Should The Jets Fire Rex Ryan? Both Sides of The Debate


Right now as the Jets continue their slide down into the basement of the AFC East (and FRANKLY the NFL) and into the joke book of every pundit with ASSpirations of making the Jets the BUTT of their jokes, it seems JetNation and anyone else with an opinion on the Jets are either at odds or confused as to who is to blame and who if anyone needs to be fired after the season.    I think the majority of JetNation undoubtedly believes that Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum can no longer escape blame for the failures of this team and has to be relieved of his General Manager duties as soon as possible.  I for one certainly agree with that opinion and you probably won’t find too many people rushing to defend Tannenbaum as his FAILURES are evident and glaring at this point.   The difference in opinions regarding the blame within JetNation primarily exist when discussing what faults, if any, does HC Rex Ryan play in the Jets FAILURES and if he deserves to be fired.  Let’s quickly examine both sides of the argument here and determine which viewpoint, if any, holds more weight/validity than the other to determine if the Jets are better off simply parting pays with Rex Ryan or giving him another off season to try to fix what is wrong with the Jets.

Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan is feeling the heat for the first time since becoming the Head Coach of the New York Jets

Why Rex deserves one more season:

– Rex currently boasts a 36–28 overall record since becoming a head coach which includes 4-2 in the playoffs and 2 trips to the AFC Championship Game in consecutive seasons (2009/2010).  That instantly gives him the best playoff record for any head coach in the history of the New York Jets.

–  In 2009 and 2010, the Jets were ranked first and fourth overall in the league in rushing and since Ryan arrived, the Jets defenses have never been ranked lower than sixth overall in the NFL.  That’s saying a lot considering the season before Rex arrived, the Jets defense was ranked 29th overall, a vast improvement for the Jets defense to say the least.

–  Rex is working with arguably one of the worst QB situations in the league right now and that’s putting it nicely.  Mark Sanchez has struggled to find any kind of positive consistency for this team this season, and some even argue that he has actually been counter-productive, not only for this Jets offense but for the entire Jets team.  What makes matters worse is the fact that apparently Sanchez’s backup in Tim Tebow, you know; the QB that the Jets traded a 4th rounder for? has done nothing to gain the trust in the Jets coaching staff, hence the reluctance to even entertain the thought of benching Sanchez for Tebow.  That is a problem and that would seemingly make it difficult for any coach to succeed offensively, not just Rex Ryan.

–  It’s widely believed in JetNation that Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum hasn’t done much to help Rex personnel wise and that’s a legit argument to say the least.  It’s also an argument that speaks for itself as most Rex supporters honestly feels as if Mike Tannenbaum has gradually done Rex Ryan IN with incompetent personnel decisions over the past year and ½.

Why Rex deserves to be fired:

2009: 9-7 record.  Defeated the Bengals and Chargers in the postseason but lost to the Colts in the AFC Championship

2010: 11-5 record.  Defeated the Colts and Patriots in the postseason but lost to the Steelers in the AFC Championship game.

2011: 8-8 record. No playoffs

2012: 4-7 record thus far and no light at the end of the tunnel.

Simply put; the Jets are moving in the wrong direction LITERALLY.  There’s no way anyone can make a legitimate argument that they have seen valid consistent improvement from this Jets team in 3 ½ seasons under Ryan.

– Rex’s philosophy has FAILED.  Rex came onto the job boasting about how he would implement the Ground and Pound philosophy, how the Jets would “pound” their opponent and play great defense.  Needless to say; this philosophy has been anything BUT successful and that’s putting it mildly to be honest.   Rex’s outdated offensive philosophy has not only been a failure but it’s partly responsible for the inadequate development Mark Sanchez has received since being drafted by the Jets in 2009.

–  Jets defense has ranked no lower than 6th overall since becoming the head coach but does it even feel like it?  Rex Ryan was hired on the notion that he was a “defensive genius” and he DOES deserve credit for turning the Jets defense around in one season.  As I stated before, the defensive turnaround from 2008 to 2009 is to be commended but the defense since that time has not made the necessary strides that were expected and in fact the defense has actually regressed.  Rex inability to find a pass rusher has been the biggest knock on him thus far and has hurt this Jets defense tremendously considering they play in the same division as the best QB in the NFL.  Simply put; in a league in which passing the football effectively and rushing the passer consistently is key, the Jets have FAILED in BOTH of those areas consistently under Rex.

Mark Sanchez FAILED development IS Rex Ryan’s fault….NO ONE ELSES.

