By Kimberly Jones
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We will learn in the coming days whether Rex Ryan remains the head coach of the New York Jets. And if he does not, we will know that Ryan never had a chance.
Because this is a football team that was expected to do little — except, perhaps, embarrass itself — and win a handful of games. Maybe.
The Jets have six wins, including over the Patriots and Saints, and have dealt again with the annual onslaught of turnovers at the quarterback position. Except there is one difference: Geno Smith is learning on the job. Those close to him in the locker room believe he will grow, and improve significantly, because of his rookie growing pains.
But will Ryan be around as Smith’s coach?
“I believe this team is going in the right direction,” Ryan said.
The question is whether first-year general manager John Idzik agrees. And if owner Woody Johnson, who’s always been in Ryan’s corner, concurs.
According to sources close to both men, it is both perception and reality that Idzik and Ryan have a strong working relationship. Is that relationship strong enough for Ryan to withstand the Jets’ third non-winning season in a row? (That hasn’t happened since the mid-1990s.) Are those back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances too far in the rearview mirror?
Ryan has maintained all season that he doesn’t think about job security. Not on the way to the office, not after a loss.
“Nope,” he told the media this week, “not until you guys bring it up.”
Ryan has never had a proven quarterback to work with. His defenses have been his calling card; this year’s is ranked 12th overall, including 26th against the pass. But trading Darrelle Revis was an organizational decision, not Ryan’s. As was going with a rookie quarterback after David Garrard’s bizarre spring retirement (he later returned) and Mark Sanchez’s season-ending shoulder injury.
So, as Christmas week is upon us, we are 10 days — and counting — from Black Monday in the NFL. Ryan shouldn’t be a coaching casualty that day. And, if he is, we’ll know it would have taken a miracle this season for him to truly save his job.
The Doppler Radar: Maybe it was the snow in Philadelphia during the Lions-Eagles game. Maybe that triggered the obsession with the weather forecast on Super Bowl Sunday. Or maybe it was inevitable, regardless.
But doesn’t it seem that any conversation about Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium has to begin and end with the weather? It’s a requirement.
The NFL, led by commissioner Roger Goodell, has made no secret that snow would be welcome for the game. We sat with Goodell recently for a Q&A in Manhattan, and he clearly left the impression that he wouldn’t mind a winter wonderland that day.
We’re not necessarily of the same mindset, but let’s put it this way: No weather situation in the metropolitan area that week — unless it is an unprecedented blizzard — will compare to Super Bowl XLV in Dallas, when the city was paralyzed by an ice storm and hotels were left without heat amid freezing temperatures.
Because in New Jersey and New York, we will at least be prepared.
In fact, the league announced this week that fans attending the game will find a “Warm Welcome” kit in their seat cushion, including hand warmers, ear muffs, a hand muffler, lip balm and tissues. That’s nice.
More importantly, the league revealed this week there are contingency plans where kickoff could be delayed a couple of hours. Or moved to Saturday, Monday or even Tuesday.
Really, six weeks before the Super Bowl, any weather forecast is guesswork. (We know, weather forecasts often seem to be guesswork.) But at least there are alternative plans in place, and 821 trucks and 60,000 tons of salt in New Jersey at the ready.
Fateful words: After the Giants were eliminated, Victor Cruz noted how unusual it felt to be playing out the string on this disaster of a season.
“But you just have to continue to play football and continue to stay positive and finish the season strong,” Cruz said. “And keep everyone healthy and do the right things from a football standpoint and cherish the small moment that we have together and keep it going from there.”
And then, last Sunday, Cruz was concussed and injured his left knee while making a catch – ruled an incompletion after review – against Seattle. Cruz was cleared of the concussion early this week but underwent arthroscopic Thursday in Florida. He is expected to be 100 percent well in time for the 2014 season. But, really, isn’t this indicative of how the entire Giants season has gone?
Get your popcorn ready: How much do we love our football? The league bragged, understandably so, this week that 30 of the 31 most-watched television shows since Labor Day are NFL games. And an NFL game has been No. 1 in viewership in all 15 weeks of the season. Don’t expect that to change in the final two weeks, as many playoff spots remain up for grabs. Just as the league, which loves parity, likes it.
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