It’s all but over for Rex Ryan in New York.
There’s just four weeks left to the regular season, and sometime on Black Monday (Dec. 29, the day after the NFL regular season ends), general manager John Idzik will step to the podium and tell the attending media something they have known for quite a while: Ryan will not be back as the head coach in 2015.
Perhaps owner Woody Johnson should step to the podium after his general manager and tell the attending media that Idzik has also been relieved of his duties.
Here’s the big problem for the Jets. Idzik should have had the opportunity to hire and fire his head coach when he took the job shortly after the 2012 season came to an end. He was told that Ryan was his head coach, and that he would remain as the front man for the Jets in the 2013 season.
If Idzik had been truly sharp, he would have rejected the opportunity to run the Jets. Few job seekers would have the discipline to actually walk away from such a position, but it was fairly clear then that the Jets did not have a strong offensive team and that they never would under a defense-first leader like Ryan.
Whatever caveat Idzik had been given, he made a fatal flaw in 2013 when he drafted Geno Smith with his second-round pick and made him the team’s quarterback of the future. Despite a fine career at West Virginia, he had no experience running a pro-style offense and there were many issues raised about his commitment and willingness to learn a new system.
When the Jets selected Smith, there was a lot of head shaking going on around the NFL. Smith was a prospect with significant yellow flags – if not red – and the Jets did not have the wherewithal to help him overcome his difficulties. The team trusted Marty Mornhinweg to turn things around because of his reputation as an offensive mastermind, but the failed Detroit Lions head coach was in over his head. It’s doubtful that Bill Walsh in his prime could have helped Smith enough to transform him into a workable NFL quarterback.
After the Jets finished 8-8 last year, Idzik should have seen the Jets for what they were. However, the Jets went 3-1 in the final four games when the season was already gone. Those final victories over Oakland, Cleveland, and Miami meant nothing, but Idzik bought the fool’s gold.
He chose to believe that the team was coming around and that Smith would pick up on the progress that he had made at the end of the season. Idzik somehow thought the Jets would have a polished team, capable of challenging for a Wild-Card playoff spot.
Idzik fooled himself into thinking that the Jets had the raw materials to work with to make the 2014 season a success. He thought he was upgrading the offense with the signing of free agents like wide receiver Eric Decker, running back Chris Johnson and offensive lineman in Breno Giacomini.
However, none of that mattered because Smith was a dreadful failure from the start of the season. He was always confused by what opposing defenses showed him, and was unable to make the proper adjustments at the line of scrimmage.
A quarterback who can’t determine when the opponent is going to blitz or drop back into coverage has lost the battle. It gets even worse when the quarterback can’t throw the ball accurately. An inability to make the correct decision when the ball is in the quarterback’s hands ruins things completely.
That’s where the Jets stand with Smith. Backup Michael Vick is no longer the answer, either. He is an older quarterback and his athletic ability, speed, quickness, and powerful arm are no longer tools that separate him from the competition.
The Jets benefited from having a defensive stalwart like Ryan as their head coach in many ways. He loves his players, and they support him. He is one of the best defensive minds in the business. But he does not have the complete package because he does not truly appreciate offensive football.
His career has been based on stopping offenses, and that’s what he knows best. Those in charge could have helped him by giving him the proper tools to turn the Jets into a successful offensive team, but they never did that. They played a cruel joke by giving him a quarterback like Smith and the Jets are a 2-10 mess.
It’s not all Ryan’s fault, but he will pay the price. Idzik should go right along with him.
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