Rex Ryan has had an up and down five years as head coach of the New York Jets. He went 9-7 in his first season and 11-5 in his second, with the Jets making the AFC Championship both times. However, a decline started in his third year when the Jets went 8-8, and last year they finished just 6-10. This season, the Jets are 5-7 and on their way to missing the playoffs for the third straight year.
35-37 with two playoff appearances in five seasons does not exactly inspire confidence that Ryan is right man to continue to lead the Jets forward. In his tenure, the Jets have had outstanding defenses and strong run games that have been undone by the organization’s ability to find and develop a franchise quarterback. Neither Mark Sanchez or Geno Smith has proven to be the answer despite three offensive coordinators and multiple changes in schemes and personnel.
This failure is the reason I expect Ryan will be fired after as this season. Unless the Jets go on a miracle run to make the playoffs, that will be two straight losing seasons and not a lot of optimism about the future, particularly on offense. Ryan is a defensive coach who has wanted to invest in defense through the draft, trades and free agency, and those decisions have proven costly.
Sanchez seemed like he could be the Jets quarterback of the future until he regressed badly last season, and Smith has struggled to adjust to the NFL as the starter this year. In today’s NFL it is nearly impossible to be consistently successful without strong quarterback play, and the Jets have yet to have that under Ryan.
That is not fully Ryan’s fault, as the final decision to draft Sanchez and Smith falls on the shoulders of Mike Tannenbaum and John Idzik. Ryan is also a defensive coach, and his offensive staff should take more of the blame for failing to develop the two quarterbacks. That being said, as the head coach of the team Ryan is responsible for everything, including hiring the offensive coaches that could not develop these quarterbacks.
I think Ryan is a very good coach, but it appears his time in New York is ending. He may be best served as a defensive coordinator where he doesn’t have to worry about an offense, because he has been a very one sided coach in his five years with the Jets. It is the failures of the offense that have kept the Jets from the playoffs this season, and it is the failure of Sanchez and Smith that has left the Jets’ future in question. Someone has to be held responsible for those failures, and it is very likely that Ryan will be that person.