New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan sounded rather subdued in his post game press conference after the team’s 23-17 loss to the Houston Texans Monday. This is not the Ryan we have seen over the last three years. This is a coach who sounds like he is searching for answers to get his team on track.
When Ryan came to New York in 2009 he vowed to get the Jets to a Super Bowl. He immediately challenged the AFC East kingpin New England Patriots and their head coach Bill Belichick. In 2010 and 2011 he proclaimed New York as the best team in the NFL and Super Bowl contenders. All of this sold newspapers, created internet traffic, and kept the ESPN machine rolling.
Despite having only a 28-20 record after three season, Ryan did come close to getting the Jets to a Super Bowl. In 2009 the team went 9-7 and earned the sixth and last playoff spot. New York proceeded to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers to advance to the AFC title game. There they lost to the Indianapolis Colts. In 2010 the Jets finished 11-5 and earned another wildcard spot. They defeated the Colts and Patriots before losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the title game.
With a break here or there the Jets could have very well given Big Apple football fans another Super Bowl title to go along with the two won by the New York Giants in 2007 and last year
This may have given Ryan more confidence in his team than it warranted. The 2010 Jets won many games after trailing in the fourth quarter. In 2011 they did not and finished 8-8. They lost to the Giants in a week 16 showdown which seemed to energize the G-men and take the life out of the Jets.
This season the team brought in quarterback Tim Tebow from the Denver Broncos. It was expected that Tebow would run some plays as a quarterback and tailback and back up Mark Sanchez. If Sanchez struggled then Tebow might be called on to run the offense.
Tebow has not played much quarterback. Sanchez and the offense has struggled. The Jets look like a team unsure of what it wants to do. In Ryan’s first three season they had success with the running game while Sanchez matured. This season it looks as though they are torn between running and letting Sanchez throw more. Losing wide receiver Santonio Holmes to a foot injury has not helped as New York does not have any big play receivers.
The defense has not held up their end of the bargain as teams have run through and over them. The San Francisco 49ers ran for 245 yards in week four. Texans running back Arian Foster ran for 152 on Monday night.
All of this has Ryan looking and sounding subdued. He is not the same braggadocio coach who arrived in 2009.
He is a man searching for answers that knows time is running out to find them.