A few weeks ago, it was widely reported that the New York Jets had given Rex Ryan a one year contract extension, largely to remove his lame duck status for next season. At the time, I wrote that this changed nothing for Ryan and that he would still be coaching for his job in 2014. Today, it appears the Jets are prepared to make an even greater commitment to their head coach, as Adam Schefter of ESPN has reported that the Jets and Ryan have agreed to a multi-year extension. It appears that this contract would replace the one year extension that was discussed back in early January.
The details of this contract have not been made public, but this move doesn’t make much sense from the Jets. (Update: The contract apparently runs through 2016, but has heavy incentives for playoff wins and could be terminated in 2015 if they aren’t achieved.) The original extension eliminated his lame duck status, keeping him under contract through the 2015 season. Furthermore, the players in the locker room love Ryan and would run through a brick wall for him, meaning that the idea of them ignoring a lame duck coach is not exactly relevant to the Jets. Numerous players publicly stated their support for Ryan all season, and they will play hard for him regardless of his contract status.
Most importantly, the simple fact is that Ryan has simply not earned this contract. He is 42-38 in five seasons as Jets head coach and he hasn’t made the playoffs in three years. Ryan’s offenses have gotten progressively worse lately, and missing the playoffs again next season would mean the Jets would have almost no choice but to fire him.
It is well known that owner Woody Johnson is a huge supporter of Ryan, but the Jets have jumped the gun by giving him a long term extension. Ryan did a fantastic job with one of the least talented rosters in the NFL this season, but the reality is that a fourth straight year without a playoff appearance would be unacceptable. The Jets cannot get too caught up in the idea of consistency, because consistently mediocre will not get this franchise anywhere. Extension or not, 2014 should be playoffs or bust for Ryan.