John Idzik and Rex Ryan: Closer Than We Expected?


Jul 28, 2013; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan talks with general manager John Idzik following training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Arranged marriages are never easy to make work. Even in history, when couples were forced together by arrangement, it put a struggle on the two. Same in sports, when a front office member has a coach forced upon them, it hardly ever works, and typically ends in a coach’s firing.

Mike Holmgren eventually got rid of Eric Mangini, and more recently, a similar fate came of Lovie Smith. Then we have John Idzik and Rex Ryan. For the better part of the last year, we have been waiting for the other shoe to drop, when John Idzik would finally bring in “his guy”. It never happened.

Is it because Idzik and Ryan actually are as close as they seem to be in public? All evidence would show that they are. Let’s look at the timeline.

John Idzik arrives on the scene last off-season. This is where the “arranged marriage” begins, as Idzik was required by Woody Johnson to keep Rex Ryan on as head coach. Here is where we all thought that, barring a miracle, these two would co-exist for one season, and Rex Ryan would be out the door.

How did that turn out? Rex was given a rookie quarterback, and not many weapons for him to use. The defense still played well, as we all saw. The offense was inconsistent, but that was to be expected. Despite everything, Rex led the Jets to an 8-8 record, which was considered a minor miracle by most football sources.

Many called it Rex’s best coaching job of his entire tenure. Still, we were all waiting for the other shoe to drop, and Rex to be gone.

It didn’t happen. Rex was brought back for 2014. But, there was no news of a contract extension. So we thought, “This is where the other shoe drops. He gets one more season as a ‘lame duck’ coach, and then he is gone”. That didn’t happen either. We come to find out Rex Ryan was given an extension, whether you think it’s “window dressing” or not. It is an extension, that we didn’t expect.

We learn that several of Rex’s assistant coaches had their contracts expiring. Guys like Karl Dunbar and Dennis Thurman had their future plans on hold, waiting to hear from the Jets. Now Idzik is going to bring in his guys. Surely he has guys from Seattle that he is going to force upon Rex now, right? They will bring Rex back, but begin to force him out by taking his trusted staff away.

Nope, we find out that most of Rex’s staff will remain in place.

Why? This is not normal for a general manager that inherits a coach. There is only one possibility. The laughing and friendship we have seen between John and Rex is genuine. The only way to explain it away is that Rex and John are close, closer than we all expected. Yes, the marriage is arranged, but these two have come to respect each other, and like each other.

It could make for an exciting future for this team.