New York Jets – What Is Rex Ryan’s Job Security?

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One of the most common questions surrounding the New York Jets this year is “what is it going to take for Rex Ryan to keep his job?” The Jets have low expectations and many argue that the front office has set him up to fail so new General Manager John Idzik can bring in his own guy next off-season. Rex Ryan isn’t an optimum situation but I wouldn’t paint him as a dead man walking quite yet.

The Jets are rebuilding because they need to rebuild. Their salary cap situation and talent level demanded it. There was no quick fix available and the front office has smartly taken a patient approach this off-season, setting the table for next year when they will have massive amounts of cap space and likely 12 draft picks. That being said, moves have been made this off-season to incrementally improve one of the league’s worst rosters in 2012.

Make no mistake, the Jets had one of the least talented teams in football last season and Rex Ryan still had them at 6-7, playing meaningful football into December. They had the worst quarterback situation in the NFL, were giving major reps to Mardy Gilyard, Clyde Gates at wide receiver, had no playmaking ability at running back and were painfully slow at linebacker. Yet, they were 17 Mark Sanchez fourth quarter turnovers on Monday Night against Tennessee away from being in wild-card contention in week 16.

Rex is going to keep this team competitive. This won’t be the 3-13 team that many project them to be. The defense will be good, particularly with an influx of speed at linebacker (Antwan Barnes and Demario Davis in a larger role) and defensive line (Sheldon Richardson). They also added a top ten draft pick at corner and while there are questions at safety, this is a defense that made the AFC Championship Game starting Brodney Pool and Eric Smith. The running game should compliment the defense well and help mask what is going to be a weak passing game.

The real question becomes, what is good enough? Will Idzik be satisfied with a 7-9 team who is competitive throughout the season and shows progress as the year goes on? He should be. Rex is the least of this team’s problems right now. A 34-30 record with 4 playoff wins through 4 years is nothing to scoff at, particularly with the inconsistencies at the quarterback position and lack of playmakers present on offense. Rex is far from a perfect coach but he brings a needed energy to the organization that players like playing for. You want Rex on the recruiting trail for you next season when you have 40 million dollars of cap space.

Who is out there that you want to start over with? Are you going to scrap the defense that Rex is building around Muhammad WIlkerson, Quinton Coples, Sheldon Richardson, Demario Davis, Dee Milliner and whatever other young players step up this year? Are you going to allow the new Head Coach to fire Marty Mornhinweg so Geno Smith is going to have to learn two offenses in two years?

Nobody is saying Rex is untouchable. If this team is getting whipped week in and week out. It is time to go. If they lose something like 7 of their last 8 and none of the young players progress as the season goes on. It is time to go. Yet, if Rex goes out and has this team playing meaningful football in December? Idzik should bring him back and let him head up a team that should see a substantial increase in talent thanks to free agency and the 2014 NFL Draft.

  • mikeM

    Just get Rex a decent QB and receivers that can catch the football, and you will have a winning team for a long time.

  • KAsh

    During the past month, the more I thought about next year’s outcome, the more pessimistic I have become.

    For one, I expect the defense to do worse this year than last year. Rex runs a complicated defensive scheme. He needs players who are not easily flustered when something unexpected happens. His veteran leaders on defense are Cromartie, who was outstanding last year and is stepping into a leadership role this year, and… Harris. Yes, the de facto leaders in the front seven are Wilkerson and Davis, but they currently have three years of experience between them. Do not be surprised if the front seven does not have things fully together, which can in turn expose weaknesses at safety and inexperience at corner.

    More than in any other year of the Rex Ryan Jets, the offense will need to step up. Sanchez will have to carry this team or Geno will have to step in and run right away. Rex will not get a much larger reprieve if he starts Geno as a bad record that puts the Jets into a position to snag a franchise QB in the draft will make Geno expendable. The rest of the offense will need to impress. The RBs will need to be healthy and likely elevate this offense. The receivers need to stop dropping balls and stretch the field. Many of the presumed starters (Colon, Winslow, Ivory, Holmes, and Hill) have injury histories, both recent and extensive. Their backups have promise, but are untested and will need to show their full potential if the worst happens and they get thrown into a starting position.

    I cannot honestly ballpark the number of wins and losses next season. If the team plays to its potential, the playoffs are a piece of cake; if some of what I touched on above happens, get ready for a high draft pick.

    Anyway, Rex’s future is probably not tied to a number. If he has a 6-10 season, but builds that on victories against the Browns, Raiders, Titans, Panthers, Bucs, and one win against the Bills, that will probably be fireable. However, a 6-10 season where we beat the Bengals, the Ravens, and take a game from the Patriots, especially if the rest are not blowout losses, looks much better. I am actually going to boil Rex’s future down to the gauntlet – weeks 5-9. One win or less is dangerous for his job security. Two wins is borderline. Three wins or more and you either extend Rex’s contract or at least let him play out the final year of it.

