The Evolution of New York Jets Coach Rex Ryan: 2012

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The Jets decided to acquire Tebow to be the backup quarterback, “compete” with Sanchez to become the starter and to run the read option offense. Boy did the Jets miscalculate. First, the team had to in essence install two offenses. One a conventional attack that fit Mark Sanchez and the other the read option for Tebow. Second they vastly underestimated the media reaction. ESPN came to Florham Park for a week and was wall to wall in their Tebow coverage. The beat reporters were charting the passes for training camp practices and every other article on Pro Football Talk was Jets related. Here are Rex Ryan’s thoughts on the acquisition of Tebow and the roles he would play:

“I don’t see Tim just holding a clipboard. He’s going to be playing for us. There is no doubt,” Ryan said at the league meetings. “He will have a role. We know that. There won’t be a better Wildcat quarterback in the game. Is that his only role? I don’t believe that – we’ll see what happens.”

It didn’t translate well on the field. Tebow performed so poorly in practices that he lost the confidence of Rex Ryan and the coaching staff. He was used sporadically throughout the season to very limited success. He ran a few successful fake punts as the punt protector but that was the extent of his achievements with the Jets. When Sanchez did get benched Tebow was passed over to start by Greg McElroy. Tebow responded by telling Rex Ryan that he wouldn’t be available to run the Wildcat plays that week. It was a disaster all around with Tebow at fault as well as the coaching staff. When the Jets finally cut Tebow after the 2013 Draft Rex Ryan was short and to the point in his comments.

“We have a great deal of respect for Tim Tebow,” coach Rex Ryan said. “Unfortunately, things did not work out the way we all had hoped.  Tim is an extremely hard worker, evident by the shape he came back in this offseason. We wish him the best moving forward.”

Sparano and Tebow are two of the main mistakes that Rex Ryan made. The team floundered to a 6-10 record and everything that could go wrong did. They lost Darrelle Revis to a season-ending ACL injury. They lost Santonio Holmes to a season-ending Plantar Fascitis injury. David Harris, Calvin Pace and Bart Scott had terrible years leaving the defense looking old and slow. Mark Sanchez regressed and committed 26 turnovers in his 15 games playing so poorly that Greg McElroy relieved him in 1 game and started for him in another. Ryan erred by maintaining his faith in his underperforming players, especially by not benching Sanchez sooner and going to McElroy (since neither he nor the team believed in Tebow).

Rex Ryan stopped being Rex Ryan in 2012. Gone completely was the boastful coach who believed in himself and his team replaced by a man that got bullied by the press, consistently made excuses for the team and did not hold the players accountable. He tried so hard to be a traditional coach that he forgot what made him successful. After the season Mike Tannenbaum was fired and John Idzik was brought aboard as the new General Manager. Rex Ryan was retained and given a chance to re-find the formula that made him a success in his first two and a half seasons.

Will Rex be able to figure things out in time to save his job? Is he the right man to lead the Jets through the rebuild? What will he have to do to prove himself to Idzik? We will see in the final part of this series, 2013 and beyond.

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