Thus far, taking the New York Jets to consecutive AFC title games is Rex Ryan's best coaching feat of his career. He'll need an even better coaching effort this season to ensure he's on the sidelines in 2013.
Based on the current circumstance the Jets find themselves in four games into the 2012 season, Ryan will be facing the most arduous task of his tenure with Gang Green.
Gone is Darrelle Revis. Santonio Holmes could be joining him on IR soon. His once vaunted defense is allowing 172.8 rushing per game (Sure, some garbage time yards are included, but 172.8 is a far cry from what we've seen from the Jets' run defense in recent memory).
The "ground and pound" running game is averaging 3.2 rushing yards per game.
The future for the Jets, well, it doesn't appear to be bright.
So, on the verge of being two years removed from the AFC championship game, what does New York have to accomplish for the remainder of the 2012 season for Ryan to remain the coach?
It is important to remember that Ryan did indeed lead his club to two-straight trips to the conference championship game.
That hasn't been forgotten, and frankly, it shouldn't.
But the NFL is a production, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league, and if Ryan follows those triumphs with consecutive seasons in which his club fails to make the postseason, he'll be on the hot seat.
However, do the Jets need to make the playoffs in order for him to keep his job?
I can't go that far.
Any outside observer can see that the Jets are a flawed club in many key areas. With four divisional games remaining and five of the last eight games on the road, finishing the year with a winning record with this Jets team would be a miraculous achievement for any coach.
If Ryan can orchestrate a season in the six-to-eight win range, he should be the team's coach next year.
Actually, it'll be more about how the Jets play in the final 12 games of the season.
If they demonstrate resiliency and are relatively competitive even in defeat, he deserves another shot as the head coach with a team that'll almost assuredly be reconstructed in the coming years.
If they offer up a handful of duds like the embarrassment at home against the San Francisco 49ers, Ryan may be looking for a defensive coordinator job this January.
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