    Ultimately, this will be Idzik’s decision. Idzik has said nothing but good things about Rex, but he has never said a bad thing about anyone. You may be right that there might not be any better candidates for HC than Rex, but Idzik might see things differently. I think Idzik will let Rex enter the last year of his contract as long as this year is not a disaster. Idzik is rational, patient, cautious, and meticulous. He will not fire Rex until he is sure someone could have done a better job.

  • Marc L

    Hey, mikeM
    Just get Rex decent QB PROTECTION, and you will have a winning team for a long time.

  • Mark Phelan

    Will Rex improve as a HC in 2013?

    Has the blustery, entertaining Rex been helpful to team development and performance or has it just upped the motivation of their opponents?

    Has the praise he parcels out for individual players been a good thing, or has it taken the edge of their motivation while increasing their Agents’ hunger at contract time?

    There is a long list of questions about Rex and his coaching style. One thing for sure, he is larger than life.
    Personally, I think he can mature into a less public figure while retaining his motivational skills.

    Does he have the ability to select the coordinators he needs and then trust them? That’s been on-again, off-again and perhaps not that important.

  • twoshady

    i think Rex has done more good for the team than bad. He brought a team out of mediocrity and made them relevant. Remember all the bandwagon hoppers in ’09 – ’10? When’s the last time that happened? i can’t think of any. I’ve watched the Jets for years and Rex was a huge breath of fresh air. He came in and kicked the door down of the AFC east and put the Jets right up at the top. If it wasn’t for the roster/salary mismanagement of T-Bomb, we wouldn’t even be having this debate. If this year we see a quieter, more down to business Rex he will prove his worth and continue as HC for awhile.

  • JT

    This whole Rex Ryan thing is a point of contention with me. I understand why people (mostly media) assume Rex is a lame duck. It’s been how the NFL works historically. New GM gets rid of old regime’s coach and brings in “his own guys”.
    Within the context of the moves Idzik is making, how are they seen as setting Rex up for failure? Start with the first 2 draft picks. They had to have been chosen with Rex’s scheme in mind. Please spare me that they were thin on the DL. You don’t take a first rounder for depth. How high could a one gap penetrator have gone if not for the Jets taking him 13? 16? Not the way the draft fell. Point is, he’s not there for depth but rather schematic purpose. Same goes for Milliner. First rounders like that are not taken to satisfy the scheme needs of a 1 year lame duck coach. What other coach is going to be able to make this mix of players work on defense? Annnndd go…. go…
    Secondarily, the move for Mornhinweg seems like a manager making a good hire. He has run a team as a HC and a proven offensive system. Ostensibly, Rex’s weakness is covered and all he has to do from an offensive perspective in MANAGE the team. What a novel idea! Also, why hire Mornhinweg if you plan on changing the HC in which case HE will want to bring in “his guy”?
    I don’t see how Rex is a lame duck. He’s a great defensive mind and I would really like to see him develop as an HC. I don’t want to regret the way I’m sure the Browns did with Belichek.

  • damion

    Now wait a minute I thought this site was on a mission to civilized coverage of the Jets, the writer of this post goes on and on about how terrible the 2012 season was for the Jets and how the roster was lacking in talent, Mardy Gilyard, Clyde Gates were mentioned but no reason was given as to why those players were being given reps. The Jets face a ton of injuries,the best player on the team (Revis) their top play maker on offense (S.Holmes) not to mention their leading receiver from 2011 Dustin Keller was in and out of the line up all year,rookie stephen Hill’s season was cut short with a Knee injury, the writer also neglects to say anything about the absents NT
    Sione Po’uha who had issues with his back since the 1st day of training camp, which has an effect on the “painfully slow linebackers” I mean lets be a lil fair here sure the Jets didn’t have a great roster
    (it was mostly top heavy) but alot of other factors were at play.
    #justsaying

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    I’m inclined to agree with JT that Rex is not a lame duck, even though a HC in the NFL typically is in this situation. That being said, the Jets have been on a downward slide the last two years, & Rex will probably lose his job if that continues.

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  • David

    JT, I have to disagree with you on the 2 defensive players drafted in round 1. They are both scheme versatile. For example, Sheldon Richardson in a 3-4 will play DE. If the next coach in here runs a 4-3, you move him inside to DT. You will see it a lot this year with the Jets. If the Jets run a 3-4, you will have Richardson and Wilkerson at DE with Garay or Ellis at NT with your LB’s being Barnes, Harris, Davis, and Coples.

    If the Jets go to a 4-3, Richardson and Wilkerson move inside to DT and Barnes or Pace move to one DE with Coples at the other. The LB’s would likely be Davis, Harris, and whomever doesn’t play DE.

    In terms of Rex Ryan’s job security, my main thing is not the wins and losses, but are we progressing properly as the season rolls on. The last two years, we’ve started out solidly, but failed miserably at the end.