By Melanie Watson
The Jets have several areas of concern starting with their quarterback situation. With their starting quarterback listed as day-to-day near the end of the preseason, their only other option right now is going with the newly drafted Geno Smith who is not yet ready to lead this Jets team. While that’s a major question the Jets are facing right now, it’s not the only one. Is head coach Rex Ryan capable of leading the Jets anymore?
Ryan isn’t exactly the best at managing quarterbacks (see Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow and Tony Sparano) and the team clearly isn’t winning like they were two years ago. So how did Rex Ryan find himself in this situation?
Rex Ryan joined this team as head coach back in 2009 which is the same year the Jets drafted Mark Sanchez fifth overall. In his first year as coach, Ryan took it upon himself to eliminate all forms of distraction from the team so they could focus solely on bonding and winning games. That year the Jets made it to the AFC Championship game where they lost to the Indianapolis Colts 30-17. Not a bad year for the rookie head coach but the next season would prove to be a bit more rocky for Ryan.
Heading into his second season as head coach, Rex Ryan brought more attention to the team after boldly announcing the Jets as “soon to be champs”. During the same month, he received public criticism from former head coach Tony Dungy for his foul language. Additionally, cameras followed the team for the television series Hard Knocks. Suddenly the Jets find distractions all around them unlike the year before. However, they still managed to advance to the AFC Championship game yet again where they fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-19.
In his third season as head coach, the Jets began the season with an uncomfortable 2-3 record. Tension grew in the locker room and players began questioning the system of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Ryan backed away from his more “hands-on” approach with the team and gave his assistant coaches more leadership. The Jets failed to reach a playoff berth that year and Ryan made the telling revelation that he “lost the pulse of the team.”
The year 2012 would bring Tim Tebow and intense media coverage to the Jets. Fans vocalized that they wanted Rex Ryan to bench Mark Sanchez for Tim Tebow and the media echoed this sentiment. Then came the controversial decision to keep Tebow in the Thanksgiving Day game against the New England Patriots despite Tebow playing with two broken ribs. In the following game against the Arizona Cardinals, Ryan benched Tebow and chose Greg McElroy over the struggling Mark Sanchez. Sanchez was named as the starting quarterback a week later before playing poorly in a crucial game against the Tennessee Titans. This became the first losing season for the Jets under Rex Ryan as the team finished with a 6-10 record. Tebow, who was brought in to mentor Sanchez, was traded and the Jets GM was fired.
So here we are in preseason and the Jets are under pressure at Rex Ryan’s expense once again. Sanchez, their starting quarterback, is listed as day-to-day due to suffering a shoulder injury in a game he wasn’t supposed to play in. The only explanation Ryan gives at this point is that the Jets were trying to win – a preseason game. Ryan’s job has been in question for quite some time now and with a new GM presiding over him, one has to wonder how much longer he’ll be allowed to re-establish and prove himself as head coach. That could largely depend on how this Sanchez situation turns out at the start of the Jets season on Sept. 8.
However, it must be noted that Rex Ryan continues to excel in one area: defense. If the Jets defense can remain solid and win some games for Ryan, then he may be able to re-adjust his footing and stick around for a while longer.