The New York Jets made big news when they decided to retain Rex Ryan as head coach, and now they have made a further commitment, giving Ryan a one year contract extension. That means his current deal will expire at the end of the 2015 season, and it removes his lame duck status for 2014. However, this extension changes nothing regarding Ryan’s status with the organization, and he is absolutely going to be coaching for his job in 2014.
The Jets have missed the playoffs for three straight seasons under Ryan, and coaches have been fired for much less than that. They have not had a winning record in any of the last three years either, and although this season’s 8-8 performance was actually very solid, the Jets have to improve tremendously for Ryan to have a future with the team. This season it will be playoffs or bust for Ryan, and that means he will be under heavy pressure to improve the team.
If the Jets are going to make the playoffs, Ryan will have to make some major changes to how he approaches building a roster. In Ryan’s five years with the team the Jets have had six first round picks, and they have spent five of them on defensive players. They have maintained that defensive focus later in the draft and in free agency, as Ryan has pressured his general managers into spending resources on building the defense. That cannot happen this offseason. The vast majority of the Jets’ high draft picks and free agent money needs to be targeted at the offense, namely wide receiver, tight end and guard.
The Jets will not make the playoffs next season unless their offense improves tremendously, and they need to add talent in that area. Obviously the main burden for that falls on John Idzik, but Ryan has the ear of Woody Johnson and he can’t undermine the offensive focused offseason with his own desire to add defensive players. Ryan will be fired if the Jets don’t make next year’s playoffs, and he has to understand that building a complete team is the only way to get there. The Jets showed their confidence that Ryan can accomplish this by extending his contract, but it doesn’t make Ryan’s job any safer.