MMQB's Jenny Vrentas has a feature today on former Jets and current Bills head coach Rex Ryan. Ryan discusses many things. The piece is quite candid in detailing frustrations Ryan felt in his later days with the team.
In April 2012 the Jets hired a new team president, Neil Glat. That season the team went 6–10, and general manager Mike Tannenbaum subsequently was replaced by John Idzik. Despite having put on a good face, Ryan says he felt like a "leftover" under the new GM, half of an arranged marriage "who could be replaced at any time."
"I wasn’t the boss anymore," Ryan says. "I was just a guy. Whether they want to say it or not, all of a sudden I became less important to the team."
Of particular note, this story tries to lend credence to the idea there was a conspiracy in place to tank in 2014 so the team could hire a new coach in 2015.
Even before the season began, Ryan was worried about the Jets’ ability to compete. Last summer he bought a house in the Nashville suburbs. "When the draft and free agency didn’t go the way I would have liked it to, I was concerned," Ryan says. "That’s why I bought a house in Tennessee. I didn’t know what the hell was going to happen, but I knew I would need someplace to live. That I was probably going to get fired."
A few weeks into the 2014 season, he became more than just concerned—he felt there was a master plan in place. He got a call from a friend who told him a high-ranking member of the Jets’ scouting department was on the road telling reps from other teams that they weren’t spending money because they were getting a new head coach in 2015.
Click through to read the whole article, but it tells the story of a dysfunctional organization. All of the dangers of forcing a head coach onto a general manager seemed to play out. This story suggests a high level of distrust between Rex and Idzik, and the two sides not being at all on the same page when it came to player acquisitions from Darrelle Revis to DeSean Jackson to Martavis Bryant. Plenty of people in 2012 were very concerned about just this scenario playing out. They were right.
Retaining Rex also limited the pool of general managers willing to work in such a condition. It raised the odds of ending up with somebody like Idzik, who ended up not having the skills to make things work. Idzik in retrospect seems like the kind of guy who took the job under the condition of keeping Rex because taking a job nobody else wanted was the only way he was ever going to become a GM. Seattle didn't even give the guy so much as an interview when he worked for them, and that team was looking for a general manager.
This also shows how good Rex is at playing the media game. He's getting his side of things out there. The front office made error after error in its approach, and this article makes mention of many of them. There were plenty of coaching problems also, but Rex and his staff were able to control the narrative surrounding the team. I think it would be fair to say the 2014 season was more on Idzik than Ryan, but it was kind of striking how much blame a coaching staff that missed the Playoffs four straight years escaped.
At the end of the day, I'm just glad everybody moved on. I was a little nostalgic when the Jets made a change at first because of Rex's early success, but lately I've just been relieved to move on and for things to finally be about football again rather than whatever distraction Rex has decided to create around himself.