For the third consecutive season, the New York Jets will be outsiders come playoff time. After reaching the AFC Championship in both 2009 and 2010, the Rex Ryan-led squad has come up short, leading to speculation that first-year general manager John Idzik may opt to go with his own hire in the offseason and jettison the fiery and charismatic coach.
The Jets (6-8) are assured of having its third straight non-winning season to go along with those playoff-less finishes. But if you ask Ryan, he believes that despite coming up short these past few seasons, he unequivocally believes that he should stay on as the Jets head coach.
The Jets have lost four of five games. And while the team was not officially eliminated from playoff contention until Justin Tucker’s 61-yard field goal made over the crossbar and through the uprights to clinch the Baltimore Ravens’ win over the Detroit Lions on Monday night, the writing was on the wall more or less regarding the Jets’ slim playoff hopes on Monday. Ryan nevertheless insisted during his meeting with the press Monday that he remains the right man for the job. Via a Steve Serby column in the New York Post:
Of course I believe it. Of course, no question I believe it,” Ryan said during a press conference Monday. “There’s no doubt, but again, I’d rather get out of this press conference and go to work. That’s how I feel about this.”
Another barrage followed before I asked: “Why do you believe you’re the right man for this team?”
“I’m a competent guy even though I know that will be questioned a zillion times forward and backward. Whatever, that’s fine,” Ryan said.
“But I know I’m a good football coach. I believe in this team. I believe in this organization and I’m determined to bring a winner to this team. There’s no question about it. I know and I believe I’m the right guy for it. Now again, I’m not the guy making that decision.”
Being in the AFC East division with the always-tough New England Patriots hasn’t made things easy on the Jets and Ryan, but even he presumably would admit to some mistakes, beginning and ending with the decision to stick with Mark Sanchez long after the quarterback arguably proved that he wasn’t the answer.
But other issues are still prevalent. The offense remains a mess under the leadership of rookie Geno Smith. And the defense, while ranked 12th in the NFL overall, is ranked 26th against the pass. The defense did lose six starters from last season and is a work in progress. It could be argued that the Jets fared better than many pundits and experts predicted at the onset of this season.
But in the end, the proof is in the pudding and in the NFL, the recipe for said pudding is qualifying for the playoffs. And the Jets aren’t making it there. Again.
There is no question that Ryan is a capable coach, seems extremely likeable — if not a bit odd and eccentric — relates well to his players and has managed to withstand and tolerate the ferocious New York media with grace, humor and moxie.
So, is he staying or is he going? We know now how Rex feels about it, although like most coaches, his stock answer shouldn’t be the least bit surprising. In the end, time may have run out for Rex Ryan in New York. But no one should spend any time worrying about or feeling sorry for Rex. He’ll land on his own two feet should he find himself out of a job at season’s end.