The New York Jets unlikely roller coaster ride to December relevancy came to an end yesterday with a Baltimore win. Understandably, the focus of the fan-base has already shifted to the offseason. WIth over $40 million in cap space and a full stock of draft picks, change is inevitable. However, much of the conversation has switched to Rex Ryan and the Jets future at head coach. The debate over wether Rex remains the head man of the franchise will dominate the landscape until a decision is made, one way or another. While John Idzik and Woody Johnson have likely already made their decision, it is important for the public to understand the debate, the reasoning, behind the impending decision. With that in mind, we at Turn On the Jets offer an argument/counter-argument format to best expound the various cases. Dalbin Osorio will argue in favor of extending Rex Ryan and Cole Patterson will argue for change.
For further reading on the head coaching debate, see Joe Caporoso and Dan Marcus‘ inspired debate: The Future Is Bright But Should Rex Ryan Be Part Of It?
Arguments Against Rex’s Return:
Cole: Rex doesn’t develop talent and, therefore, is not the right guy to develop a young QB.
Dalbin: When we discuss other franchises, the individual development of a player is not assigned to their position coaches. It is, instead, attributed to the head coach. Under that logic, Rex has overseen the development of: Jeremy Kerley, Bilal Powell, Austin Howard, Matt Slauson, Demario Davis, Antonio Allen, Darrelle Revis, Mo Wilkerson, Ledger Douzable, Damon Harrison, Sheldon Richardson, Quentin Coples, Kenrick Ellis. That’s a very talented bunch. It is lopsided on defense, for sure, but to say that he has failed to develop talent is just incorrect.
Cole: Rex’s teams are 1-13 in their last 14 games after a win, a sure sign that they can’t handle prosperity and are inconsistent.
Dalbin: The Jets were 7-2 after wins in 2009, 9-4 after wins in 2010, 3-3 after wins in 2011, 1-5 in 2012, and 0-6 so far this year. For his career, Rex’s teams are 20-20 after wins, a .500 record. His ability to string together back to back wins can be directly attributed to the Jets talent level. The Jets had more talent in Rex’s first three season as head coach, so it was easier to overcome the deficiencies at the quarterback position. However, the play of Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith was compounded by a loss of talent on both sides of the ball and made it extremely difficult to be consistent. This year, the Jets are an inexperienced team (starting five rookies). Despite their expected struggles, Rex has won. If Idzik can renew the talent level on the Jets, there is no reason to think that Rex can’t get back to his winning ways.
Cole: The Jets have tuned Rex out. A young team like the Jets needs a disciplinarian to ensure accountability.
Dalbin: The Jets will undoubtedly bring in veteran talent for 2014. Willie Colon stood up and said that Rex was the reason he signed with the Jets. Bart Scott, Ed Reed, Jim Leonherd, Ladainian Tomlinson, Derrick Mason, and a host of others have cited Rex as their reason for choosing the Jets. Before Rex got here, you couldn’t pay guys enough money to sign here. Rex has made the Jets a desirable team to play for. That trait cannot be overstated entering an offseason that will see Idzik armed with $40-50M in cap space and a cabinet full of draft picks. You want a guy that players want to play for. Rex is that guy.
Arguments For Rex’s Return:
Dalbin: Rex is a defensive genius and not bringing him back will set the defense back drastically.
Cole: Rex Ryan is one of the most brilliant defensive minds in the game today. He can scheme around defensive weaknesses and highlight an individual player’s strengths. However, the Jets have declined in total defense every year under Ryan: 1st in 2009, 3rd in 2010, 5th in 2011, 8th in 2012, and finally 12th in 2013. There is no absolute reason behind this decline but it must be acknowledged. There are plenty of defensive coordinators out there who can keep the Jets defense middling (which they are now). If Ryan’s best attribute has become a non factor, in a league where offense wins the day, perhaps it is time for a philosophical change at head coach.
Dalbin: Ryan brought the team to Two AFC championship games, minutes from the Super Bowl. He can do it again.
Cole: Ryan came to New York and completely rejuvenated and rebranded a struggling franchise. He brought an attitude to the Jets that had been missing for an eternity. His exotic blitz packages confounded offenses and a dominant O-line helped move the chains. They almost road the ground and pound train all the way. The next year, the Jets had an upgraded passing attack with Santonio Holmes and Ladanian Tomlinson and made it to within five points of a Super Bowl.
After a 20-12 record in Ryan’s first two season, the Jets have gone 20-26 in the last three. In each of those three years, the Jets have missed the playoffs. The reasons for this decline are plentiful but what it comes down to is offensive ineptitude. Ryan has failed to prove himself capable of developing an offense and, as the 2011-2013 Jets validate, offense wins games. The defense can be absolutely dominant but if the offense doesn’t put up points, it is all for naught.
Dalbin: The hiring of a new coaching staff is tedious and rebuilding can take years. Let Rex keep working with what he built.
Cole: The process of rebuilding a team is difficult and it seems like the Jets have been doing so for decades. However, if Idzik and Johnson are convinced that Ryan cannot continue to win in New York, there is no point in holding on. Yes, there are some good pieces in place but Ryan has not won with them. The Jets have had moderate success but have nothing to show for it. They have not consistently improved. In fact, they have gotten worse. Ryan has been giving many chances but, for whatever reason, has failed to field a winner in three seasons. There is something to be said for continuity but if your head coach isn’t winning you games, it is time for a change.