Rex Ryan coaches his first game against the Jets tonight. Let's take a look at how some other former Jets head coaches fared in their first game against the Jets over the last two decades.
Saturday is actually the fifth anniversary of this game. The Jets went into Cleveland with a 6-2 record to face a Browns squad that was 3-6. Despite the record, Cleveland seemed to be turning things around. The team was riding a two game winning streak. They hadn't just won two games in a row. They were blow out victories over the Saints and the Patriots. The Jets seemed to have the game won, but the Browns put together a 10 play drive late in the fourth quarter, ending in a Mohamed Massaqoui 3 yard touchdown catch from Colt McCoy with 44 seconds left to force overtime. The teams almost played the entire 15 minute overtime period. The Jets eventually won on a 37 yard catch and run for a touchdown by Santonio Holmes with 16 seconds left on the clock. Mangini came into question for not running the ball three times on the previous possession to run out the clock and take the tie with his offense backed up on its own goal line.
Herman Edwards brought his Chiefs into the Meadowlands for the 2007 finale. When the schedule was released, it was a battle of two Playoff teams from the season before. It was to be a Sunday Night game on NBC. By the end of the year, the Chiefs were 4-11, while the Jets were 3-12. The game was predictably flexed to the afternoon. It was another overtime game. Mike Nugent won it with a 43 yard field goal in a pouring rain during the extra frame to send a half-full stadium home happy. This game wasn't very memorable. It's legacy is providing us with one of the more interesting what if's in Jets history. With the win, the Jets finished 2007 at 4-12. This dropped them to sixth in the 2008 NFL Draft. Had they lost, they would have picked ahead of Atlanta and had a chance to pick Matt Ryan. Reports indicate the Jets liked Ryan and were interesting in trading up in 2008. We spent plenty of time last year talking about whether people should root for wins or for better Draft position. In this case, we can actually see a living example of the argument. I'm not sure how much more or less successful the Jets would have been with Ryan, but I do know everything would have been different. There never would have been a Favre trade so Mangini probably would not have been fired after 2008. There would be no Rex Ryan. There also would be no trade for Mark Sanchez. Do the Jets take Percy Harvin in 2009, who they reportedly loved? Would Mangini have eventually been fired? Would Rex have been available? Who would have taken over if not? Would quality quarterback play have covered for some of Tannenbaum's other less than stellar decisions? We will never know. It is tough not to wonder these things, though.
The Jets were in trouble before the 2003 season started when Chad Pennington broke his wrist in a preseason game against the Giants. Vinny Testaverde took over at quarterback. The Jets really needed a win in the Week 1 Thursday opener against Washington because two challenging divisional games against the Dolphins and Patriots followed. The Jets lost that game to Washington and then the next two to Miami and New England. Parcells brought his Cowboys to the Meadowlands and dropped the Jets to 0-4 with a dominant 17-6 win. This essentially finished the Jets off, and they ended 2003 at 6-10, a bitter disappointment off their division title in 2002.
Carroll's first game against the Jets as head coach of the Patriots in 1997 was better remembered for being Bill Parcells' return to New England. The Hall of Fame head coach left the Pats under very bitter circumstances following a Super Bowl loss to Green Bay. It was a tight game with 7 lead changes. Neither team ever led the game by more than a touchdown. In the final moments of regulation, the Patriots blocked a John Hall 29 yard field goal attempt. Adam Vinatieri connected from 34 yards in overtime to give New England the victory.
As luck would have it, just two weeks later in 1997, the Jets would face another one of their former head coaches, Bruce Coslet in a road game at Cincinnati. Not only that, but Cincinnati's quarterback, Jeff Blake, was also a former Jet. Neil O'Donnell threw for 3 touchdowns, while Adrian Murrell ran for 156 yards and a score as the Jets won a 31-14 laugher.