Call him a clown, call him an idiot, call him someone with a big mouth, or just a defensive coach. Rex Ryan is one of the top coaches in the NFL.
There was a lot of talk before the season that New York Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan was going to be fired. Ryan had not made the postseason two seasons in a row heading into the season. He guaranteed Super Bowls that never came.
A common trend in the NFL is for a new general manager to hire their own choice for the head coaching position.
However, New York Jets Owner Woody Johnson stuck with Ryan and he should be applauded for his loyalty. Some writers and fans question, however, who out there would be a better option? No one.
In a Feb. 15 article on Yahoo Sports written by Patrick Daugherty, Ryan was ranked the eleventh best coach in the NFL.
Ryan, even though he still has not gotten that ring as a head coach, should be ranked in the top ten. The reason why his teams have not been better is because he has not had consistent play at the quarterback position, and fans know the NFL is a quarterback’s league.
Ryan’s career record as head coach of the New York Jets is a respectable 42-38 in his five seasons. In his first season, with rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez under center, Ryan led the Jets into the postseason with a 9-7 record.
The Jets used their ground-and-pound theme to upset the Cincinnati Bengals on the road. The following week the Jets went across the country and upset the San Diego Chargers with a 17-14 win in the divisional round. The Jets magic ended the following week in the AFC Championship game with a loss to the Colts.
That season the Jets had the best rushing offense in the NFL and the number-one defense.
The following season, 2010, the Jets had even more success under Ryan. They finished the regular season 11-5. That season the Jets had the sixth rank defense and the 13th ranked offense in the NFL.
The team was also bolstered by the fourth best rushing offense in football. In addition, they had the third best run defense and sixth best passing defense in the NFL.
Once again, the Jets were forced to be road warriors as they defeated a Colts team with Peyton Manning 14-13 in a rematch of the previous year’s AFC Championship game. The Jets then moved on to Foxborough as they took on their rivals, the New England Patriots.
The Jets defeated the Patriots 28-21. An iconic moment of that game was Jets’ running back Shonn Greene’s 16 yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter to put the Jets up 28-14. Who else but Ryan and the entire Jets bench ran down the sideline and to the end zone to get an excessive celebration penalty? Afterwards Greene laid down in the end zone to “put the Patriots to sleep,” as he later said.
The Jets quest to the Super Bowl ended with a 24-19 loss to Steelers in the AFC Championship. The Jets defense struggled in that game, as they were behind 24-0 at halftime. However, the comeback in the second half of that game fell short even as the Jets shutout the Steelers in the second half.
That loss started the downfall for the Jets and Ryan. The Jets finished the season with an 8-8 record, including losing three in a row to close out the season.
That season the Jets had the twenty-fifth ranked offense and the fifth best defense in football. Once again Ryan showed his value as the team continued its excellent play on defense.
The following season, 2012, the Jets just had a bad year, a season that would be remembered for one play, the “butt fumble” as it’s come to be known (where Mark Sanchez slid into the butt of offensive lineman Brandon Moore).
The play occurred on Thanksgiving against the Patriots when the Jets were routed 49-19. The Jets finished the season with a 6-10 record. In a horrible season, Sanchez threw 18 interceptions and only 13 touchdowns.
The Jets had the twenty-eighth ranked offense in the league. In addition, the Jets had their worst defense under Ryan with the twentieth ranked defense. However, once again Ryan’s ability to stop the run continued as the Jets had the seventh best run defense in football.
A lot of people blamed Ryan for the bad season. But Ryan is not to blame.
Mike Tannenbaum, the Jets’ general manager, did nothing to address the woes on offense.
He traded for Tim Tebow, which was a big distraction. It ruined Mark Sanchez that season and potentially his career.
Ryan is a genius, as he realized that Tim Tebow did not belong in the NFL because he is not a good quarterback. In addition, Tannenbaum had offensive weapons as Santonio Holmes was injured and had only 20 catches in four games.
Also, Tannenbaum signed receivers off the scrap pile. They included Chaz Schilens, Clyde Gates and a past-his-prime Braylon Edwards. In addition, second round draft pick Stephen Hill was flat out awful, only having 21 catches in 11 games.
After the 2012 season Tannenbaum was fired and current general manager John Idzik Jr. was hired.
Idzik set Ryan up to fail for the 2013 season as he traded away star cornerback Darrelle Revis. In addition, Idzik did not make many upgrades on offense.
The Jets receiving corps consisted of an awful and injured Santonio Holmes and tight end Kellen Winslow, who was suspended for four games for performance-enhancing drug use. Also, the Jets had no-name wide receivers in Clyde Gates, Greg Salas and David Nelson. Idzik favored rookie quarterback Geno Smith when Ryan clearly wanted Sanchez to start.
That controversy was averted when Mark Sanchez injured his shoulder in a preseason game against the New York Giants.
The Jets surprised many and it was because of Ryan’s leadership as they finished 8-8 and came in second place in the AFC East.
They did miss the playoffs for the third straight season but they prevented their division rival, the Miami Dolphins, from making it in week 17. Before the Jets played the Browns in week 16, there were several reports that Ryan told his players he was going to be fired.
The Jets players rallied around their coach and defeated the Browns and then Dolphins a week later. That was the team’s only two-game winning streak of the season.
The win against the Browns included Ryan making a victory lap around Metlife Stadium to loyal Jets fans who wanted Ryan to remain as coach. Before the Dolphins game Idzik and Woody Johnson told Ryan he would return as head coach. However, the players did not know and defeated the Dolphins.
The players were then told the news in the locker room and celebrated with Ryan like they had won the Super Bowl.
That celebration goes to show everyone how Ryan is loved by his players. That is what you need in sports— you need a player’s coach.
Ryan, like every coach, has his flaws, and one of his is offensive knowledge.
However, he does have the right guy now with Marty Mornhinweg leading his offense as the offensive coordinator.
One thing the Jets are always going to have under Ryan is good defense, because he is a defensive genius. Therefore he is the right fit because one side of the game will always be good. In addition, he has the right attitude to coach in the NFL and he relates to his players wonderfully.
For his work Ryan was awarded with a contract extension. The Jets had one of their first round picks, Sheldon Richardson, win Defensive Rookie of the Year.
The reason that happened is because of Ryan’s leadership and his defensive knowledge.
Many football fans take jabs at Ryan, but it is time to stop and look forward to another season of him roaming the sidelines for the Jets.
He is the right man for the job. People need to stay committed to him and enjoy the commitment to Ryan.
Brian Clemmenson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org