"We got the right man for the job," owner Woody Johnson said in a statement.
It became apparent the 46-year-old Ryan was at the top of the Jets' list of candidates when several other teams filled their coaching vacancies and New York's remained open. The Jets needed Baltimore's season to end -- which happened Sunday with a 23-14 loss at Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship Game -- before offering him the job.
Ryan, the son of former NFL coach Buddy Ryan, will be formally introduced at a news conference at 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday at the Jets' facility in Florham Park, N.J.
"It's been a dream of mine to become a head coach in the NFL," Ryan said in a statement. "Coming here to the New York Jets, where my father once coached and was part of the Super Bowl III staff, is fantastic. I look around at the facilities and the people they have in place and see a first-class organization. I'm just proud to be part of it."
The Jets announced the hiring, but released no other details. The contract is for four years, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity earlier Monday because the deal had not yet been announced.
The deal was finalized Monday afternoon after Johnson and general manager Mike Tannenbaum flew down to Baltimore in the morning to iron out the details, Jets spokesman Bruce Speight said.
"There is no doubt in my mind that Rex has the expertise and instincts to build on the foundation that we have in place and take this franchise to the ranks of the NFL's elite," Johnson said.
Ryan takes over a team that started 8-3, but missed the playoffs with quarterback Brett Favre after losing four of its last five games.
"I'm very much looking forward to meeting Coach Ryan," wide receiver Chansi Stuckey said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "His reputation precedes him by the success that Baltimore has had, and I'm very excited to get started."
The Ravens' defensive coordinator the last four seasons is the twin brother of Cleveland defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. His Baltimore defense helped the Ravens to the AFC Championship Game and has been ranked in the top six in total yardage allowed the last four seasons under Ryan, including second overall this season while leading the NFL with 34 takeaways.
"I think it's a gain for them and a loss for us, but it's well-deserved," Ravens linebacker Bart Scott said. "It was a long time coming."
This will be the first head coaching job for Ryan, who is said to be well liked among his players because of his straightforward, no-nonsense style.
Scott said Ryan makes a good coach because of "his ability to come down to the level of his players and become one of them."
The Jets interviewed at least five other candidates, including offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, assistant head coach/offensive line coach Bill Callahan, Arizona assistant head coach/offensive line coach Russ Grimm, Indianapolis defensive coordinator Ron Meeks and fired Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski.
Whether Ryan will have Favre on his roster this season is unclear. The 39-year-old quarterback recently said he would take several weeks before deciding whether to return.
Nicknamed "The Mad Scientist" for his aggressive and unpredictable game plans, Ryan prefers to run a 3-4 defensive scheme, which the Jets already have in place. New York spent big money last offseason acquiring players that excel in the 3-4, including nose tackle Kris Jenkins and linebacker Calvin Pace.
Ryan inherits a defense that had an impressive start with 29 sacks in its first eight games but just 12 in the last half of the season. The secondary also might need a makeover, ranking 29th overall against the pass despite Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis and playmaking safety Kerry Rhodes.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press