Rex Ryan says it was difficult to lose 106 pounds over the off-season but it might have been harder for the New York Jets coach to admit he also lost control of his team last year.
Besides the changed body image, Ryan now has rewired his way of thinking and has a whole new coaching philosophy to go along with it.
"I'm sitting there, talking in front of the team, selling, 'Team, team, team,' like I always are, and I did not know we had a rift in our team, " said Ryan. "How was I not aware of it?"
The third-year head coach admitted— after the Jets season ending loss to the Miami Dolphins— he "lost the pulse" of the team.
"I was mad. I was upset. I was mad at myself because you're either coaching it, or allowing it to happen, and I'm not going to do either," he said.
Ryan says he now has more open communication with bis players. He said that communicating begins with an unnamed someone whom he calls "my little sensei"— the Japanese word for teacher.
The coach won't reveal the name of his Mr. Miyagi— at least not yet.
"After we have the season that we're going to have, I'll mention his name," said Ryan.
While it isn't the first preseason boast by Ryan, at least he toned down his act by not claiming a Super Bowl victory or dissing a cross-town team or a rival coach.
In a locker room that could blow at any time— Tebow/Sanchez, Revis holdout threats— the once boisterous Ryan sounds like he intends to become an island of tranquility.
"He's revived," said owner Woody Johnson. "It's a different Rex in a way, because I think Rex is evolving into the job."
Before Ryan left for the Pro-Bowl in Hawaii last winter, GM Mike Tannenbaum handed Ryan a yellow business pad and gave his coach a Mr. Miyagi wax on-wax off exercise.
"Put all the problems on the left-hand side," he said. "And all the solutions on the right."
After the the island trip, Ryan had filled pages of the yellow pad and met with Tannenbaum.
"Let's go," Ryan told the GM. "We've got to get better, and it starts with me."
Rex Ryan-san anyone?