By Kristian Dyer
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It is time for the Jets to belly up to the bar alongside their head coach, who has already been there for awhile.
He is, of course, arguably the most controversial head coach in the NFL. Affable, gregarious and with a bent for the outlandish, the oft-quotable and yet rarely imitated Rex Ryan now faces perhaps the most difficult coaching job of his NFL career. His Jets are 3-5 right now, and they enter a stretch of games in which they must win nearly every time they take the field. A loss and their chances at the playoffs take a severe hit.
The Jets must play nearly flawlessly to make the playoffs, but they should also play flawlessly for a coach who has never stopped believing in them. Earlier this week, the Sporting News released a poll of NFL players who far and away named Ryan the most overrated head coach in the league. A coach who has never stopped believing in his team now needs to show the rest of the league that they’re wrong about Rex.
Say what you will about Ryan — his style, personality or his success in the league — but he’s a coach who never once has wavered in his belief in his team. Right or wrong, in bounds or out of bounds, on or off the field, he’s the one coach in the league who passionately embraces his team through every fault and every misstep.
Now his team needs to do the same.
Ryan might be the most overrated coach in the league, but that may not be his fault. After all, his personality is out there a bit, and being in the pressure cooker that is New York only exacerbates and magnifies his every goof or “gotchya” moment. He doesn’t have much of a filter, which doesn’t help matters. But one thing he does is care about his team – often to a fault. At 3-5, the Jets had better step up for him as he always has for them.
He isn’t a perfect coach and there have been plenty of mistakes made in what is now his fourth year with the team. But with Ryan on the sidelines, the Jets seem always to be somewhat in the mix in terms of the postseason. It was the force of his personality that carried the team to consecutive AFC Championship Games in his first two years in New York, and it was Ryan who took all the blame for last year’s debacle where the team splintered apart.
He’s always had his players in mind with everything he says and does – sometimes to a fault, as he takes too much heat for their mistakes, miscues and poor judgment.
But he does that because he cares, and it will be seen on Sunday if his team cares just as much about him. This is a coach who cried in front of his team in 2009 after a loss that he thought knocked the Jets out of the race for the postseason, and this is a coach who has taken all of the blame after blowout losses when he clearly wasn’t the only problem.
Now, his team must repay the man who has done nothing but love them.
Their game in Seattle won’t be easy, not against a Seahawks team that is likely good enough to make their second postseason appearance in three years, but the Jets must overcome the odds. They’re depleted with injuries, they’ve lost star power and they’ve had a rough start to the season. There is every reason for them to hang their heads and pack it in and ride out the season — just wave the white flag and call it a day.
But that isn’t what their head coach has done, as he talked about meeting the challenge and playing with their backs against the wall. In a week where their head coach was nationally embarrassed with poll results, they must rally behind Ryan and carry him into the playoffs. They must have his back in this fight.
After all, he’s always had theirs.
Kristian R. Dyer covers the Jets for Metro New York. He can be followed on Twitter for news, insight, snarky comments and breaking Jets news here.
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