By Steve Silverman
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Rex Ryan may be facing a nearly impossible situation.
He has lost his best and favorite players in cornerback Darelle Revis with an ACL injury, Santonio Holmes with a devastating Lisfranc injury in Week 4 against the 49ers.
The Jets are getting poor quarterback play from Mark Sanchez and playing backup Tim Tebow would be a desperation move. Running back Shonn Greene has seemingly lost his mojo and has been running ineffectively.
Tight end Dustin Keller and wideout Stephen Hill are both functional but not elite players. Both are likely to be out tomorrow night against the Houston Texans with hamstring injuries.
It looks like an impossible task for Ryan. However, injuries are simply a fact of life in the NFL and Ryan has no excuse.
One of the great things about NFL football is the one game per week aspect to the sport. It makes NFL football a coach’s sport. If a team is having problems, the coach has a full week to changes strategies and gameplans to bounce back from disasters.
That’s just what the Jets had last week against the 49ers and they could be in for a similar outcome against the Texans.
Head coach Gary Kubiak’s Texans are undefeated and they look like the team to beat in the AFC. They have one of the best quarterbacks in the game in Matt Schaub. Running back Arian Foster may be the most versatile running back in football while Andre Johnson is probably the No. 2 wide receiver in the NFL to Detroit’s Calvin Johnson when he is healthy.
On the defensive side, the Texans were so loaded that they traded Mario Williams to the Buffalo Bills in the offseason. They could afford to do that because they knew that J.J. Watt (7.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries) was on the verge of superstardom and he has continued his ascent this season.
Ryan can look himself in the mirror in his private office and cry all the tears he wants at the plight of his team. But that doesn’t relieve him of his burden to put a winning team on the field.
He has to find a way. All NFL coaches do.
That’s where Ryan may have an advantage over nearly every one of his NFL counterparts. There might be some of his colleagues that would give up under similar circumstances, but there is none of that in Ryan.
There is none of that in his brother Rob Ryan, the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive coordinator.
There was none of that in Buddy Ryan, the legendary father of this coaching duo.
The Ryans have that indomitable characteristic that nearly every football coach aspires to but few can match.
That is a very important aspect when you are coaching, but is not the only factor. You can’t just will your team to a win. The players are motivated on their own and a coach’s urgings can help, but what the team is really looking for is a workable gameplan.
Many teams have been in the Jets’ situation before. The rest of the league takes no sympathy. Sanchez has completed 44-of-101 passes in his last three games for 547 yards with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He has to get better and Ryan and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano are going to have to turn him around.
That’s where Ryan is under the most pressure. As a defensive innovator, he knows no bounds. As an offensive innovator, he has no credentials.
Sparano is a meat-and-potatoes, back-to-basics football lifer. You want clever? Coach Meatball is not your guy.
Yet the Jets are going to have to figure out to save their season.
They are limited on offense and they face a significant challenge Monday night.
The coaching staff has to come up with the right answer and must do it quickly.
Who do you think has more pressure to turn the season around, Rex Ryan and the coaching staff or Mark Sanchez and the players? Let us know in the comment section below.