Getting Warmer

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

How secure is Rex Ryan's job?

Is Rex Ryan on the hot seat in 2014?

Speculation last year was that, with a new GM who might want his own guy at the helm, unless Rex produced a winning record, perhaps even unless the Jets made the playoffs, Rex might be gone.  As it turned out the Jets did neither of those things, but with an extremely untalented roster Rex managed a minor miracle with a .500 record, and that was enough to not only save his job, but win him a contract extension.  The question is, for how long?

Details of Rex's contract extension reveal that the financial hit to the Jets if they fire him after the 2014 season would be roughly the same as if they had fired him after the 2013 season.  In other words, though the contract extension was purportedly a multi-year extension, in effect Rex added one more year to his contract.  That puts him right back in the same position as he was at the beginning of 2013, when most observers thought he was on the hot seat.

So is Rex Ryan on the hot seat in 2014?  To answer that question let's take a look at the current coaching situations around the league.  Listed below are the head coaches of all 32 NFL teams, along with their Super Bowl titles, their playoff appearances with their current teams, the length of their tenure, and how many coaching changes each team has made since Rex took over the Jets.

One thing that pops out from the chart is that after only five years on the job Rex is already one of the league's senior statesmen.  Only eight NFL head coaches have been in their current positions longer than Rex:  Mike Smith, John Harbaugh, Marvin Lewis, Mike McCarthy, Bill Belichick, Sean Payton, Tom Coughlin, and Mike Tomlin.  Of those eight, six have won Super Bowls, every one has had at least 4 playoff appearances with their current team, and none have missed the playoffs for more than two years in a row.  Rex has never won a Super Bowl, has only two playoff appearances, and has missed the playoffs three years in a row.  That seat is warming up.

Ten other NFL teams have missed the playoffs three or more years in a row:  Arizona, Buffalo, Cleveland, Dallas, Jacksonville, Miami, Oakland, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, and Tennessee.  That makes up approximately 33% of the league.  Every one of those teams other than the Jets has changed coaches at least once since 2009.  All but Arizona and St. Louis have changed coaches multiple times since 2009.  Getting really toasty now.

Only one other coach in the NFL has a longer streak of missing the playoffs than Rex: Jason Garrett in Dallas.  And even Garret has not posted a losing record over the last three years, unlike Rex.  That seat is sizzling.

The reality is the NFL is not a patient league.  You don't usually get to continually miss the playoffs and keep your job.  You don't usually get to continually post non-winning records and keep your job.  Generally speaking you don't get to survive a change in the GM.  So far Rex has managed to survive all three of these coach killing events.  But even the Jets at some point will run out of patience.  That point is very likely this year.  The Jets have upgraded the roster.  They no longer have a rookie starting QB, and if Geno Smith fails they have a credible backup for the first time in forever.  They no longer have the league's worst set of skill position players.  They've gotten younger, faster and more talented on both sides of the ball.  There is a very good chance that, despite some remaining glaring holes in the roster, the Jets feel they have given Rex enough to succeed this year.  And if he doesn't succeed, if he fails to make the playoffs for the fourth year in a row, it is difficult to imagine Rex surviving yet another year.  Fairly or unfairly, right or wrong, the NFL is a win now league, and Rex hasn't won now for about as long as any NFL coach gets these days.  Whether you believe Rex is a great coach or a mediocre one, whether you believe he has or has not been given the tools to succeed, his seat would appear to be getting hotter by the day.  If this team doesn't make the playoffs, and even more so if this team fails to post a winning record for the fourth consecutive year, it is very difficult to imagine John Idzik not choosing to put his own man in place in 2015.

Team Coach Year Hired Super Bowl Wins

Playoff Years

Current Team/

Years Since Last

Playoffs

Coaching Changes

Since 2009

.
ARI Arians 2013 0 0/1 1
ATL M. Smith 2008 0 4/1 0
BAL John Harbaugh 2008 1 5/1 0
BUF Marrone 2013 0 0/1 3
CAR Rivera 2011 0 1/0 1
CHI Trestman 2013 0 0/1 1
CIN Lewis 2003 0 5/0 0
CLE Pettine 2014 0 0/0 3
DAL Garrett 2010 0 0/3.5 (hired midseason) 1
DEN Fox 2011 0 3/0 2
DET Caldwell 2014 0 0/0 1
GB McCarthy 2006 1 6/0 0
HOU O' Brien 2014 0 0/0 2
IND Pagano 2012 0 2/0 1
JAX Bradley 2013 0 0/1 3
KC Reid 2013 0 1/0 2
MIA Philbin 2012 0 0/2 2
MIN Zimmer 2014 0 0/0 2
NE Belichick 2000 3 11/0 0
NO Payton 2006 1 5/0 0
NYG Coughlin 2004 2 5/2 0
NYJ Ryan 2009 0 2/3 0
OAK Allen 2012 0 0/2 2
PHI Kelly 2013 0 1/0 1
PIT Tomlin 2007 1 4/2 0
SD McCoy 2013 0 1/0 1
SF Jim Harbaugh 2011 0 3/0 2
SEA Carroll 2010 1 3/0 1
STL Fisher 2012 0 0/2 1
TB L. Smith 2014 0 0/0 2
TEN Whisenhunt 2014 0 0/0 2
WAS Gruden 2014 0 0/0 2

What do you think?  Is Rex Ryan on the hot seat?  Should he be?  What do you think it will take for Rex to keep his job beyond 2014?  What do you think it should take?  If you were GM, what would it take for you to keep Rex on?  Let us know your thoughts.

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