The New York Jets continued their roller coaster of a season on Sunday with a 37-14 blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills, and they were outplayed and outcoached in nearly every aspect of the game. The loss dropped the Jets back to 5-5, keeping them in the pack of wild card contenders in the AFC. The Jets are now the first team in NFL history to alternate wins and losses through its first ten games, and no one is quite sure if that is a good or bad thing.
The wild inconsistency the Jets have displayed this season is something that falls heavily on the coaching staff. It is the responsibility of Rex Ryan and his staff to ensure that the team is focused and ready to play every week. The Jets have had several letdowns coming off of big wins this season, giving the impression that Ryan has failed to keep his team focused and motivated.
For this reason, it is fair to question Ryan’s job security. He was considered a lame duck coach heading into this season, and it was (and really still is) widely thought that new general manager John Idzik would like to bring in his own coach. It seems as if Ryan has earned his way off the hot seat with the Jets’ surprising start, but he is not out of the woods yet.
Of course, it is important to remember the preseason expectations for the Jets. Many observers saw them as the worst team in the league and projected them for very few wins. I predicted the Jets would go 6-10 back in August, and that was much higher than most. Point is, nobody saw the Jets as potential playoff team, but after 11 weeks they are in sixth place in the AFC, and that is Ryan’s best case for a contract extension.
Whether or not the Jets retain Ryan will come down to the team’s performance down the stretch. If the Jets implode and finish 5-11 or 6-10, Ryan will be gone. If the team can rally and finish with a winning record and/or a playoff berth, Ryan will stay. The tricky part will come if the Jets finish 7-9 or 8-8. In that scenario, I think the Jets would offer Ryan a short contract extension, but that is far from a guarantee.
As things currently stand, I do not think that Ryan is on the hot seat. He has exceeded all expectations this season, and the Jets remain in the thick of the playoff race. A disastrous finish could change things, but that is unlikely, and fans should expect to see Ryan on the sidelines once again in 2014.