New York Jets: Thoughts on Rex Ryan and John Idzik Firings


Dec 29, 2014; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets chairman and chief executive officer Woody Johnson addresses the media regarding the dismissal of general manager John Idzik (not pictured) and head coach Rex Ryan (not pictured) at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

I understand I am just a bit late to the party, as the firings of Rex Ryan and John Idzik took place early yesterday. However, I was indisposed, at the hospital for a short diagnostic procedure for the balance of Black Monday. I was following the stories of course, as they were covered by our brilliant staff writers, Craig Hoffman and Paul Newbold.

Now I wanted to give my thoughts on the events of yesterday.

First I want to address the owner’s handling of the situation. He did so as well as I have ever seen him. Woody Johnson did a good job. He knew that changes needed to be made, and he didn’t hesitate. Woody was able to put aside his fondness for Rex Ryan, and evaluate the fact that the team bottomed out in 2014, and let him go.

The same goes for the handling of John Idzik. Woody Johnson took the unconventional take of letting go of a general manager after only two seasons. To be fair, Idzik did not get enough time to give his draftees to develop. But, he did not have the Jets roster ready to compete, his fundamental responsibility. Woody was able to recognize that and let John Idzik go as well.

Johnson’s handling of the press conference was solid. He gave open, honest answers to the questions that he received. He made a very interesting comment, that the Jets are in the “win business”, and they aren’t winning enough. Johnson clearly knows the fans want to see a winner, and you truly believe that he wants to make that happen. Bringing in Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf are brilliant concessions. Woody Johnson doesn’t really know football. He makes that clear, by bringing in lifetime football guys to help him.

For all of the odd things Woody Johnson has done over the years, he is finally starting to get it.

Dec 28, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan in the second quarter at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last few years, you guys have come to know how I feel about Rex Ryan as the coach. I have been a Rex Ryan guy from the beginning. He brought the New York Jets back to relevance, when they were on the way in the other direction. Ryan was the first coach in quite some time that actually wanted to be the head coach of the Jets. You could take pride in the team he led out onto the field. He would say, “Here come the Jets!”, and that meant something, and it hadn’t for a while.

There were arguments to be made for keeping Rex Ryan here. Despite the fact that many looked to see the Jets quit on their coach, it didn’t happen. Right up until that final game two days ago, the Jets fought for Rex Ryan. They went out playing defense that in some ways was reminiscent of the early days of Rex Ryan’s tenure.

You could also talk about the lack of talent at important positions on the roster. Quarterback is one, cornerback the other, just to name a couple. Rex Ryan got the most he could out of these guys, see Marcus Williams as an example. But, he could only play the guys that were on the roster, and a lot of that could be attributed to the general manager.

But, even if you take all of that into account, Rex Ryan still had to go. A big reason, one that Woody Johnson couldn’t bring himself to get around, was that no general manager with a personnel background was going to accept being given a head coach. People aren’t stupid, they saw what happened with the Idzik and Ryan shotgun marriage. They weren’t going to get stuck in the same position.

The only way Woody Johnson would be able to bring in a new general manager that could turn things around would be with a new head coach. Woody Johnson knew it.

Dec 7, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New York Jets general manager John Idzik watches practice before the game with the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings win 30-24. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

This is the guy that really had to go. John Idzik was the wrong move, and kudos to Woody Johnson for recognizing it.

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Admittedly, most general managers get more than two years to show what they can do. It typically takes four years to adequately evaluate a draft class. However, Idzik showed that he didn’t have the football understanding needed to get the job done. And, it sounds like he mis-represented himself in his interview. With that piece of information out, I don’t think other teams will make that same mistake.

Idzik never wrapped his brain around Rex Ryan’s philosophy of putting a team together. Look at the cornerback position to see evidence of that. Yes, I still believe that Marcus Williams has the potential to be something. But, that doesn’t make John Idzik the right guy.

The Jets could have lived without Antonio Cromartie. But, they had to sign a top flight cornerback in the off-season. It was John Idzik’s job to understand that the defense of Rex Ryan would not work without top flight cornerbacks, period. He needed to get the Jets one of those top free agents, and give Rex Ryan what he needed. Idzik didn’t do that, and there is no reason to believe he would have done that going forward.

So we start again. The Jets are on the right track, but they must get this right.