FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Rex Ryan’s tenure as coach of the New York Jets could be in its final weeks.
Keep Rex or Fire Rex? Well, that depends on who you ask.
There’s one guy, though, who thinks the Jets already have the right man to lead them beyond this season.
“Of course, I believe it,” Ryan said Monday. “No question, I believe it. There’s no doubt, but again I’d rather get out of this press conference and go to work. That’s how I feel about it.”
Fans and media have taken to sports talk radio and social media with a mixed bag of opinions ranging from wanting to see Ryan get a contract extension to hoping for a coaching staff shake-up.
The Jets (6-8) clinched a third straight non-winning season — their first such stretch since 1994-96 — with a 30-20 loss at Carolina on Sunday, and were eliminated from playoff contention when Baltimore beat Detroit 18-16 on Monday night.
“The biggest thing is we don’t want to go 6-10 again,” cornerback Antonio Cromartie said.
Mistakes, uneven play by rookie quarterback Geno Smith, injuries to key players on offense and some questionable decisions have all added up to another season of struggles.
Then again, very few outside of the team expected even this much from the Jets this season.
Ryan was by no means campaigning for his job, preferring at first to dodge questions by saying he doesn’t think about his situation until reporters bring it up. But, a little of the coach’s confidence reappeared when he was asked why he believes he should be back.
“Look, I’m a competent guy, even though I know that will be questioned a zillion times forward and backward, whatever, that’s fine,” he said. “But I know I’m a good football coach. I believe in this team. I believe in this organization and I’m determined to bring a winner to this team, there’s no question about it.
“I know and I believe that I’m the right guy for it. Now again, I’m not the guy making that decision.”
Ryan has gotten no indication from his bosses about his future, and neither owner Woody Johnson nor general manager John Idzik has spoken publicly about whether the coach will be around next season. That has led to increasing speculation that Ryan could be coaching for his job during these last two weeks.
If that decision hasn’t already been made, of course.
“I’ll stand on a soapbox and say it: Rex is my coach,” said right guard Willie Colon, in his first season with the Jets after seven in Pittsburgh. “He’s one of the main reasons I came here. I love the guy to death. I love his passion, I love his heart.
“I think if he doesn’t come back, it will be a step back for us as a team.”
The fact a team that set an NFL record by alternating wins and losses for the first 10 games of the season and endured a three-game skid was still talking about the possibility of the playoffs is in many ways a credit to Ryan. There has been no quit in these Jets, even when they’ve gone into several games against opponents who were clearly superior in overall talent.
“We’re going out there and playing for Rex because he’s our head coach and we want to play hard for him and we want to win games for him,” Smith said. “He coaches us hard, he puts the time and effort in and he deserves for our team to go out and that’s what we do every single week.”
Smith was then asked if he wants Ryan to return next season.
“I love Rex,” he said. “And despite what decision is made, my feelings toward him will never change.”
This is nothing new for Ryan, whose status was uncertain after New York went 6-10 last year. Owner Woody Johnson opted to bring him back while he fired GM Mike Tannenbaum, making for a curious and unique situation when Idzik was hired and inherited a head coach.
“It’s been tremendous,” Ryan insisted of his rapport with Idzik. “I think we both want the same thing, we both want to win. From the day I met him, it was clear that’s what John wants to do. He obviously wants to build a team that’s a perennial winner.”
The question, though, remains whether Ryan will indeed continue to be part of that process.
“I think that this team is on the right path,” Ryan said. “It might not be reflective in our record right now, I understand that. But I believe this team is going in the right direction.”
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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)