TOJ: Hey Idzik, Extend Rex Now

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Coming into the 2013 season, a popular narrative around the football world was that Rex Ryan was on the hot seat and would be gone in 2014. Hell, many people thought he would be the first coach fired during the season. Some incredibly even called for him to be fired during the PRE-season! According to all these experts, the writing was on the wall: There was a new GM in town who couldn’t possibly want Rex to stay around, and the embattled coach was saddled with a terrible team that had no chance to win enough games for him to keep his job. We heard it all. “Circus… Buffoon… Dead Man Walking…” Well not only did Rex show that he shouldn’t be fired, he’s shown that the Jets should go ahead and give him a contract extension. Not after the season; Now. 

It may seem like that’s a rash thing to say and too reactionary based off the huge win in Atlanta, but it’s not. Extending Rex Ryan is something the Jets should have done this offseason so that him and Idzik could be in this together 100% and build something for the future. As far back as April I thought Rex should be extended and there are many reasons for it. Rex is the right man for the job in 2014 and here’s why…

The Defense – Any discussion about Rex Ryan and this Jets team begins with the defense. Rex is the best defensive coach in the NFL and he’s showing that again this year. After the trade of Darrelle Revis everyone thought the defense was going to take a step back, but they forgot to account for Rex Ryan being in charge of the unit, which was a pretty huge oversight.

Rex has rebuilt the defense — his pride and joy — with a dominant defensive front that can pressure the quarterback and allow him to dial up his exotic looks after using smoke and mirrors the past two years to cover up some pretty big holes. He also decided to go back to his roots and become the de-facto defensive coordinator himself and call all of the defensive plays, which was the smartest thing he could have possibly done. As Rex has evolved as a coach, he’s realized what works and what doesn’t. The CEO-type approach where he oversees all the areas of the team without getting totally involved didn’t work for him. Rex is at his best when he’s all-in on the defense and can leave the offense to a competent coordinator (like Marty Mornhinweg), and that’s exactly what he’s done.

And look at the players Rex has developed on that side of the ball. Mo Wilkerson has become one of the very best players in the league under the watchful eye of Rex Ryan and his lieutenant / defensive line guru, Karl Dunbar. Damon Harrison has developed into a dominant force as a run stuffer after being an undrafted free agent, and Sheldon Richardson looks like a star in the making. Demario Davis has flourished in his second season in the league, and Antonio Cromartie has turned into one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL after the Chargers gave up on him. Rex also has the incredible ability to turn journeymen-type players into legit role players, as you can see with guys like Darrin Walls, Dawan Landry, Antonio Allen, Garrett McIntyre, Leger Douzable, and Jaiquawn Jarrett. The man can coach, and not letting him finish what he’s started to build with this young defense would be downright criminal.

Geno Smith – Prior to the Falcons game, there was an awful lot of chatter about how Geno Smith could — should? — be benched in favor of Matt Simms. Yeah, that’s right… Matt Simms. While I thought Geno should absolutely be given all 16 games this season to be evaluated, I had legit concerns that Rex might pull the plug on the rookie and give Simms a shot or wait until The Artist Formerly Known as The Sanchize returned from his injury and throw him right back into the mix. The reason for that is that Rex Ryan is undoubtedly coaching for his job this season and may have been unwilling to live and die with a rookie making a lot of mistakes as he did in 2009. Some of Rex’s comments after the Titans game definitely gave off that impression.

If Rex was given a contract extension and the job security that goes with it, there would be no concern with starting Geno all year and living with the ups and downs. There would be no talk of Matt Simms or how the team needs a “game manager” like Brady Quinn or someone to step in (which is, was, and will always be a ridiculous suggestion). Rex would be willing to live with all of the mistakes because he knows a game-losing interception wouldn’t mean he’s about to lose his job. There would also be no forcing things on Geno or asking him to do things he isn’t ready to do at this stage of his development. Let the kid grow and give Rex the job security to be ok with allowing him to do it at his own pace. This is important.

His Record – There’s also the little matter of his record being pretty darn good as a Head Coach that can’t be overlooked. In 4+ seasons as the man in charge of the Jets, Rex has a record of 41-34, which includes a 4-2 postseason record and two trips to the AFC Championship game. There are a lot of NFL coaches that would kill to have a track record like that. The fact is that Rex is the best coach the Jets have had since.. I don’t even know. Since Weeb Ewbank?! The only coach in the last FORTY YEARS since Weeb left that could even be compared to Rex is Bill Parcells, and he hasn’t been here since 1999. That’s pretty depressing, actually. Anyway, the point is that Rex is a very good coach and he should get the credit he deserves for that. We’ve had to deal with a lot of crappy coaches over the years as Jets fans, but the team finally got it right when they hired Rex. They can’t mess it up now and lose him.

