NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The so-called foregone conclusion that was Rex Ryan losing his job at season’s end isn’t so foregone anymore. There’s been a groundswell of support of late for the embattled head coach, who by many accounts has been left out to dry this season by his general manager.
The Jets were 2-8 heading into their Monday night contest against the Buffalo Bills in Detroit. Ryan has lost 29 of his last 45 regular season games. The Jets almost certainly are going to miss the playoffs for a fourth straight season. All three are perfectly legitimate reasons to fire a head coach in what is a bottom-line league.
Yet, to many, Ryan is viewed as more a victim than a cause of the Jets’ problems this season. Just ask his players.
“He’s been totally committed,” veteran offensive lineman Willie Colon told the Daily News. “He’s taken a lot. He’s done everything to try to put this team on his back as a coach to take the heat, to take the bullets, to take the criticism. So I see him giving his all and I support that.”
“I don’t like him taking the fall, because he’s not out there trying to make the plays,” defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson added. “We’re in the right positions… I’m always good with the game plan.”
The Jets opened the season with a 19-14 home win over the Oakland Raiders, but then proceeded to lose eight in a row, and often looked non-competitive in doing so. They finally snapped their skid two weeks ago when they upset the Pittsburgh Steelers, 20-13 at MetLife Stadium.
To many, the Jets’ struggles this season have been attributed to two things — the failure of second-year quarterback Geno Smith to take his game to the next level, and the failure of GM John Idzik to adequately supply Ryan with the cornerbacks he needs to run the defense he’s perfected.
With the prevailing thought coming into the season being Ryan needing to make the playoffs in order to keep his job, it’s hard to imagine him not wanting to play veteran Michael Vick, especially when Smith went south early in the season. Yet, it can be speculated, Smith was given every opportunity to keep his job, and then some, because Idzik drafted him.
As for the secondary, the Jets passed on or were beaten out on the open market for several players that could have made a big difference over the revolving door of corners used this season. Idzik’s signing of volatile Dmitri Patterson proved to be a disaster as he was released before the season started, and even before then Ryan was looking at a rotation including second-year and oft-injured Dee Milliner and third-round pick Dexter McDougle. Both ended up getting knocked out for the season early by injuries.
And perhaps more than not going the extra mile on the veteran corners in free agency, Idzik was heavily criticized for letting proven Jet Antonio Cromartie walk and not re-engaging veteran Darrelle Revis, who more than one report suggested wanted to return to the Jets, but ended up with the archrival New England Patriots.
As a result of all of the blunders, the Jets have been unable to get anything started, and saw season their season disintegrate before it was even half over.
The players, however, seem to be a united front as far as Ryan is concerned.
“My gut feeling? Yeah,” Richardson said, when asked if he believes Ryan will return next season. “Even though it’s dark and gloomy, I strongly do feel like that. We’ll see, though.”
Owner Woody Johnson has a gigantic decision to make. While it seems unlikely that he would fire Idzik after just two seasons when the executive didn’t get the opportunity to hire his own coach, Johnson has made it no secret his admiration for Ryan. The question is whether or not he would allow Ryan and Idzik to co-exist for another season when so many in the fan base want to see some kind of change, be it on the sideline, in the front office, or both.
Wide receiver Eric Decker said playing for Ryan has been rewarding, regardless of what the team’s record is.
“For sure, you can play for a coach,” Decker said. “Rex is a guy that’s going to treat you like a man. He’s going to respect you like a man. He’s going to tell you how it is like a man. That’s what you want — a guy that cares about you, but is going to be real with you.”
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