–  Mark Sanchez’s development falls directly on the shoulders of Rex Ryan and anyone believing anything to the contrary isn’t being honest with themselves.  Say what you want about Mark Sanchez at this point as he’s warrants the criticism he receives but I don’t think its even debatable at this point that Mark Sanchez has received inadequate and counterproductive development since being drafted by the Jets.  From day one Rex put the handcuffs on Mark Sanchez and tried to coach this “Ground and Pound” philosophy into Mark Sanchez and when Sanchez’s rookie mistakes started showing up, Rex went from handcuffs to total LOCKDOWN on Sanchez, implementing Operation Color Coded Wrist Band, a colorful piece of “weaponry” that is only to be used when engaging in the “Play NOT to Lose/Don’t Make Mistakes” warfare.  That type of counterproductive development falls squarely on the shoulders of the head coach, NO ONE ELSE.   Rex should’ve seen what we ALL saw in that the offensive coaching around Sanchez just wasn’t cutting it and there needed to be a change but instead of doing so, Rex allowed Brian Schottenheimer to take the fall and he was done with it.  Rex should’ve fired Matt Cavanaugh and hired a QB coach to come to fix Sanchez’s problems as it was painfully obvious that Cavanaugh+Schotty = FAILURE.

–  The Jets consistently fail their “biggest tests” every season under Rex and does so in undramatic fashion.  Not only do the Jets not seem to show up consistently for their biggest games/tests of the seasons more times than not but the way they lose these games in embarrassing fashions speaks volumes.  The Jets latest “biggest test” embarrassment was the Thanksgiving Night Massacre by way of the New England Patriots.  A game that saw the Jets lose in comedic fashion and that’s putting it nicely to be honest.  This is about execution of course but make no mistakes about it, this is coaching as well.  It goes back to the 2009 in watching the Jets consistently FAIL marquee match-ups as the Jets haven’t beaten a viable opponent since the Steelers in regular season 2010.  Not having your guys ready to play in the biggest test of their season every season is a COACHING FAIL.  PERIOD!

– As much as some want to 100% blame Mike Tannenbaum for personnel FAILS, this also falls on the shoulders of the head coach.  Lets not act like we don’t remember Tanny admitting that Rex came to him and told him “get me that kid” re Mark Sanchez.  Or when Rex is watching game film on a linebacker in college (ironic since the LB corp on the Jets could probably use that guy Rex was scouting) and he gets SO enamored with a FULL BACK, John Conner, a player THAT IS NO LONGER ON THE ROSTER AT THIS TIME.  People love saying that Head Coaches don’t make personnel decisions but if you are a coach that has gone to back to back AFC Championship games, you have earned the right to shop for some of the groceries and anyone saying anything to the contrary isn’t being honest with THEMSELVES.

As a head coach you are OBLIGATED to force your GM to bring a veteran WR so Sanchez doesn’t have to rely on a rookie WR that had minimal production in college.  You are obligated to force your GM to bring in a viable Right Tackle before the season starts considering everyone with eyes saw that the status-quo was not only FAILING but would eventually get Sanchez KILLED.  You are obligated to force your GM to bring in a veteran RB to pair with a RB in Shonn Greene to replace the production that the Jets lost when they lost LT.  You are obligated to get your GM to understand that Mark Sanchez needed a VIABLE backup and NOT a gimmick player in Tebow before trading for him.  As a head coach, you should realize that your team is 8 mil UNDER the cap so there’s nothing wrong with putting pressure on your GM to GET these important pieces.  Now if it is later revealed that Rex did this then that’s a different story but every indication and every pre-season press conference showed that Rex was happy or content with the Roster being the way it was and that’s a problem to say the least.

Tim Tebow was brought in to back up Mark Sanchez but its obvious the coaching staff doesnt trust him to do that.

-The reluctance to bench struggling players shows stubborness on Rex’s part and is part of his FAILING as a head coach.  No matter WHAT you think you have or don’t have in Tim Tebow, the time for a change at QB has come and gone and Rex missed that opportunity to at least TRY to give his team a spark and or show them that complacency would not be tolerated.  Instead, the only thing we get from Rex is  the “Mark Sanchez gives us the best chance to win”  and “Mark made some good throws” rhetoric on a weekly basis and that sends a bad message to the team.  It also sends a bad message to the other QBs on the roster in Tebow and McElroy.  Other players such as Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, Kyle Wilson and Shonn Greene have seemingly played their way onto the bench but have yet to see said bench.

–  The fact that Rex has NO legitimate answers for simple questions surrounding this team, shows that he is probably getting burned out and that’s never a good sign from a struggling coach.  Every week, Rex is providing the same responses to crucial and valid questions that are being asked.  If this is an indication that he doesn’t know how to fix what is wrong with the Jets then there needs to be a change ASAP.

What it essentially looks like at this point is that Rex’s CONS are starting to outweigh his PROS almost by a TON.  Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that head coaches DONT get a bad rap at times and they are sometimes unfairly blamed and criticized for things beyond their control but we shouldn’t ignore when they DO give us legit reasoning to question their philosophy and decision making.  Rex has a sizeable body of work that can actually be evaluated at this point and his evaluation doesn’t look so good.  I believed Rex was the right guy for the job when he was brought in and was happy with the hire but I’ve seen enough at this point to know that a change not only at the GM position is warranted but a change at the head coach position is as well.  There are 2 sides to this debate but the Rex Ryan proponents are starting to run out of ammo and the debate is beginning to become one sided.  JetNation, like me, is hoping that Rex Ryan shows something, anything these last few games of the season that jusitifes him being retained but I’m certain we’ve seen Rex’s ceiling as a head coach and to expect anything else is asking for a miracle at this point.