Following their elimination from playoff contention, the key storyline for the last two weeks of the New York Jets’ season was whether or not Rex Ryan could save his job. This year will be the third straight season the Jets have missed the playoffs, and it could end up being their second straight losing season. On the other hand, Ryan has led a team that many viewed as the worst in the NFL during the preseason to seven wins, and he has the full support of his locker room.
Ryan had the first of his final two chances to prove that he is the right man for the job yesterday against the Cleveland Browns, and he made a very compelling first argument. After several players had defended Ryan in the media during the week, Ryan told the team he expected to be fired during the Saturday night meetings. It was an obvious motivational ploy, but it certainly worked. The Jets turned in one of their better performances in recent weeks during their 24-13 win, and they responded well to Ryan’s coaching.
Ryan’s biggest argument for keeping his job is that the team is moving in the right direction and that consistency is the best method to stay on that course. The Jets backed up that point of view, and rookies Geno Smith and Dee Milliner both turned in one of their best performances of the season yesterday. Ryan believes that if the coaching staff is kept in tact, young players such as Smith and Milliner will continue to grow, and that will put the Jets in best position for future success.
It remains to be seen if Woody Johnson and John Idzik share Ryan’s belief, and of course all the good Ryan did this week could be undone with a season ending loss to the Miami Dolphins next week. In the meantime, however, Ryan has shown that he can still motivate a team and get them to play winning football. That may or may not be enough to save his job, but Sunday was certainly a good sign for Ryan’s chances of returning next season.