One of the main themes that we will hear plenty about over the last two weeks of the Jets' season will be the uncertainty of Rex Ryan's job status. Three straight seasons of missing the Playoffs and a general manager in place who inherited him are not good recipes for a head coach. While nobody knows exactly what John Idzik and Woody Johnson are thinking, there is a possibility the Jets will make a coaching change.
I personally am conflicted. I see both arguments.
On the one hand, Rex is handcuffed by a lack of talent. How much of the blame is really on his shoulders is unclear. If the Jets were going to make a coaching change, last year would have been the year to do it. This year was probably sunk either way, but a new coach to come in with a new GM could have let them get a new program into place. Firing Rex means this year was a wasted opportunity and calls into question once again whether this organization has any kind of long-term vision. We saw Rex get the most out of Jets teams early in his tenure and win despite shaky quarterbacking, one of the toughest tricks to pull in the NFL. Rex is also an excellent defensive coach, one of the sharpest defensive minds in the game. While the Jets could certainly find a defensive coach as good or close to as good, they already have one now. Plus I think there are cases where teams give up on promising coaches too soon. Sometimes patience pays off.
On the other hand, I see a lot of problems that just cannot be washed away by a lack of talent. How many times have the Jets not even been competitive in games the last two years. If a coach was really making the team better, wouldn't the team at least look prepared every week and play closer games than its talent level would suggest? This team too frequently shows a lack of discipline and fundamentals. And if the team was well-coached, wouldn't it get better as the season went on? For the third straight year, the Jets are playing their worst ball late in the season. These are signs that Rex might not be the guy you want to build your program even when the talent level improves. He is a bad in game coach, and he sticks way too long with underperforming players he likes from the old in Ed Reed to the young in Dee Milliner. Plus it isn't like he's been a success every time he has had a decent team. The 2011 Jets had enough talent to make noise, and they fell apart both on the field and in the locker room. And while it is true some teams lack patience to their detriment, there are also teams that stick with a mediocre coach for too long and waste seasons in the process. With the amount of money the Jets have to spend in free agency, would it be sound to allocate those resources for a coach whose system might be scrapped in a year?
At this point I'm conflicted. Some days I think Rex should get one more year. Others I think it is time for a change. This is one case where I see both sides having compelling arguments. What do you think?