New York Jets: Why Firing Rex Ryan Would Be Ill-Advised, Playoffs and More

Daniel Friedman@DFriedmanNHLCorrespondent IDecember 13, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 02:  Head coach Rex Ryan looks on in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals on December 2, 2012 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The New York Jets defeated the Arizona Cardinals 7-6.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

"Alright, you guys, let's listen up. We won a game yesterday. We win one today, that's two in a row.  We win one tomorrow, that's called a winning streak. It has happened before."  -Major League II

Much like Lou Brown, the fictional manager of the Cleveland Indians from the Major League films, New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan knows a thing or two about public speaking. 

Though you can be nearly certain that Ryan has never relayed such words to his players, his colleagues or the media, you have to wonder if they've been occupying his thoughts this season. 

If anything, those words basically summarize what the past 13 weeks have been like for Gang Green, who have, for the most part, played an uninspiring year of football in 2012.

Normally, the odds of identifying a silver lining to this situation would be slimmer than those of finding Hanukkah candles on the planet Mars.

Yet somehow, despite all that's gone wrong (and, boy, has there been a ton), the New York Jets (yes, those New York Jets) are just a single win out of a playoff spot. 

I did in fact mean to write "playoffs;" that wasn't a typo. 

With their 17-10 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars this past Sunday, the Jets are now in position to challenge the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals for that last AFC wild card spot. 

That being said, let's not kid ourselves here or pretend that the Jets are no longer broken. No matter how you slice it, this organization is in need of a significant overhaul, in terms of its roster and personnel.

As for who's to be sent to the gallows, that remains a matter of contention. But I'm here to defend one possible candidate; the brash, confident head coach of the New York Jets, Rex Ryan. 

The fact of the matter is, this team would be far worse without Ryan at the helm, though many Jet fans have voiced quite strongly that they'd like to see him hit the unemployment line. 

I completely understand the frustration, but for one second, let's allow clearer minds to prevail here. 

Since 2009, when Rex was hired, the Jets have posted a 34-27 regular season record and have won four of the six playoff games they've appeared in.

Lest we also forget that three of those postseason victories came against the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers

They went to the AFC Championship two years in a row, doing so with a quarterback, Mark Sanchez, during his rookie and sophomore NFL circuits.

Under Ryan, the Jets have regularly featured one of the more effective defenses in the league, which has been the strength of this team over the last four years. 

The worst record Gang Green has ever had during Rex's tenure was 8-8 (2011), and though we don't yet know how this season will end, it'll probably be somewhere between 7-9 and the same 8-8.

Finishing 8-8 is not catastrophic. Going 4-12 would be. Call me insane, but I'll take my chances by keeping Ryan around, at least a while longer. There's no need to make a rash decision that could backfire tremendously. 

Does he make mistakes? You bet he does, though I challenge you to point out a single current NFL head coach who doesn't make any. 

What I am suggesting, however, is that the positives far outweigh the negatives and that, contrary to popular belief, this football team needs Rex Ryan.

The Jets are 6-7 and have a chance to make the playoffs, even though they've been a walking, talking, throwing and tackling example of Murphy's Law. 

I know what you're going to say next, and I'm going to address it immediately: The fact that the Jets have been gutted of their impact players and, on top of that, have little offensive talent to begin with, essentially neutralizes the "weaker schedule" factor. 

Rest assured, the teams Gang Green will face in the next three weeks are marking off those games as wins just the same. 

It's no secret as to why the Jets aren't 3-10 right now, and it's the fact that, more often than not, their defense has kept them in ballgames. And their defense has kept them in ballgames because Rex Ryan is calling the shots. 

Take Rex out of the equation and the New York Jets are an abysmal football team; far worse than the one they are right now. Remove his defensive genius, and you lose the only edge the Jets might have over their opponents. 

Alas, I'm even more prepared here than you might've thought. Surely, you'll shift over to the other side of the ball and point to the Jets' offensive woes as the rationale for letting Rex Ryan go.

After all, it's quite obvious that Ryan has little knowledge of or interest in that aspect of the game, right?

Well, I ask you the following question: If Rex Ryan doesn't understand how NFL offenses work, how is it, exactly, that he knows how to defend against them so well? 

If you were looking for the culprits here, look no further than GM Mike Tannenbaum and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. 

Tannenbaum failed to address the team's glaring offensive needs, which have been apparent since last year. To expect Rex Ryan, or anyone else, to excel on the scoreboard with this roster, is nothing short of ridiculous.

Why Tannenbaum felt hiring Sparano—whose resume shows a grand total of one good season as head coach of the Miami Dolphins and a 29-32 record over nearly four seasons there—was a good idea is beyond me. 

Sparano has exhibited a complete lack of ability as far as play-calling is concerned, and his "wildcat" packages have been a total bust. 

As for the Tim Tebow fiasco, you can chalk that up to owner Woody Johnson's intentions to steal headlines and market a household name. 

The bottom line here is, Rex Ryan might be the only reason why the New York Jets even have a shot in hell of being somewhat competitive, let alone making the playoffs this year.

To fire him now would be a tremendous mistake, plain and simple. 

Comments are welcome.


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