Ryan Era. But until then, he won't change his approach.
"The reason I'm in this spot is because of who I am and the way I coach,'' Ryan said of being one of only 32 people to be an NFL head coach. "I don't have to do it like Tom Coughlin, a guy who I have a ton of respect for. But if I did everything the way Tom Coughlin does, then that's not who I am. What's made me successful is being myself.''
Ryan makes no apologies for the person he is in front of the camera or the leader he is behind closed doors.
"Am I a players' coach? Man, I hope so,'' he said. "I think that is the greatest compliment you can give a coach. I believe I am because I care about my players. Not just as football players but as men.
"This is about what I do. I don't do things for perception or anything else. This is how I run my team. Why would I change it? I've got no reason to change it.''