With the New York Jets no mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, the conversation around the team now shifts toward what can be done to improve the team for 2014. At the heart of the conversations, the status of Rex Ryan's coaching job is in the forefront. With the enigmatic coach entering the last year of his current contract, it will be up to John Idzik to determine whether to allow Ryan to have one last shot of finding the success he enjoyed in back-to-back AFC Championship years.
While analysts debate whether or not the team is better with Ryan at the helm, Ryan himself declares that he is expecting to return.
"Of course I believe it," said Ryan regarding whether he thinks he is the right man. "Of course, no question I believe it. There's no doubt."
Ryan and the Jets enjoyed early season success this year. Winning five of their first nine games, Ryan surpassed even the loftiest of expectations surrounding the team. Many speculated that the Jets would only win four games in the season but hard-fought victories over powerhouses New England and New Orleans elevated the Jets into the AFC Wild Card picture. However, since their Week 9 bye, the Jets have only won one game and have resorted to shuffling quarterbacks in the middle of games. What is left now is a team that started off hot but has since crashed back down to earth, leaving Ryan's job security muddled in confusion.
"We certainly haven't played to our goal," said Ryan of this season's struggles. "We want to win. We don't go into any game that we don't think we're going to win. Clearly, that hasn't been the case. But I know I'm a good football coach. I believe in this team. I believe in this organization and I'm determined to bring a winner to this team, there's no question about it."
While the Jets are going to finish at or below .500 for the third straight season, Ryan should be back next season as there are not a lot of coaches that could do a better job with this team. Lovie Smith and Ken Wisenhunt are the most notable names on the coaching block but neither is considered to be an offensive or defensive guru. If the Jets want to continue their rebuild then a shakeup at the head coaching spot would only hinder the development of key pieces like Sheldon Richardson and Dee Milliner.
"I believe this team is going in the right direction," affirmed Ryan. "The only thing I know I can do is do the best job I possibly can and keep my focus on the job at hand and not worry about other things."