Players Love Him – This is something that absolutely can’t be disputed. The Jets players love Rex Ryan and they play hard for him. Even when things are down in the dumps for the Jets, the players go out there and give it everything they have for him. There is no quitting or throwing in the towel with a Rex Ryan-coached team and we’ve seen that even as 2012 was going right into the toilet.

Even when disgruntled former players like Ladainian Tomlinson bash the organization to try and further their pathetic media careers, you never hear them say a bad word about Rex Ryan. Bart Scott (who is great on TV) loves Rex and agrees he should get a contract extension. Damien Woody (also great on TV) has had nothing but great things to say about Rex as well. And that’s not to mention the things the current players say.

Calvin Pace has been outspoken on numerous occasions about how much the team respects and loves playing for Rex as has Antonio Cromartie. And you can also see what a great job Rex has done motivating his players with the “Nobody believes in us” card throughout 2013. When a player like Pace says “Everybody is like ‘Shit on the Jets. We believe in Rex. We believe in each other.” following a huge win, you can see how much they want Rex to be their coach and that they’re willing to do whatever he asks of them. When you look around the league and see players give up on coaches like Greg Schiano and Ron Rivera (and Tom Coughlin?), you appreciate having a guy like Rex around.

Rex 2.0 – As I wrote back in April, this offseason Rex became a new man. He toned things down with his bold statements and started giving the media nothing juicy in his press conferences. He hired a respected offensive coordinator and handed him the keys to the car while he went back to what he does best, and so far the results have been extremely encouraging. Rex may seem like a different man these days, and maybe in a lot of ways he is, but deep down he’s still the same guy and that’s the man that the players see behind closed doors. He’s still the same guy that the players would run through a wall for, and he’s still the same terrific coach who got a team quarterbacked by Mark Sanchez to two straight AFC Championship games.

The only difference is that Rex has evolved, as all good coaches do. The media and many “experts” interpreted this as a bad thing for some reason and thought it meant he wasn’t the right man for the job anymore. I couldn’t disagree more, and John Idzik shouldn’t wait til after the season to do the right thing and give Rex Ryan a contract extension. Rex has earned it, and he’s the man that should be leading the Jets in 2014 and beyond.

Too many times you see terrific coaches have some success in their first go-round as a Head Coach, get fired after a rough patch, and then go on to flourish elsewhere after they’ve evolved as a coach and had a chance to really get things right. We saw this happen with Bill Belichick in New England, Tom Coughlin with the Giants, and Mike Shanahan in Denver. Well, Rex has reached that “second phase” of his career, and the Jets are lucky that he didn’t have to go to another team to do it. He’s a Jet now and he should be a Jet going forward. It’s time for Idzik to do what needs to be done: Extend Rex Now.

  • Harold

    I agree with the article that Rx should be extended. He is maturing and getting much better. Two areas where I believe if he gets betetr we can win a Super Bowl (not predicting one this year for the record).

    1) Less emotion in game. Especially when challenging calls and calling blitzes in short yardage situations. If a team has to go more than 5 yards it is a good call but when they need less than that it is hard to stop someone from getting two or three yards in the air.

    2) Not speaking out loud in the media about options he has not thought through. Such as the silly wrist band idea. They force players to answer questions they don’t need to.

    If he can master his emotions in game and further sharpen his PR skills we can really help foster an environment of consistent success. Here is to rooting for Rex to continue to evolve.

  • KAsh

    If it did not happen in the offseason, it will not happen five weeks into the season. Idzik is too cautious on something like this. Idzik will evaluate Rex until he is sure they can work well together. Plus, with Sanchez having season-ending surgery, there is no more pressure on Geno. No matter how awful he plays this year, it is stupid to bench him for Simms or Quinn and expect a jump in production.

  • shibby

    has Coples slow start left him off of your list?

  • Lidman

    The heck with Idzik. Woody should step up and say, I told you he had to be here for a year, and now I’m telling you he needs to be here.

    On another note, w/loss of A Barnes, I think NYJ should call Aaron Maybin. Now, not being privy to how he was viewed in locker room, or if he left on bad terms, I simply think he could replicate the success he had here in 2011, when he led team in Sacks. Like Barnes he has great burst off the edge, and brought a lot of energy. His problem is he’s a 1 trick pony and opposing OLs could easily nullify him, even when the NYJ tried to move him, because there wasn’t a significant threat elsewhere that required a double team.

