Today is the final game of the 2013 season for our New York Jets; while the playoffs are out of reach, there are still a few important reasons to push for the win in Miami. Pride, of course; the chance to force the hated Dolphins to join us on their couches to watch the postseason; and as a validation of/swan song for Mr. Rex Ryan.
Let's get some things straight right out of the way: I'm not naive, and neither are the readers of this site. We all know there's a pretty good chance that John Idzik has made up his mind one way or the other, and one win against a division rival isn't going to deliver Rex from the chopping block if his GM has already decided to send him there. I'm not writing this post to push for Rex Ryan to be fired, or saved. This is simply one man's opinion as a die-hard Jets fan; and that opinion is that, regardless of whether or not this is his last game as Head Coach of the New York Jets, Rex Ryan is the greatest HC our franchise has had since Weeb Ewbank.
Strong words, I know. But I have reasons!
I have been a Jets fan since I watched my first game on TV back in the lost season of 1996. I remember sitting next to my grandfather while Gang Green was pounded by the Denver Broncos. Despite the lopsided box score, and the fact that most of my family rooted for the Giants, I was hooked by the Jets right away. I have suffered through Kotite and Groh, and weathered the peaks and valleys of Parcells, Herm, and the Mangenius. I know I'm a young buck compared to some fans who have waited and hoped since the days of Namath, but I know my team history.
Which brings this long-winded story back to Rex Ryan. Rex is third all-time in coaching wins for the Jets, and first in playoff victories. He has taken the Jets to more AFC Championship games than any coach in the history of the franchise. He has done most of this with mediocre to downright awful quarterback play, and varying degrees of roster decay. Some of the failures during his tenure are on him; you could say he strengthened the defense at the expense of the offense. His early bravado put too much pressure on the players. His clock management and decision-making is sometimes suspect in real time (but what coach's isnt?).
On the other hand, you could say that he squeezed more wins out of these rosters than most coaches could, given the meddling of Mike T, the OC carousel, and, might I mention again, the terrible QB situations. I would say that I agree when Rex tells the media that the Jets are a team on the ups, and that with Idzik providing a steady hand and Rex toning things down and working with his new boss (which thus far has been the case), we could be looking at the beginning of the greatest period in Jets history since the late '60s.
Before I mercifully release you all from my endless inaugural fanpost, I'd like to point out a team and coach that have stuck through the hard times and are being rewarded for their patience and sound drafting strategy. A team and coach very much like Rex and the Jets. That would be the playoff-bound Cincinnati Bengals and their 10-year HC, Marvin Lewis. Has it always been pretty? No. But the Bengals have been patient, given Lewis time to work and better players to work with, and they have been to the playoffs three years running now. And I would venture to say that Rex Ryan is a better coach than Marvin Lewis.
So before kickoff against Miami later today, I'll be taking a moment to thank Rex Ryan for five years of sometimes great, always interesting football, and hoping for a few years more. Whether you want him to return or are already preparing a funeral pyre for your vested effigy, you can't take that away from him.