I've been a hopeless Jets fan my whole life. I can'r remember any season where the mood of the fan base was more toxic than this one. With Charley Winner, the fans still had some love left from SBIII. With Lou Holtz, the mood was more of a resignation of how bad the team was than of spite. With Joe Walton, the fans loved the team, just hated the HC. It seems like with this team, everyone responsible for the team's success is the subject of vitriol: Johnson, Tanenbaum, Sanchez, Holmes, Ferguson, Scott, Harris, etc, etc. It has to do with expectations. Many fans thought this team was well positioned for a successful season. Now the large majority of fans have turned on the team. The latest subject of negative comments is Ryan.
In one sense, its difficult to believe. A strong argument can be made that Ryan is the best HC in Jets history. The Jets overall list of Head Coaches is a virtual Hall of Shame, and the only other contenders would be Ewbank, who obviously won the SB but had an overall record of 71-77-6, and Parcells, who owns the best overall winning percentage of 60%, but left the team in the lurch when he left. But even if Ryan advocates have a strong argument, the negative points are growing. Here is a discussion on the main points surrounding Ryan:
1) Rex's Big Mouth. Its hard to make a logical argument on this one either way. Some fans hate that he is constantly praising his players and overrating his team. Personally, I always liked his positive attitude. It seemed genuine and confident to me, it was a reason they were as successful as they were, and I'm not going to start bashing him now over it.
2) Ryan's Contribution to Player Selection. No one can say how much input Ryan has vs. the GM or the scouts. But he is at least partially culpable for the team's dismal record of recent player selection. Still, this fault alone would not be enough to get him fired. In the end, this falls on Tannenbaum alone, he is the boss.
3) Ryan's Prowess as a Defensive Strategist. I never really understood this one in the first place. No other team uses overload blitzes? The Jets have some brilliant strategy that other teams don't know about? Ryan's just not that smart. Great players have always made him look smart, and allowed him to isolate areas of the field with thin coverage.
4) The Teams Overall Winning Strategy under Ryan. That being play with a dominating defense and an efficient mistake-free offense. Again, some fans think this is Ryan's greatest weakness. But the strategy itself came very close to taking them to the SB. The part of this argument that seems to make the most sense is that the Jets had the wrong QB in place to execute this strategy, and that's a valid point, but no one can say that this strategy hasn't worked for other teams provided they had the right players in place (e.g., Ravens, Bucs)..
5) Player Development under Ryan. This to me has far more weight than any other point. The job of the HC is to maximize the talent given, and that is primarily achieved by making players better. The case of Sanchez' lack of progression is well documented and need not be reiterated for the 99th time. But here is a sincere question: has any player significantly improved under Ryan? I could only think of Pouha, but now I'm not even sure about that. Maybe Wilkerson and Ellis, we just need to see more. The current Jets team has heavily invested in both offensive and defensive linemen, but they got pushed around very badly on both sides of the ball by SF and Pitt, and they now look almost like a failed finesse team. IMO, this team was put together to be a physical force, but they have dangerously deteriorated in this regard, and in almost every case, these linemen are not old, they should be near the prime of their careers or improving. Ryan talks tough, but where is the toughness on the field?
Its too bad there are no fan polls anymore, I'd really like to see how many fans still support Ryan. If the season results in something like what we all fear, I'm guessing that Tannenbaum will be gone and the new guy will want his own HC. Looking into the future, I'll always have fond memories of Ryan, but it may well be time to move on if the team keeps playing like this.