It seems like certain people just want to look for a quick fix or simply find a scapegoat, and neither line of thinking is logical in the least bit. But those are the only lines of thinking used in arguments supporting the potential firing of New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, which was reported last week. Ryan is touted as one of the game’s most brilliant defensive minds, and that touting isn’t without merit. I mean, his great defenses caused the Jets to make it to two AFC Championship games with Thomas Jones as their best offensive weapon and Mark Sanchez as their starting quarterback.
Despite some of the hot seat talk, the 2013 season has been one of Rex Ryan’s finest, because I don’t think anybody expected the Jets to be this competitive. Just take a look at his resume with the Jets solely this season. They came into the year in rebuild-mode with a rookie QB, a rookie GM, and were in the discussion as one of the teams that could potentially have the No. 1 pick in 2014. In reality, they are somehow 7-8, and they have outperformed their statistically expected win-loss rate by a significant margin, which usually points to great coaching.
And how else could anything but great coaching guide this Jets team to seven wins? They upset the likes of the New England Patriots (when they lost the first meeting, they played them very tough and New Orleans Saints, and they have the league’s best run defense. Ryan has had to overcome uneven quarterback play from his rookie starter, a dearth of talent at the wide receiver position, and frustratingly bad coverage in his secondary.
Ryan is clearly a coach that players love playing for, and that shouldn’t be lost when evaluating Ryan as a head coach. Charisma and the ability to motivate players is important, and that’s what helped make coaches like Vince Lombardi so great. Obviously Ryan is no Lombardi, but he’s a solid head coach and significantly better than plenty of coaches out there. I mean, do you really think Bill O’Brien and Lovie Smith are better? Those two are nice options on the free-agent market, but why create a vacancy when you don’t need one? Why try to fix something that isn’t broken? Why break continuity for unknown commodities that probably aren’t better? Why fire Rex Ryan?
Seriously, why do people want Ryan to be fired? Because seven wins isn’t good enough for them? Heck, with Jeremy Kerley as your best receiver, Antonio Cromartie flopping, and Geno Smith having major rookie troubles with turnovers, seven wins is excellent in the first year of a retooling year for the Jets. Without Ryan, this team would be in the four-to-five win range, because they just aren’t talented enough. If you look at what they did this offseason, they were trying to purge out Mike Tannenbaum’s bad contracts and were running against cap trouble. How do you fire the head coach of a team that had to cut some corners due to cap issues?
I just can’t see the logic in firing Rex Ryan, because he is the main reason why the New York Jets weren’t awful this season and why they made it to two AFC Championship games. They weren’t talented enough to get there, but Ryan is great at coaching on defense and motivating his players. If he has a strong quarterback, then they sky’s the limit.
We always talk about the importance of franchise quarterbacks, and that raises a question that I find very interesting. The Jets haven’t had a franchise QB since Chad Pennington, so it’s safe to say that Ryan hasn’t coached a legit quarterback. Sanchez? He definitely doesn’t count. With the importance of the quarterback position in mind, how can you properly evaluate a head coach who has never been given a true franchise QB? How can you properly evaluate a head coach who has constantly lived under the pressure of the New York media, of his bosses (if you’ll notice, he’s forced to take the fall for them a lot during press conference), and of bad decisions from the previous GM? Most of his success in New York has been self-made, and Ryan’s good coaching has been invaluable this season for the Jets; it could have been a lot rockier.
It’s far too easy to pin things on the head coach, and I think that’s why people like to sling mud at the coach and blame him. It’s definitely more convenient, but it definitely isn’t right either. Hopefully the Jets don’t run their organization on simplistic grounds, especially since there’s a lot more to “blame” than Rex Ryan. Heck, how spoiled do they think they are? What team fires their head coach after improving their record, even though they signified a rebuild in the offseason? No respectable team would do that, and the Jets would immediately lose respect by firing Ryan. How attractive would this gig look to other coaches if Ryan were fired? Would a guy like Lovie Smith want to step into a position with this lack of stability?
Seven wins isn’t bad at all for a team that could have easily won half of that due to their lack of talent. Instead of blaming the coach, analyze the situation. I realize that the majority of fans don’t believe that Ryan should be fired, and the Jets are thankfully starting to realize that it wouldn’t be the wisest course of action.