From what I've read recently, it appears that the majority of Jets fans, media, and without a doubt the players (this video was heartwarming to see) think keeping Rex Ryan for at least another year as head coach of the New York Jets was the right decision. I agree with keeping him and in this article I'll give my reasoning as to why, but I also think it's important to point out why firing him was considered, and I'll end the article giving a short synopsis as to why I think he has only earned the right to finish out the last year of his contract.
First, he deserves to keep his job because this team fought hard for him in almost every single game and significantly overachieved. This may be common knowledge but it's important to point out, that the Jets played above their talent level this year, beating teams they were not expected to beat, and finishing extremely strong when the team had nothing to play for. The ability to motivate professional athletes can be difficult, but Rex has shown that he is able to do this time and time again. After two relatively disappointing years, finishing 8-8 and 6-10 respectively, the team seems to be on an upward trend. With a full offseason working with a young team, developing Geno Smith, adding several skill players, and this defense continuing to mature, we should be hopeful that the playoffs is a possibility with Rex as the head coach.
Another argument for Rex keeping his job, is that he took us to two AFC Championship Games, and both were with Mark Sanchez as QB (How was this accomplished? This is a miracle. Akin to Jesus walking on water maybe? Yes, I believe Sanchez is that bad.). From 1970 to 2009, the Jets played in two AFC Championship games - that's 2 AFC Championship games in 39 years (losing both - sadface). But in Rex's first two years as head coach, we advanced to this game both times, almost winning both as well (With 1st & Goal from the 1 in AFC Champ game against the Steelers, why are you throwing the ball twice with Mark Sanchez when you have LaDainian Tomlinson in the backfield? Ahh you're the worst Brian Schottenheimer) . That's a tremendous accomplishment, and accomplishing this with a QB who most would agree is sub-par at best was pretty remarkable. I would argue Rex is one of the most successful coaches the Jets have had in this organization's existence, and for that he has earned the benefit of the doubt, and another year as head coach.
Despite his two successful runs to the AFC Championship game and the good job he did this year coaching this team to an overachieving 8-8 record, his firing was rightfully considered due to the offense being a perpetual problem year after year. For Rex's five years as head coach, our offense has been poor. He's preached a "Ground and Pound" philosophy, but in today's NFL this will not win you Championships. Teams need an offense that can win games, not avoid losing them. What is important to know (which I'll admit I'm not sure what the answer is) is whether or not Rex is responsible for the personnel decisions on the offense. If he is responsible for drafting Mark Sanchez (some might suggest he was, considering Rex has a tatoo of his wife wearing a Mark Sanchez jersey), Stephen Hill, Shonn Greene, assembling this current crop of WRs and TEs, and signing Tim Tebow then his potential firing seems all the more justified. However, if these decisions were mainly Tannenbaum's then I believe Rex deserves a reprieve.
But, I think it's important to make the following argument as well. Even if these personnel decisions on offense are not Rex's and were mainly Tannenbaum's decisions, I believe Rex should get more blame for the offense's failures. He is the HEAD COACH. He seems to focus mainly on defense, and have minimal input on the offense, which is a concern of mine. Additionally, when he does get involved, it seems to be with the instruction to be more conservative or incorporate more Wildcat (see this seasons Week 11-13 games agains the Dolphins, Ravens, and Bills). However, like I said in previous paragraph's, with Idzik now the GM, and a good offensive coordinator in Marty Mornhinwheg, I believe Rex deserves another year so we can see if this offense can succeed with the personnel Idzik brings in.
Lastly on my list of reasons why his firing was rightfully considered, was the very public two year period where his leadership qualities seemed in question. Santonio Holmes outburst late in the 2011-2012 season, the reports of the locker room being "fractured", and the very public spat with Sanchez and Tebow in the 2012-2013 season seemed to imply that Rex was losing this team. Fortunately, this season and the video of the players celebrating the news that Rex would be the coach another year proved otherwise so I think his leadership qualities aren't an issue.
Overall, I think Rex has been a success as the New York Jets head coach. But, I do only think he deserves to coach out the last year of his contract. This offense is still way below average and the team hasn't made the playoffs in three years. If this continues, and the offense is sub par again - with way too much conservative play calling and WildCat offense - and the Jets miss the playoffs, I think it may be time to part ways with Rex Ryan. But, if the team continues to make strides, the offense shows improvement, the defense continues its dominance (with some personnel moves in the secondary hopefully) and if this team fights for a playoff berth and has a winning record, I believe we should give Rex a contract extension. Next year should be a make or break one for Rex. It'll be an interesting year, and one that hopefully ends with the Jets organization finding out that Rex should be the Head Coach of this team for years to come.