The New York Jets will most likely be embroiled in another quarterback search this offseason—the only ingredient this controversy is missing is Tim Tebow—but if they don't win at least two of the final four games of the season, they can add a coaching search to their offseason to-do list.
Aside from a string of three losses that have knocked the Jets almost completely out of the playoff picture, Rex Ryan's decisions have directly led to the team's struggles and have perpetuated the idea that while he is a great defensive coordinator, he is not suited to run a team—or at least not this one.
Ryan is really starting to embody Albert Einstein's definition of insanity, but it wouldn't take the German-born physicist's brain to do the math on safety Ed Reed.
At this stage of his career, it's clear that Reed's eyes and mind work a lot faster than his legs, and he's been exposed as a result.
Einstein didn't know anything about football, but he could probably tell you Reed was responsible for this deep strike from Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco to speedster Jacoby Jones.
Ryan, however, would tell you no such thing.
"I'm not going to pin it on any one individual," Ryan said, according to Neil Best of Newsday. "Certainly not on one guy. Certainly not Ed Reed. He'd probably be third on that list, in all honesty."
He missed a tackle of Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline that resulted in a touchdown.
Dee Milliner was benched for the same thing, so at least the precedent was set and maintained.
Reed will remain the starter, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post (what was it I was saying about the definition of insanity?) and all Jets fans can do is relive memories of Antonio Allen shutting down Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Ryan continues to bench rookie quarterback Geno Smith for his abysmal play, only to hand him the starting job again the very next week. Yanking him in the fourth quarter of blowout losses to the Bengals and Bills is different from doing so in the second half of what was essentially an elimination game. So obviously, this had a different feel to it.
Smith hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in 21 quarters. His punishment? Spending two quarters on the bench before Ryan pulled yet another quarterback okey-doke. This is the second straight season where the Jets have gone from the verge of playoff contention to the brink of disaster.
Make no mistake; the shortcomings of the offense are not entirely a result of poor play from their quarterback.
"To me, I just look at Geno as a guy (who), as I've said, I think he's got a chance, a chance to be a really good quarterback," Ryan said. "One thing about Geno that’s been impressive, he's been through it already. He's has the ups and downs and all that type of stuff. His perseverance is impressive to me."
It's going to take perseverance from way more than just Smith if the Jets offense is going to get off the ground. It is in need of an overhaul from top to bottom. The blame for that falls square on the shoulders of the general manager—formerly Mike Tannenbaum, now John Idzik.
The situation with Reed, however, reflects more on Ryan than it does on anyone else. Whether it's out of a sense of obligation to help Reed end his career on a positive note or simply trying to be a good friend, Ryan is clearly letting his emotions get in the way of the football team.
"Look, the way I am, I could say absolutely yes," Ryan said in mid-November when initially asked about the prospect of signing Reed. "I would like him on our team. And I'll say that knowing that you guys know me. I'd like to have Brandon Moore on the team. I'd like to have Alan Faneca on the team. Anybody that I've ever coached, that bled for me, I want them. Trevor Pryce, if Trevor called, I'd love to have Trevor on the team. That's how I feel."
Trevor Pryce, people. The same Trevor Pryce that's been out of football since 2010.
Ryan's stubbornness might be his undoing, but his questionable decision-making predates this season.
The Jets may not be in such a sticky situation at quarterback were it not for Ryan's unseemly decision to put veteran quarterback Mark Sanchez in the lineup in the fourth quarter of a preseason game.
Ryan can't even call on his calling card, the defense, as a reason to save his job. The Jets rank 25th in scoring defense and could finish outside the top 10 in total defense for the first time since Ryan took over in 2009. Some of that might be due to a drop-off at talent—they traded Darrelle Revis this offseason, Antonio Cromartie has taken a step back and first-round pick Milliner has been a complete bust to this point.
|Jets pass defense, 2013|
|BUF||EJ Manuel (2)||39||70||55.7||488||7||3||0||91.8|
|NE||Tom Brady (2)||41||85||48.2||413||4.9||1||1||61.5|
Sure, Ryan showed us he still "has it" when it comes to drawing up a good game plan to shut down top quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan, but some of that coaching magic appears to have worn off when he's letting the likes of Andy Dalton, EJ Manuel and Ryan Tannehill have their way with his defense.
Without question, the development of the young defensive line has been the biggest bright spot for the Jets this year. The coaching staff has played a part in the upward trajectory of that group, but Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Damon Harrison and Kenrick Ellis will not suddenly cease to stop the run if Ryan is no longer the coach.
There are still pockets of Jets fans that remind the world just how low the expectations were for the team entering the 2013 season. Many others, however, have seen all they need to know that Ryan's time is running up.
No one expected them to be in contention for the playoffs at any point. They were supposed to enter the bye week at 3-6 or worse. They shattered those early expectations. Then, they crushed the hopes and dreams they'd created through showing a pulse when they flatlined after their bye week.
The lack of talent hasn't helped, but the Jets are suffering many of the same fates that have doomed them in years past. Idzik had no reason to keep Ryan beyond the 2012 season.
Keeping him after 2013? That might also fall under the definition of insanity.
Erik Frenz is also a Patriots/AFC East writer for Boston.com. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand or via team news releases.
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