Far too often, fans and the media alike call for a coach’s job like someone’s livelihood isn’t at stake. Having said that, it appears to be time for the Jets and head coach Rex Ryan to part ways.
In his fifth season with the team, Ryan sports a respectable 39-37 record. Supporters of Ryan point to his success in the playoffs in 2009 and 2010 as a key factor in what he’s capable of and why they shouldn’t get rid of him just yet.
But the National Football League is very much about what you have done lately, and lately, the Jets stink.
Gang Green has won just 11 of their last 28 games and it looks like they’ll be sitting at home during the postseason for a third straight year.
While the team got off to a surprising 5-4 start this year, the Jets haven’t even been remotely competitive over the past three weeks.
It’s somewhat alarming that Ryan has failed to make any sort of adjustments -- especially considering this current mess has occurred ever since the Jets had a bye week to sit down and correct what ailed them.
Given more time to prepare, the situation has somehow gotten worse. The defensive backfield is a mess, while the offense can’t even sniff the end zone.
One of Ryan’s biggest strengths also happens to be one of his biggest weaknesses. Players love playing for him and admire his loyalty, but his inability to sit those he has close relationships has probably cost him a victory or two over the course of his career.
Despite doing absolutely nothing to earn a starting role in the first place, Ryan refuses to sit safety Ed Reed in favor of Antonio Allen.
Reed and Ryan’s relationship dates back to when Ryan served as his defensive coordinator in Baltimore. The initial idea of bringing Reed in to serve as a mentor in the locker room seemed appealing, as long he wasn’t seeing too much action.
For a young team that is building towards the future, playing a 12-year veteran who clearly has nothing left in the tank over someone just 25-years old is completely unacceptable.
Allen played well enough over the first nine games and didn’t deserve to lose his starting role, yet for a fourth straight week, Ryan has decided Reed will be the starter this Sunday.
Similarly, rookie cornerback Dee Milliner has been benched three times this season, and deservedly so, while Antonio Cromartie has looked equally terrible and continues to play regularly.
Maybe Darrin Walls and Kyle Wilson don’t share the same pedigree as Cromartie, but they are young enough to at least justify seeing an increase in playing time to see how they fare if given an opportunity.
Ryan’s decision to stick with quarterback Geno Smith for as long as he has is at least defensible given the alternative, but he hasn’t handled that situation well either.
It didn’t take a soothsayer to predict there was a decent chance Smith would struggle this past Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. Rather than activate David Garrard just in case the situation got messy and called for an experienced leader, Ryan opted to stick with just two rookies at the position and paid the consequences.
Garrard hasn’t taken a snap since 2010, so it’s not like Ryan is blessed with an embarrassment of riches at quarterback. But considering the likelihood that a contingency plan would be necessary, the lack of a fallback option was troublesome.
No one is going to accuse Ryan of grossly underachieving with the players he’s had over the past couples years, but he hasn’t exactly made the most of it.
Holding onto past glory is the worst thing a team’s fan base can do. The Jets haven’t been amongst the most winningest franchises since joining the NFL in 1970, so it’s certainly understandable why people remain in Ryan’s corner. But it’s always better to get rid of a coach a year too early rather than a year too late.
By all accounts, Ryan is a great guy and a brilliant defensive mind. Should the Jets decide to go in a different direction after the season, he would likely have no problem landing on his feet as a head coach or defensive coordinator with another team.
If he ever decided he wanted to give television a chance, he’d instantly become a steal for whichever network landed him.
As for the Jets, regardless of what happens over the next four weeks, it’s time to start fresh. There’s a new general manager in place, there’s likely to be a new starting quarterback on the roster come the 2014 season, and a new coach should be tasked with leading the team into the future.