By Jason Keidel
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The Jets fans flooding local hospitals, limbs snapped from tumbling off the bandwagon, are back in their full-throated glory behind Sunday’s convincing win over the Oakland Raiders.
Beating another woeful football team isn’t a hallmark victory or the flashpoint of some resurgence. But the Jets, despite myriad media assertions, were never out of the wild-card hunt.
And the fact that Gang Green is still on the playoff periphery says so much about them in ways that the normal rigid, frigid metrics used to measure success can’t detect. Indeed, the Jets are strongest in a most malleable muscle.
We all gave the Jets four or five wins in August. Then they gave us 5-4, including wins over New England and New Orleans, two NFL titans who are a combined 20-6. Then the Jets fell in a serious funk, getting crushed by Baltimore, Buffalo and Miami.
As the cliché goes, all teams look like they tank when they get torched. But the Jets never quit. They can play dumb, but they never play dead. And that is a tribute to Rex Ryan, who still hasn’t lost his team.
It’s widely felt that these last three games are a referendum on Ryan’s tenure and future with the Jets, despite Woody Johnson’s tepid support, the ever-ominous “vote of confidence.” These last three games will be tough, with or without a contract extension.
Frankly, Ryan deserves another round. What exactly has Ryan worked with this year? John Idzik has imposed his will but not very much skill, particularly on offense.
There have been several games during which Geno Smith has set quarterback play back to the single wing. Going into Sunday’s game, Smith had eight touchdowns and 23 turnovers. Those of us who clamored for his benching are getting the business on Monday, but he was brutal for three weeks, and perhaps sitting just for those 30 minutes was the precise panacea he needed.
But even when the offense was at its most offensive, the team played hard for the HC of the NYJ. When presented with the perfect opportunity to fold, they fought. And if that’s not on Ryan, then whom? Despite their recent, schizophrenic seasons, Ryan is by far the most successful coach in franchise history. And his voice still resonates.
You can tell when a team has quit on the coach. In fact, you need only look at Washington, where there’s a rather unholy trinity in the Redskins’ organization. There are reports of envy, fear, favoritism, back-biting, backstabbing and perhaps an eighth coach in Dan Snyder’s troubled tenure as Redskins owner.
If someone told you that the first week of December would find one New York football team still in the playoff chase, 99 percent of us would have picked the Giants, who had a clock hung on their walls counting down to February’s Super Bowl. We see how that went, particularly in San Diego.
The Jets, for all their inherent dysfunction, are a relatively stable club this year, which flies in the face of all logic, which kind of makes sense for a historically illogical franchise.
Give Ryan more than a vote. Give him a contract.
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