I like Rex Ryan. He’s never given me a legitimate reason to become one of the many haters out there. He’s loud, cocky, and a tad bit obnoxious at times (more than a tad, as many will argue). But I love that. When I see Ryan at the mic during press conferences, I don’t always see a cocky coach; I see a confident one.
I love players and coaches who talk trash and back it up. Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, leader of the Legion of Boom, is one of, if not my favorite player in the league. He consistently runs his mouth on and off the field, but he backs it up with his performance. And that’s where Ryan has stumbled.
After signing a four-year, $11.5 million contract, his first two years as head coach of the New York Jets were a huge success, with the team making it to consecutive AFC Championships. Falling just short of the Super Bowl both times, Ryan made what is still the boldest claim in a career filled with ridiculously bold claims, guaranteeing a Jets Super Bowl victory in 2011.
If by Super Bowl victory he meant a .500 regular season record, then Rex was right on the money. The Jets, going 8-8 that season, came back the next year with a vengeance, going 6-10. In New York, 8-8 and 6-10 just wont cut it. At this point in Ryan’s coaching career, he’s at a crossroads. Just three years ago he was the hottest coach on the market. Now, he’s fighting for his job.
If the Jets fail to make the playoffs this year, it's all but certain that new Jets GM John Idzick will fire Ryan to bring in a coach of his own choosing. So when -- yes when, not if -- the Jets are disqualified from the playoffs and they move onto their next head coach, one of the biggest questions of the offseason is: where will Ryan land?
Just three years ago he was the hottest coach on the market. Now, he’s fighting for his job.
It's not looking like any of the other 31 NFL teams will hire him as their head coach, seeing as that didn’t work out so well in New York. But the one thing Ryan can do better than almost anyone in the NFL is coach defense.
Before he was hired as the Jets coach, Ryan was the defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens defense has been considered the NFL’s best over the last decade, including being ranked the No. 1 defense in Ryan’s final year there in 2008. Becoming a defensive coordinator again seems like the most logical move, as that's where Ryan has had the most career success.
Rex Ryan isn’t a bad football coach. He’s just a bad HEAD football coach. There’s no shame in what Ryan has been able to do with the Jets the past four seasons. Sure, the last two have been really ugly, but this is a coach who took Mark Sanchez (yup, this guy) to consecutive AFC championship game appearances. He’s beaten Mike Tomlin, he’s beaten Bill Belichick, and his team has even beaten Peyton Manning in his final days as in Indianapolis.
I hope Rex Ryan succeeds wherever he goes next. Maybe some day, some day far from the end of this season, we’ll be able to see Rex Ryan be the head coach again on an NFL sideline.
5 FOR THE NIGHT
1. Roddy White: We’re in Week 5 now and I have yet to see the Roddy White we all know and love. Tonight, the Jets secondary will have heavy focus on Julio Jones, and from what I’ve read, White should be the healthiest he’s been all season. Hopefully we can see him return to form tonight on the main stage.
2. Dee Milliner: I was a huge Milliner fan coming out of the draft in April, and he has let me down so far, recording only four tackles in four weeks (that’s one tackle per game...). In Week 2 against the New England Patriots, Rex Ryan took Milliner out of the game because he didn’t want to discourage him. He was covering rookies all night. Tonight, if he is lucky enough to grace the turf, he’s most likely going to be matched up with Julio Jones or Roddy White. Good luck, Dee. Good luck.
3. Mike Smith: The Falcons have a very interesting situation brewing at head coach. Smith, who has led the Falcons to a winning season in each of his years as head coach, has been criticized by many for not being able to win the big one, not being able to get them over the hump and reach the Super Bowl. It makes you wonder how much longer Falcons owner Arthur Blank will wait for Smith to make the jump.
4. Atlanta Falcons' Run Game: Or lack thereof. The Falcons rushed the ball only 15 times last week against New England and the Patriots didn’t even have All-Pro nose tackle Vince Wilfork in the game. The one strength of this poor Jets team is their defensive line. Tonight will be a test of backups Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers, with Steven Jackson still sidelined with an injury.
5. Geno Smith: Smith had his own version of the butt-fumble last week, channeling his inner Mark Sanchez. If he continues to channel the USC failure, he may find himself sitting right next to Sanchez (long hair, headband and all!) on the bench. However, Smith hasn’t been all bad this year. Nah, just kidding, he has been pretty awful. I mean come on, he’s thrown a pick in every game. Maybe he’s not as different as Sanchez as we thought…