Why the New York Jets Need to Give Rex Ryan Another Season

Aidan MackieSenior Analyst IOctober 22, 2013

Sep 12, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan reacts during the second half of a game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

In August, ESPN ranked the New York Jets dead last in their preseason power rankings. 

Yahoo Sports! predicted Gang Green to go 5-11. 

And CBS Sports had them winning between three and four games. 

Fans and experts everywhere had given up on the Jets during the preseason, and who could blame them?

New York had been stripped of 11 of its 22 starters from 2012. Darrelle Revis, Mike DeVito, Sione Pouha, Brandon Moore, LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell, Matt Slauson, Bryan Thomas, Bart Scott, Shonn Greene and Eric Smith were all gone. 

In addition to their losses, the Jets had a quarterback controversy between the much-maligned Mark Sanchez and rookie Geno Smith and had failed to make a major impact on the free-agent market. 

Rex Ryan is responsible for the majority of the Jets' wins over the Patriots in the Belichick-Brady era.
Rex Ryan is responsible for the majority of the Jets' wins over the Patriots in the Belichick-Brady era.Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The team was going to finish last in the AFC East. Rex Ryan was going to lose his job and maybe his chance of ever being a head coach in the NFL again. 

Seven weeks through the season, these predictions couldn't be more wrong. 

The Jets sit at 4-3, just one game behind the Patriots for first place in the division. The team has beaten the likes of the Falcons and Patriots and looks primed to compete for a playoff spot. 

Geno Smith has been superb at times and the defense has been stout, but the real reason for the Jets' success lies with Rex Ryan himself. 

Ryan has coached his butt off and then some. He has lit a fire underneath a team that was left for dead in the preseason. He has built a contender not just for this season, but beyond. 

As usual, Ryan's success can largely be credited to his ability as a defensive play-caller. Ryan has single-handedly turned one of the league's youngest and most inexperienced defensive units into one of the best. 

Ryan's defensive starting 11 consists of just four players (Muhammad Wilkerson, David Harris, Antonio Cromartie and Calvin Pace) who started on the team a year ago.

However, the unit ranks fourth in the NFL in total yards allowed per game, third in yards allowed per play, fourth in opposing third-down percentage, fourth in first downs allowed, second in rushing yards allowed per game, 10th in passing yards allowed per game, third in sacks, and first in rushing yards allowed per attempt. 

That's pretty impressive. 

New York' Jets 2013 Defense
CategoryStatisticNFL Rank
Total Yards Allowed Per Game302.64th
Total Yards Allowed Per Play4.63rd
Opposing 3rd Down %344th
First Downs Allowed1194th
Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game77.72nd
Rushing Yards Allowed Per Attempt3.11st
Passing Yards Allowed Per Game224.910th
Sacks243rd
All stats courtesy of NFL.com

But everyone knows Ryan is a defensive mastermind and terrific motivator. His real development has come through the way he handles in-game situations and the media. 

In the past few seasons, the Jets were plagued by Ryan's bombastic attitude towards the media and questionable in-game decisions. This year, that's all changed. 

Rex has not only shut his mouth for the good of his team, he's been smart in the way he handles key moments. 

He even told referees to look out for the Patriots' use of an illegal maneuver on field goals before last Sunday's game according to Rich Cimini of ESPN. That illegal maneuver won New York the contest. 

Ryan has matured as both a head coach and a play-caller, and it has been key to New York's surprise success. Kicking him to the curb now would stunt many young defensive players' developments and put one of the finest coaches in the league on the open market. 

Rex Ryan will be in New York in 2014. And that's exactly where he belongs.