When the Jets schedule came out, media and fans all pointed to a six-week stretch of games against teams where the Jets faced six straight Pro-Bowl quarterbacks including three future Hall-of-Famers (Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady).
The hope was that the Jets could salvage at least one or two of those games and with a light schedule down the stretch, potentially make the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
The other scenario was the one that ultimately played out. The Jets depleted secondary was unable to stop the “murders row” of quarterbacks and at times the offense was unable to sustain drives and the Jets lost all six games.
With the team losers of six straight and off to their worst start since 2007, when they started off 1-8, the question that is being posed is, will Rex Ryan be fired?
Let's get some things straight, Ryan is not a “lame duck” head coach. He signed a contract extension last year through the 2016 season. But that contract is only fully guaranteed through the 2015 season, so if Ryan was fired this year, the Jets would only be on the hook for his 2015 salary.
Therefore, if the Jets let Ryan’s contract fully play out, he would not be considered a “lame duck” coach until the 2016 season.
It is assumed by many, fairly or unfairly that this nine game stretch will determine whether Ryan will remain the Jets coach.
At the start of the season, it was believed that if the Jets didn’t improve their record or make the playoffs Ryan would be fired. But after starting out 1-3, owner Woody Johnson said that wouldn’t necessarily be the case.
“We don’t look at it that way,” said Johnson earlier this month. “We’re looking to build a team both on the field and through our coaches that we feel is the best we can get. And so we make those decisions at the end of the season, when we evaluate everything” Johnson added.
1-6 is not an acceptable record, Ryan himself will admit that and he also acknowledges that if he doesn’t turn it around he may not be the coach after this season.
“This is a win business,” Ryan said on a conference call with JetsInsider.com and the media last Friday. “I understand that, there’s no doubt.”
Although the Jets remaining schedule is fairly easy, at 1-6 a playoff trip is most likely out of the cards. Even if the Jets go 7-2, which is a legitimate possibility they will only finish 8-8 equaling last years record.
With that said, the season is not lost. The Jets have an opportunity to evaluate their roster and personnel, which starts with Ryan. There is no doubt that this team loves playing for Ryan because of his enthusiasm and his “players coach” mentality.
“The great thing about Rex is that he believes in all of us,” said linebacker Calvin Pace according to the Boston Globe after Thursday’s loss to New England.
As much as it hurts to hear it, the Jets as presently constituted are not built to beat the elite teams in the NFL, but they are built to compete as evidenced by being in every game against teams like the Packers, the Broncos and the Patriots and only losing by one possession with the exception of the debacle in San Diego.
He did a fantastic job coaching last year’s team which had no business going 8-8 and with the exception of the Chargers game has devised up tremendous defensive game plans that have stifled some of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
Ryan just doesn’t have the talent in the secondary position or before the Percy Harvin trade, the wide receiver position to win consistently in the NFL.
One fair knock on Ryan is the Jets offense has not improved since he took over. Mark Sanchez flamed out, don’t even get started with the Tim Tebow experiment and so far Geno Smith has been inconsistent.
A counter argument to that point could have been “well the Jets don’t have enough weapons.” That argument is invalid because of the Harvin trade.
If Harvin stays healthy, the Jets will have a legitimate receiver who can stretch the field and has playmaking ability. That’s not to say Eric Decker is not a playmaking receiver, but he is less of a deep threat than Harvin. That isn’t a slight to Decker, it speaks to how dangerous a healthy Harvin can be.
With Decker, Harvin and Jeremy Kerley a dependable slot receiver, the Jets offense shouldn’t have to see so many teams stuff the box with eight guys daring them to throw.
This should allow Smith to have some more time in the pocket and not have to force so many throws which leads to turnovers as shown by his seven interceptions on the season.
If however, the offense continues to struggle that may be an indictment on not only offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg but on Ryan himself.
While it cannot be said Ryan has no more excuses offensively, it also cannot be said that the team lacks talent on the offensive end.
GM John Idzik has a plan, it may not be a popular one but he has a plan and these next nine games, fairly or unfairly will determine if Ryan is a part of that plan.