Week 12 Record: 1-1-1
Season Record: 13-21-2
Let’s go back, briefly, to my pick from last week’s Falcons/Buccaneers game. I’ll just copy and paste it verbatim because it’s glorious:
“Falcons -1 at Buccaneers: I think the Falcons win this game, and to me, if they win it they’re going to cover a one point spread.
/Watches in dismay as the Falcons win by 1″
Just in case you guys forgot, the Falcons won 24-23. YAY.
If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me respond to Chris Gross’ excellent, well-thought out and researched piece defending Rex Ryan by naming him the Captain of Team Pro Rex, while countering and calling myself the Captain of Team Anti Rex. I’ll use this space to state my case as to why I’m just not a big Ryan fan, even though I’m like most Jets fans and fell in love with the guy in 2009.
Chris used mainly numbers to justify that Ryan is coaching a collection of players that simply aren’t good enough, or at least very much below the average of their opponents at basically every position on the field. There’s no arguing that, and I would never ever argue that Rex isn’t getting the full potential out of this lot of crappy players that the Jets have assembled in 2012. No team is going to win a lot of games giving major reps to guys like Edmond “Clyde” Gates, Chaz Schilens, Austin Howard, Matt Slauson, and, in 2012 at least, Bart Scott, Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas. The Jets do not have playoff talent, so I don’t expect Rex to lead this team to the playoffs.
Do I expect better than four wins at this point in the season? Maybe. But I certainly expect the team to be more competitive on a week-by-week basis and not get blown out five times, thrice at home. That, I believe, is largely on the coach. It’s my opinion that teams in the NFL, a league designed so that every team can win every week, don’t get blown out consistently if they have a truly great coach on the sideline. Regardless of the talent on the roster.
Now, Mike Tannenbaum deserves every ounce of blame he gets for the Jets’ being the way they are this year. He doesn’t deserve to be the GM of this team anymore. But you cannot simply blame Tannenbaum and nobody else, and that includes Rex Ryan. It’s not like Rex went on vacation all offseason and parachuted into Florham Park in mid July and was like “Woah, Tanny, what the hell is this? This is who I have to work with?” It’s impossible that Rex has NO say whatsoever in the personnel on his team. I understand that there are salary cap implications and the like, but you can’t tell me that Rex Ryan couldn’t go to Tannenbaum right after last season and say “Mike, I can’t go into next year with these four linebackers. And we need a better right tackle. And a fullback. And a…” and you get the point. And if he doesn’t have any say, at all? If it’s literally that he just shows up and coaches the guys he’s given, well that tells you all you need to know about the Jets organization.
What this also brings up is a question I often ponder, and that’s whether coaches make players or players make coaches in the NFL. I think there are strong arguments either way. Bill Belichick did not have great success as a head coach before going to New England and having Mo Lewis deliver Tom Brady into his lap. There’s no doubt that Brady, or any great quarterback, can hide the shortcomings of a head coach. But I personally think there are more examples of “system” players, guys that can thrive in the right situation, if used correctly and maximized by the coaching staff.
My favorite example in this case is Victor Cruz. I respect the hell out of Cruz, and I’m in no way trying to say that the guy lacks talent or anything. You don’t put up record-setting seasons like he did last year if you’re not any good. But football is the ultimate system sport. Tom Coughlin is an offensive coach, a wide receivers coach by trade, and I have a tiny feeling that he knows exactly what hes doing in terms of utilizing Victor Cruz. I look at someone like Jeremy Kerley or Randall Cobb, and I’m honestly not so sure that there’d be that big of a drop off if the Giants replaced Cruz with one of those guys. Maybe they wouldn’t put up numbers that were as gaudy, but it’s not like Cruz makes the Giants an 11-win team where they’d be a seven or eight win team with Kerley or Cobb. That’s because Tom Coughlin is a great coach – and it definitely doesn’t hurt having a top quarterback like Eli Manning either.
I’m sure there are instances in which Ryan has gotten more out of certain players than other coaches would. Maybe Muhammad Wilkerson wouldn’t be half the player he is with the Jets than if he were on half the other teams in the NFL. I don’t think Rex is an incompetent football coach, and this brings me to my next point that I’ve always feared with Rex, and that he’s a great defensive coordinator but an average-at-best head coach. There are a lot of signs that this is the case, from poor clock and game management, to the fact that he admitted that this season, his FOURTH AS A HEAD COACH, that he’s going to more offensive meetings and getting more involved on that side of the ball than ever before. I’ve never played football on any level, so maybe I’m naive and this is just how head coaches work, but if that’s the case then that’s asinine. You’ve always gotten the sense with Rex that his defense was all important, and the offense was just the other side of the ball. Which brings me to my last point, one that I think is the most relevant in today’s league.
I think that the type of football Ryan wants to play is archaic. That’s my opinion. The league has changed over the past 10 or 15 years, and you need to change with it in order to be successful. The worst thing that ever happened to Rex Ryan was being on the Ravens’ staff in 2000 when they won the Super Bowl with an all-time defense, a good running game and an otherwise pretty bad offense, with a middling quarterback and receivers. He’s trying to recreate that with the Jets, but it’s 2012 and that doesn’t work anymore. Look at the teams that have made and won the Super Bowl over the past few seasons. New England constantly wins 13 games and goes deep into the playoffs despite having one of the league’s worst defenses nearly every year. The Giants’ defense has patches every season where you think “they cannot win with this”, yet they do. The Colts, for years, had Peyton Manning and a bad defense, yet they won a Super Bowl and went to another. The Saints, the Packers…these are the types of teams that win in the NFL these days.
What all of those teams have in common is great quarterbacking, and that’s not something the Jets have. But it goes beyond that, and it’s about the culture of those teams and how they’re built. It’s not about punching someone in the mouth and giving up 10 points. It’s not about running the ball to control the clock and keep the other team’s QB on the sidelines. All those successful teams we just mentioned didn’t have shut down defenses, they had defenses that could make big plays at big times. They had the ability, and most importantly the desire and were designed to, put up a lot of points and hit big plays. Watching the Jets over the past three-plus seasons, I don’t get the vibe it’s just that the Jets can’t play offense this way, it’s that they don’t want to. Too risky. Too much potential for turnovers. Well if your defense is so great, how about picking up the offense when it inevitably turns the ball over? I’m sorry, you don’t hand-pick Tony Sparano to run your offense if you want to succeed in the NFL in 2012.
This is not even to get into the idea of Ryan’s boasts, the ridiculousness that constantly surrounds this team, etc. I honestly don’t even believe in that stuff too much. That’s the type of thing that is all well and good when you’re winning, and is a disaster when you’re losing. I have no problem with that.
And I honestly hate that I feel this way because I did love Rex Ryan when he took over in 2009. It felt like he changed the culture of the Jets, but I think the past two seasons are a clear indication that he really didn’t. He merely turned the Jets from a team that nobody bothered paying any attention to into to one that people love to point and laugh at and root against. Either way, they aren’t winning. At one point, us Jets fans thought that we had our coach in Herman Edwards, in Eric Mangini, when those guys surprised us early on by bringing us to the playoffs. I think Rex is a better coach than both of those guys, and I really hope that we don’t look back on him the same way we do those guys.
I fear, however, that we will.
Oh yeah, the picks:
Jaguars +6 at Bills, 49ers -7 at Rams, Jets -4.5 vs. Cardinals
Bonus Non-Football Bet of the Week (Season Record: 5-6-1): Boxing Bet Alert: Miguel Cotto vs. Austin Trout. I like Cotto at -230 to win, and under 9.5 rounds at +220.