  • Drew

    For the same reason Rex wasn’t fired before the season, he will not be extended this week. It is a knee-jerk reaction. He has a short week to prepare for a team that is coming off a bye. We don’t need him dealing with contract extension talks this year.

    Idzik is not loading the deck against Rex. The guy drafted him 2 defensive prospects in the first round and Geno in the second. Two of those three are a big reason that we are where we are.

    Rex had better get his extension eventually, but not right this second. Don’t give legs to the “Rex vs. Idzik” narrative that Mehta has been trying to start all offseason- it is ridiculous.

  • Lidman

    Mehta must hate Idzik as he cut off his life line to the LR…

  • __fense

    Note that Rex Ryan is under contract for 2014 anyway. The only way he isn’t our coach next year is if he resigns or gets fired, and an extension won’t make either of those things more or less likely.

  • Frank Antonelli

    There is a point here that 2 playoffs (AFGCG losses) in 4 years is way above average for NFL head coaches. Even his down years 8-8, 6-10 are not disasters by NFL standards. They are disasters by NY media standards who thinks everything should be like the late 90’s yankees or it’s a failure. But in other NFL towns they’d kill for 8-8. In NY it’s a disaster. That much is true, this job is harder than most. Bill Cowher would not have made it through 13 years before getting a playoff win like he did in Pittsburgh. He’d have been fired in year 4 and people would talk about him like they talk about Dave Wannstadt.

    I’m not a Jets management disciple, I’m not a delusional fan, and I’m not a paranoid Jets fan either. But something has to be said about what has gone on the past year or so. I have never, in all of my years of following sports have ever seen one team targeted with the relentless media assault, criticism (fair and foul), negative stories, ridicule, and media propaganda that the Jets have been targeted with in recent months. Not even the 2007 Patriots or the 2010-2011 Miami Heat, two of the most hated teams in sports, have been hit as hard and as relentlessly as the Jets have. This is a situation that I think is truly unprecedented. The Jets have received more airtime this off season in my estimation than the defending super bowl champion Ravens.

    I’m simply disgusted by what the media has been trying to do to this franchise and how unfair it all is. Rex Ryan has one losing season in 4 years and judging by the media talk, you would think he went 1-15 every year! The Jets have been more quiet the past two years than they were in 2009 and 2010, and yet the media assault has only increased.

    Throughout the off season I have had to stomach hearing unfair critcism after unfair criticism. No matter what Rex does, he cannot win in the eyes of the media, he might very well be the most despised figure in the NFL in terms of negative media stories. But what is this based on? Rex since he started coaching with the Jets has more playoff victories than Bill Belichick, and a better regular season record than Tom Coughlin in that same timeframe. He has one losing season in 4 years in spite of having less talent on his roster than his competition. Even during the losing season he was still in playoff contention late into the season. Rex has his downsides yes, but the media making him out to be the Ryan Leaf of head coaches. With the amount of critcism Rex has received you would think he is the coach of the New York Yankees where it’s championship or bust every year. Let’s not forget Rex is the coach of the New York Jets where in his short time here has surpassed the success of Parcells and any coach this franchise has had since Weeb. Does the media not know this? Or is it that they simply don’t care? Are many in the media simply intent on destroying this man? I’m starting to think this is a real possibility.

    For those of you who buy into the media propaganda which essentially boils down to a primitive “me no like Rex, me want Rex fired” ask yourselves what direction this franchise will go in if you get your wish. If Rex is gone after this year, you will be stuck with scraping the bottom of the barrel staring at unknown faces who may not have expertise on even one side of the ball let alone both.

    In my opinion we shouldn’t even be having this discussion; if it wasn’t for the media constantly drilling this into our heads, it wouldn’t even be a discussion right now. How many coaches out there seem to have more job security than Rex in the eyes of the media while performing at a pitiful level far far worse than any negative you pick out of the Rex regime?

    To end this, let me just bring it back to where I started. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life; this might be hyperbole, but I believe brutal dictators would benefit from studying how the media has effectively crafted propaganda and created a mytho-history surrounding the Jets in the past year or so, they’ve re-written history and turned the Rex regime into public enemy number one. This is unprecedented and the lows some in the media will go to SHOULD shock me, but they don’t anymore, because I’m too used to it with the coverage of this team.

    Thank God the Jets are making all these media haters eat CROW this year. Rex will prove all the haters and fake Jet fans wrong.

  • joeydefiant

    no point in saying anything else this article and frank said it all.

