Rex Ryan is a defensive minded coach, and as such the Jets have fielded a stout defense every year of his tenure as head coach. He is great at scheming and preparing game plans week to week, and because of that the Jets have remained a competitive team despite offensive shortcomings. But something I feel he doesn't get enough credit for is his ability to develop defensive players.
In the past three years the Jets have taken a defensive lineman with their first round pick. Muhammad Wilkerson was drafted 30th overall in 2011. That slot by no means guaranteed that he would become a star. Instead, he has steadily increased his production in each of his three years. Put simply, his development has made him indispensable to the current defense. Quinton Coples was then drafted 16th in the 2012 first round and he too is showing promise as an outside linebacker who can rush the passer effectively. Finally, Sheldon Richardson, in only his first year has shown the ability to be an excellent defensive end in Rex's 3-4 scheme.
Besides those three first round picks, Rex has shown the ability to develop talented players elsewhere. Undrafted free agent Damon Harrison has turned into a top notch nose tackle who can anchor the run defense. Demario Davis is a good inside linebacker who has the ability to play the run and pass. Even much maligned corner Dee Milliner is showing improvement in the last few games.
Rex Ryan's ability to develop talent has been key to the Jets' defense over the years. Since he got here, young players have played key roles. His track record with turning these young players into productive members of the defense speaks for itself. In the end, this must be considered in the decision whether or not to keep him as the head coach.