Rex Ryan is entering his 5th season as head coach of the New York Jets, as we all know. But, as we also know, he enters that season under a unique set of circumstances. Namely, he is here, with a general manager that didn’t hire him. John Idzik has been hired, with the caveat that he had to keep Rex Ryan as head coach for the 2013 season.
Does that mean, however, that Rex Ryan is a complete “lame duck” coach? Can he keep his job past the year 2013? I have heard the “experts” talking about specific win totals that Rex must achieve to keep his job, and I have heard that it doesn’t matter how many wins the Jets have, he is out after this year.
I believe that coach Ryan can keep his job, but my reasons are a little different than just win totals. Let me show you:
FIELD AN ELITE DEFENSE
I know that sounds easy. Heck, Rex has had an elite, or close to elite, defense every year since he has been here. Even when the offense has gone completely backwards (last year), the defense has stepped up. Why would this year be any different?
This year, the defense has gotten the biggest facelift it has gotten since Rex arrived. Several mainstays of the defense are gone, Darrelle Revis, Bart Scott, Sione Pouha, and Mike DeVito. Calvin Pace is here, but not likely for much longer, other than as a mentor.
In their place, we have guys such as Kenrick Ellis, Sheldon Richardson, and Demario Davis. Yes, the group is younger and faster, there is no doubt. But, gone are guys that coach Ryan has felt very comfortable with. Based on past performance, coach should still have no problem putting an elite defense on the field. But it will be the first time with so many new players, so John Idzik will have to see it.
STAY LOYAL TO THE TEAM, NOT SPECIFIC PLAYERS
Whether you believe in Rex or not, he has had one specific downfall. That downfall? Being too loyal to the players that he is comfortable with. A major example of that is Bart Scott. Last year, it was obvious to everyone in the universe that Bart was slower. He couldn’t catch anyone anymore, but he stayed in the lineup. Why? Because Rex was comfortable with him. It was high time to turn the defense over to Demario Davis, but yet he didn’t do it.
The other example that we all know is Mark Sanchez. Yes he led the team to two title games in his first two years, but he clearly was not the same quarterback last season. The move to take Mark out was prime for the doing far earlier than it was done. But coach Ryan’s loyalty to Mark Sanchez prevented him from doing so. The fact is, his loyalty may have prevented the Jets from turning the season around. We’ll never know.
Mark Sanchez may start the season as the quarterback. As I have said, there is a good chance that he wins the job coming out of week one. However, if Mark falters, or if any of his regulars falter, he has to be able to bench them immediately. There is no way Rex stays if not.
FIELD A TEAM THAT DOESN’T QUIT
I know that’s an obvious one but I bring it up anyway. How many times in our lives have teams that are out of contention, quit on their coach? There is the sentiment that the coach is on the way out the door, so the players stop listening.
Rex must keep control of his locker room, and keep his team from quitting.
So, how do YOU think coach Ryan can keep his job, if he can at all?