  • matr dontelli iii

    nice job, frank. i agree rex should be extended. i’ve said all along i don’t think the duck is nearly as lame as those who are discussing his alleged lameness. i don’t think idzik will be extending him right away but i could see it happening during their off-week. (they are not advancing a round. it is not a bye) i wouldn’t be shocked if rex refused until after the season. there is no limit to what this team can do this season. as the mistakes decrease the scores could very well start to become lop-sided. I’ve been saying since april that with decent quarterback play this team can make the playoffs. i also said after week two don’t be surprised to see this team at 4-2 in four weeks.

  • JT

    Thanks Frank. One tidbit I would like to add to further prove your point… Where are the circus jokes and unrelenting media ridicule for the 0-5 NY Giants? 2 time super bowl MVP throws 12 INTs in 5 games.. crickets. Rookie QB from Big 12 WV has 11 total TOs in 5 games… media suggests he should be replaced by a noodle arm who couldn’t even start in college. Bias much?

  • Kimon

    This is the most honest on point article I have read about my team all year. Thanks

  • David

    I know I will get bashed for this, but Rex Ryan quite honestly isn’t much different than Eric Mangini or Herm Edwards were. Say what you will about Mangini, if the Jets don’t dump down the stretch in his 3rd year (after the 8-3 start), who is to say Mangini may not still be here? He also had a playoff appearance

    As for Herm Edwards, I believe this guy doesn’t get enough credit during his tenure. He did something Rex hasn’t done (Won the AFC East). With Herm, if Pennington was healthy, the Jets were in the playoffs and if not for Doug Brien, would have made the AFC Championship game as well.

    I like Rex, but make no mistake about it, the past two years there has been more controversy under that man’s watch than any other team in the NFL. And make no mistake about it, last year’s team GAVE UP on Rex Ryan and the NY Jets. Watching them last year against San Diego and Buffalo, that had to be the most hapless, “Run for the bus” performances I have ever seen.

    Yes, the Jets are 3-2 right now, but let’s not get carried away. Will you still right about how great Geno and Rex are if the Jets lose the next 4 games before the bye against Pittsburgh, New England, Cincinnati, and New Orleans and the team is 3-6? This is one of those “Let’s get ahead of ourselves” articles.

  • John C

    I agree with everyone that wants Rex to stay, and with most of Frank a’s take on the Jets (you would think they’ve been the worst team in football the last 5 years). But, I wouldn’t worry about extending him now – let’s keep everyone hungry and fighting for respect. If the players think they saved his job already, they may also start to feel they’ve accomplished something already (we’ve seen what happens with the “satisfied” Jets). There is no need to act, and I don’t think Rex will walk, so I’d say ride it out for the year.

  • mike

    @david
    last year’s jets had no chance from the very beginning because tony sparano put together the worst offense i’ve seen in my entire life. the defense, even with slow linebackers, no revis, and no pass rusher, kept the team in playoff contention until those final two games you mentioned. to hold last season against rex is silly. sparano’s offense was putrid and nonsensical, and off the top of my head i can’t think of any other HC in the league that would’ve squeezed six wins out of that squad.

  • mikeM

    Mangini and Herm????
    ROFL

  • KAsh

    @David

    You might have had a point, if you were arguing for anyone other than Mangini. The guy was a nightmare. His approach to coaching was unsustainable, demoralizing, and led to collapse at the first crack in the barricade. Rex’s teams have outperformed expectations for five years now (I include 2012 because that roster should have netted the first pick in the draft). Mangini can improve a team for one year or two, until things fall apart once again. F@%# Mangini!

  • Andrew

    Excellent Post Frank , I couldn’t agree more. I have been saying the same thing to anyone who would listen since training camp, it’s as if you have stolen my words like Manish ..

    Well done !

  • NYShepinFL

    Great post Frank. Its been absolutely appalling the amount of negative media we’ve dealt with over really the past 2 years. Frank said it all somehow they’ve made us the worst thing going. I truly truly truly don’t get it. My friends (a lot of em Bucs fans) have really cooled it down. But anytime I say im a Jets fan the initial response is “the Jets”, laughter, jokes or an immediate response along those lines. Im glad we doing our thing so far this year and doing it our way. The way of Ryan. We better not fire Sexy Rexy, it would be dumb and most likely opens back up the flood gates for whats been a very unprofessional media. Lastly I cant stand fake Jet fans talking bout tank the season. You can find a lot of em on the jets forum on prosportsdaily.com. Jet Nation stand up

  • John X

    Great article – I concur 100%. It would be a bold and smart move. The direction is going upward – don’t rock it by firing your head coach and most likely losing your OCoord and setting the team back a few years. It’s a good young team that Idzik has helped develop and will have a greater opportunity to do so this offseason and no better way than to maintain a returning coaching staff that can succeed.

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