clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Rex Ryan: Small Drips of Information

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

When I look at the struggles of the New York Jets, it is plainly obvious the biggest problem with this football team is a lack of talent. This is a bottom tier roster in too many areas. That falls squarely on the poor choices of the general manager.

Rex Ryan has received his fair share of criticism for the team's struggles. Many questions have been raised about decisions he has made with his defensive schemes. Let me tell you something. The easiest thing in the world to do is to question the play calling. It is overly simplistic to say a play didn't work and simply draw the conclusion it was a bad call. So much more goes into it. In the Jets' case, it did not matter what they ran against the San Diego Chargers. Rex has been criticized for blitzing too much. He needs to drop more people into coverage. As we discussed earlier today, that didn't work any better. But this criticism enters a theater of the absurd when one considers a major criticism of a week ago. There were complaints coming after the Detroit game that Golden Tate got matched up against linebackers. Those would be the players who allegedly doomed the Jets this week because they were not dropped into coverage.

With that said, I have been very uneasy about the job Rex has done, and that feeling has grown over the last few weeks. It is one thing to say John Idzik is the man most responsible for the problems the Jets have. It is another thing to say Rex Ryan bears no responsibility.

I think of nebulous phrases like a lack of discipline or a lack of cohesion. The feeling has grown with every missed communication on defense. It has grown with every time the Jets have the wrong personnel on the field, every penalty for too many men, and every wasted timeout because the offense could not get on the same page presnap.

Really these things are about attention to detail or lack of it. They tend to be the residue of preparation. So many things happen during an NFL game at such a fast pace that players and coaches fall back on the way they prepare.

It is very difficult to tell what happens during the week as an NFL team practices. We only get drips and drabs of information here or there. This week we got a few insights from two men widely known as respected leaders, and this information is food for thought.

Demario Davis:

"I know we’re not practicing like a championship football team, and I take responsibility for that, because I expect guys to do what I do. If we’re not giving effort in practice, that means I’m not giving effort in practice. I feel like film study needs to be increased, and I start with myself. I don’t see a lot of guys putting enough effort into film, so that means I’m not putting enough effort into film. We’ve got work to do to correct it, and I’m going to start with myself."

Nick Mangold:

"I think we have had some errors in practice that we’re trying to get cleaned up," he said. "I’m not sure exactly specifically the different things that come around, but we’re getting some good work in. We need it clean it up during the week, and into game day."

"Those are some of the things that are just mind boggling," Mangold said. "It’s just a lack of focus and concentration. Those are things that you can easily control, and we need to do that. Not only do we need to do that on Sundays, but we also need to do that during the week."

What might be as telling is the response the head coach gave in relation to Davis' comments.

It is obviously subjective to decide whether a team is putting in the necessary work in practice. The fact is the Jets are showing an awful lot of signs that indicate a lack of preparation. Two widely respected players are drawing a direct correlation based on what they see. The head coach disagrees. Can he fix the problem? What is the problem if it is not practice? Does he even know what needs to be fixed?

Another incident from this weekend might shed a light on the situation. That was Geno Smith missing a team meeting. It's easy to blow that out of proportion. It's just as easy to totally dismiss it as nothing.

You have a player who is struggling. He is performing so poorly that there are calls for his job. This week was of the utmost importance. He is supposed to be the leader of the team and set an example. He misses a meeting because he mixes up the time.

Try missing a meeting at a time when your job performance is suspect, and see how it goes over.

This is the kind of thing we could look past if Geno Smith was playing well. Given the way the Jets and he in particular are playing, it begs the question of whether this is an example of the Jets not paying attention to detail. I'm sure the relevant information of the meeting was relayed to Geno. The tangible impact of missing the meeting was probably somewhere between small and non-existant. I feel like we must ask, however, whether this is indicative of a larger lack of attention to detail permeating this football team that leads to the miscues we see.

Again, the words of the head coach might speak volumes.

"It was an honest mistake and he got confused,'' Ryan said. "I believe it's just a one-time thing, but it was just an honest mistake.''

I don't see any need for Rex to publicly bash his quarterback, but given the circumstances there probably is not any reason to go to any lengths to make excuses in public.

This brings me to the bigger point. Much has been made about how much the Jets players love Rex Ryan. It was a big thing last year when the Jets decided to retain him. It can be a good thing for somebody to love their boss, but not always.

The question is this. Do Jets players love Rex Ryan because he makes them better, or do Jets players love Rex Ryan because they know they won't be held accountable if they slack on the little things?

That same quarterback has been one of the worst in the league this year. Minutes after a game ended in which he posted a 7.6 passer rating and was pulled, the head coach didn't even hesitate to name him next week's starter.

What is disturbing is I feel like we have asked many of these same questions for years. Rex Ryan was lucky to not be fired after 2012. His team had fallen apart at the end of two straight seasons. His locker room disintegrated on him in one of them. Shortly after that season he showed up at a press conference wearing the same tie he wore at his introduction to the New York media in January 2009. He spoke about feeling like he was starting over, and he would learn.

Yet here we are saying the exact same things. The general manager is more at fault for this team's problems, but Rex owns part of this. This Jets team right now seems like it needs a fresh start on all levels. Unless things change, sadly that means the head coach also.