Rex Ryan fired by New York Jets
Ryan was finally let go after remaining on the hot seat for more than a year with the Jets, ending his six-year tenure.
You can say a lot of things about Ryan’s time in New York, but you can’t say it was dull. The six-year period included a pair of AFC Championship appearances, a Super Bowl guarantee, some classic quotes, the Darrelle Revis saga, more headlines than you can count, a few quarterback changes and of course a little Tebowmania.
On Monday, owner Woody Johnson released a statement about his decision to fire Ryan which was coupled with the firing of general manager John Idzik:
After extensive thought and reflection about the current state of our football team, this morning I informed Rex Ryan and John Idzik that they will not be returning for the 2015 season. Both Rex and John made significant contributions to the team, and they have my appreciation and gratitude for their efforts and commitment. Over the years, Rex brought the Jets a bold confidence and a couple of great post-season runs, which all of us will remember.
Hired to replace Eric Mangini in 2009, the brash and outspoken Ryan quickly found success in New York. The Jets drafted Mark Sanchez with the No. 5 pick that season, and the Ryan-Sanchez duo proceeded to lead the Jets back to the playoffs. Despite being a wild card team, New York won a pair of road games and advanced to the AFC Championship.
It was more of the same in Ryan’s second year. New York finished with an 11-5 record and made the playoffs as a wild card. The Jets again went on the road and notched two wins — including one against New England — before coming up short in the AFC Championship.
Unfortunately for Ryan and the Jets, the 24-19 loss to Pittsburgh in the 2010 AFC Championship was the high point of his coaching tenure. Not long after that game, Ryan guaranteed the Jets would win the Super Bowl in 2011.
“Last year I thought we’d win it. This year, I know we’ll win it,” Ryan said in early 2011, via USA Today.
Instead of taking the next step like Ryan predicted, the Jets regressed in 2011, finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs. New York compiled a 3-5 record during the second half of the season, including three straight losses to end the season. While Sanchez and the offense weren’t great, the Jets dropped from the No. 1 scoring defense in Ryan’s first year, to No. 6 in his second, to No. 20 in his third.
That proved to be a sign of things to come. New York regressed even further in 2012, finishing 6-10. The season was a rough ride on and off the field with a media circus surrounding Tim Tebow and constant questions of how New York used him. Ryan and Sanchez had gone from saviors to goats in two seasons. The team moved on from Tebow and Sanchez last season, turning to rookie Geno Smith, but the results were similar. The Jets managed to stay relevant and in playoff consideration by notching several close wins early, though there were signs of trouble ahead. They seemingly alternated between narrow wins and blowout losses, compiling one of the worst point differentials in the NFL.
In 2013, the Jets finished 8-8 and ended the season on a winning streak, but the bottom dropped out in 2014 as the team went on an eight-game losing streak after winning in Week 1. Smith’s skills took a nosedive, backup quarterback Michael Vick wasn’t much better and the defense finished No. 24 in points allowed. New York capped the season with a 37-24 win against Miami in Week 17, ending the year 4-12.
Ryan, who previously had success at the position with Baltimore, will likely catch on as a defensive coordinator somewhere if he opts against taking a cushy NFL analyst position in TV. Although the Jets didn’t always rank highly in scoring defense, they consistently fared well in yards per game allowed, including three top-five rankings during Ryan’s first three seasons. They finished near the top of the league in rush defense again this season.
The Jets have some young talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball, and could be an attractive landing spot for a coach. The big question is what the new Jets head coach would do about the quarterback position. After getting benched multiple times this season for poor performance, Smith may no longer be a viable long-term option. Vick underperformed as well, so the team could be in the market for a new quarterback this offseason, whether in free agency or in the draft.
It’s just another season with the New York Jets.