Monday, November 26, 2012

In Defense of NY Jets' Coach Rex Ryan

New York Jet head coach Rex Ryan's job is hanging by a thread. Many Jets fans would actually like to see him hanging by a noose. But he's getting a raw deal, getting the blame for this Jets' mess. It's not his fault.

Sure, this 4-7 team is the laughing stock of the NFL. At their games, you half expect a clown car to pull up and the Jet players to spill out. In the embarrassing 49-19 loss to arch rival New England on Thanksgiving there was a hilarious play, the one where QB Mark Sanchez ran into his own lineman and fumbled the ball, which was run back for a TD. It was so ridiculous, so like something you'd see the kiddies do in Pop Warner football, you couldn't help laughing. These guys really are a laff riot.

Make no mistake, when the season is over, to clean up this mess, heads will roll.  Ryan, though, should be safe. He's just playing the hand he was dealt--and it's full of crummy cards.

In 2009 and 2010, when he had decent players, he guided the Jets to the AFC championship game. Just getting that far required excellent coaching. That was Ryan at his best. Those teams weren't packed with stars, but he made the most of a modestly-talented crew. Even then, Sanchez was the weak link. With a more capable QB the Jets might have gone farther.

This current team, though, team flat out stinks.  The Jets were doomed when two of its three best players, corner back Darrelle Revis and WR Santonio Holmes, were knocked out early with season-ending injuries. The offensive line, with the exception of center Nick Mangold, the Jets' other first-rate player, is awful. The WRs are a bunch of butter-fingered nobodies. And those aging linebackers, they're bad against the run and worse chasing down pass receivers. You can't get anywhere without a quality QB. Sanchez has been on a downward spiral since the 2010 AFC championship game.

Sanchez badly needed a shot of confidence. So what did the Jets do, but undermine him by bringing in a high-profile backup, Tim Tebow, who can't really play. Nervously looking over his shoulder at Tebow, Sanchez has gotten worse. Tebow, who's more celebrity than football player, is no help. All he's done is created resentment in the locker room, making the rest of the team angry that a guy who's ineffective at his position is a media darling.

The locker room, already fractured by an ugly Holmes-Sanchez feud and a conflict rooted in attitudes toward gay players, didn't need another distraction--which is basically what Tebow is. All this has sabotaged Ryan's coaching efforts.

He signed on to coach a football team and winds up coaching an NFL circus, teeming with lousy players.
Owner Woody Johnson and GM Mike Tannenbaum needs to clean house, dump Sanchez and Tebow, and start from scratch, signing quality players. And they can do it with Ryan at the helm. In a normal NFL environment he's an excellent coach. He's already proved that. He deserves another shot.