Originally written on This Given Sunday  |  Last updated 12/2/13

After fighting their way into postseason contention in spite of preseason expectations, the New York Jets are once again falling back to earth, and they’re doing so at an alarming rate. Since the bye week, the Jets have lost three games in a row by a combined total of 79 to 20. With the Jets on a downward spiral out of playoff contention, Rex Ryan’s future as the Jets’ head coach is once again being called into question. Under Ryan, the Jets have been on a perpetual rollercoaster ride, but they’ve never been able to break through as a consistent contender. We know the Jets aren’t a great team, but is it Rex Ryan’s fault? Before the bye week, the Jets had the inside track into the playoffs despite the limitations of their offense. Now, with the Jets’ offense experiencing systemic failures, should Ryan really be held accountable? Looking in from a different perspective, could a different head coach have been able to produce better results than Ryan has this season? The short and simple answer is no, Rex Ryan shouldn’t be canned based on his team’s collapse in recent weeks. Frankly, it’s amazing he was able to work his way out of the hot-seat discussion for as long as he did. The Jets were never bound for greatness this season, even as they put together a couple of big wins over the NFL’s best team. The Jets’ problem from the get-go has been a lack of offensive production. When a team can’t produce points, the defense has too much pressure to withstand without breaking. The moment teams begin to figure out the defense, the wins stop, and that’s what’s been happening, at least in part, to the Jets since returning from their bye week. Since returning from the bye week, rookie quarterback Geno Smith has been unable to toss touchdown pass. In the same span of time, Smith has thrown six interceptions, effectively burying any chance the Jets have had at victory with turnover after turnover. To Rex Ryan’s credit, Geno Smith was yanked from the Jets’ most recent loss to the Miami Dolphins in favor of Matt Simms, a quarterback that could begin to turn heads if he begins to outplay Smith on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, even solid play from Simms won’t be enough to salvage the Jets’ playoff hopes after three straight losses. Rex Ryan has been in the uncomfortable position of being without a franchise quarterback since he joined the New York Jets. First, Mark Sanchez proved ineffective in the long run, and at the moment, Geno Smith isn’t fairing much better. It’s difficult to sell the idea that Rex Ryan has mismanaged his own roster. Ryan is a defensive coach at heart, and to this credit, the Jets’ defense has kept them in many games this season. Without his expertise, the Jets may have lost all but two or three of their games. Rex Ryan may be relieved of his duties at the end of the season, but if he is fired, it won’t be because he hasn’t performed up to an acceptable level. He’s made the Jets a more interesting and competitive team since joining New York. If the Jets do move on, it’s because general manager John Idzik wants his own man leading the team, not because Ryan wasn’t able to do a satisfactory job. [follow]

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