Does Rex Ryan Have More Power than We Realize?


Dec 30, 2012; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan leaving the field after the game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bills beat the Jets 28-9. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Just a note before I get into this, I am speculating. I don’t have any special source giving me first hand knowledge of what I am about to talk about, just posing a question based on what we know.

It’s been a widely debated topic, firing Mike Tannenbaum but keeping Rex Ryan. Can this system work out? We will find that out soon, but for now, let’s go ahead with what we know.

Rex Ryan went on vacation, while the team brass stayed home to work the general manager search, leading many to believe that Rex Ryan has no, or next to no say in the choice. But now, we find out that Tom Gamble, the emerging leading candidate for the job, happens to be close with coach Ryan. Coincidence? Maybe. But, does Rex have more power than we all have realized? Also maybe.

The thought is out there that for the last four years, Rex Ryan has had a large say in personnel. Yes, he is the coach, so he should have SOME say, but the word is that he had a lot of say. It has been said that any player Rex Ryan wanted, Rex Ryan got. We saw on “Hard Knocks”, him getting complete autonomy to choose a player in the draft, when chose John “The Terminator” Conner. Typically, a coach is involved in the drafting process, but the guy running the show is the general manager. This is where Mike’s lack of personnel experience hurt him, and he had to lean on others, like Rex. What that does is give the head coach an inordinate amount of power, and blurs the division of power within an organization.

Now, despite the fact that Rex Ryan is on vacation, and not playing any direct role in the process, the lead candidate happens to be a Rex Ryan guy. Did this just happen that way? Oh, it certainly could have. But, as a Jets fan, do you ever really think that things, “just happen”? I know that I don’t. I have begun to wonder whether or not Gamble is the leading candidate because, in part at least, that he is a Rex Ryan guy. If my wonder is true, it shows that Rex has a lot of power inside that building.

That could be a problem.

We have seen how this roster has fallen short over the last couple of years. It’s not exactly overflowing with talent. The Jets need to overhaul a decent portion of it, and need the right guy leading the charge. Tom Gamble is a great talent evaluator, as evidenced by the 49ers roster. If Rex is in his ear, and has his attention, Gamble could go astray from what he wants to do to fix the franchise, and mold his decisions to Rex Ryan’s wants. While you do that to a point, but you cannot let the coach pick the groceries by himself. The guy in charge, the general manager, must have the ability to make these decisions.

Then again, what if Tom Gamble ISN’T in love with the idea of keeping coach Ryan on as head coach? Maybe they are close personally, but when it comes to football philosophy, Tom wants to go another way. Does Rex have the power to force himself to be prioritized over the GM, one that would likely do a great job for us?

Maybe Rex IS driving this bus inside Florham Park, more than any of us have realized. Be careful, Jets. Giving your coach that much power can be dangerous stuff.