Former Jets special teams coach remembers Rex Ryan's pants catching fire


It’s safe to say that Rex Ryan coached with a unique fire that often produced entertaining results. Well, according to former Jets special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica, Ryan’s coaching once produced an actual fire.

Kotwica joined WJFK’s Zach Brook’s Upon Further Review podcast on Thursday and shared some of his New York memories, which included his time as a quality control coach and an assistant special teams coach during the Jets’ last window of contention, when Ryan led the team to back-to-back AFC Championship appearances.

Turns out, Ryan’s coaching fire burned a bit too brightly in a game against the Bengals.

“We were playing Cincinnati on the last game of the year and Rex was standing next to one of those heaters,” Kotwica said. “He had those plastic pants on to keep you warm and it was raining. He wasn’t paying attention and all of a sudden they caught on fire. His pants were on fire and he’s yelling and screaming.”

For Kotwica, a burning Rex yelling into the headset from the sideline was just one of the many memorable exchanges that came through his earpiece during his time on Ryan’s staff.

“I had the headset on and I was tuned into the defensive side, and there’s a reason that Rex is really good at what he’s doing now on ESPN,” Kotwica said. “Because the entertainment value of the NFL is really high just watching it, but there’s gonna be someone someday that’s going to pipe into the headset and listen to the play-by-play and the audio of the coaches, and I would assure you that [it would be] the No. 1 watched show with Rex on the headset…by far the most entertaining year of my life.”

Ryan likely had plenty of time to entertain his coaches through the headset in the 2009-10 years, especially when the Jets defense took the field. With Darrelle Revis in the secondary, New York left opposing offenses stranded on Revis Island in a run of dominance that Kotwica hasn’t seen in the league since.

“Week in and week out, having seen what he did in those years in 2009 and 2010, he’d be a Hall of famer no question,” Kotwica said. “I’ve never seen a corner that could single-handedly take away a side of the field and give you that defensive flexibility to play 10-on-9. That’s not a discredit to the other corners I’ve seen play, that’s more of a volume of credit to Darrelle in the performance I saw from him, especially in those years.”

Kotiwca saw Revis’ stardom rise from the practice field, where the six-time Pro-Bowler was just as elite.

“I learned as much from him as we taught him,” Kotwica said. “Anybody on that staff and watching Darrelle in those years, in 2009 and 2010, would tell you that he was the best practice player that I’ve ever known.”