New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan is not one for subtlety, and he's keeping no secrets from his team with regard to the apparent tenuousness of his job security.
Ryan reportedly told his players that he is going to be fired, imploring them to "fight with him" for the final two games of the 2013 regular season, according to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer:
"Rex Ryan told his players in team meeting last night that word on street is that he's getting fired and asked players to fight w him these last 2 weeks," said Glazer's extended tweet.
General manager John Idzik is in the midst of his first season in charge of personnel decisions and nailed at least one of his draft picks in first-round rookie defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson.
It is possible that Idzik will want his own preferred coach to helm the team, despite the fact that Ryan has done a respectable job overall.
That's exactly the impression Joel Corry of CBSSports.com gets, given the circumstances:
The 7-8 Jets are officially eliminated from the playoffs, per Seth Walder of the New York Daily News, which will mark the third consecutive season Ryan has not qualified for the postseason.
Walder documented what Ryan had to say earlier in the week on Monday, Dec. 16, about his capability to lead the Jets for the foreseeable future:
Of course I believe it. Of course. No question I believe it. There’s no doubt about it. I’m a competent guy, even though I know that will be questioned a million times forward and backwards. But I know I’m a good football coach, I believe in this team, I believe in this organization and I’m determined to bring a winner to this team.
Following New York's win over Cleveland, Ryan's players came to his defense, via Kimberley Martin of Newsday:
Ryan was also questioned following the victory, as documented by Rich Cimini of ESPN New York:
"Whether the report is accurate or not, I'm going to tell you this: Those things will stay in-house," Ryan said after the 24-13 win over the Cleveland Browns at MetLife Stadium.
Ryan sidestepped questions about his future. The only thing he said was that he hasn't received any word from ownership on his job status for 2014.
"I know I have a contract for next year," he said. "What I do know, guys, is that I'm coaching this team. I've said this all season long: My job is to focus on the present and what's right now."
In the magnified media environment of New York, Ryan's recent results don't do anything for a coach's status. Before then, though, Ryan guided the Jets to the AFC Championship Game in each of his first two years.
Idzik drafted Geno Smith in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft, and despite beating out Mark Sanchez in preseason for the starting job, the young QB has had a rather disastrous maiden campaign with 21 interceptions and a 62.9 passer rating.
If the Jets had better quarterback play, they might be preparing for a run toward the playoffs. Instead, Ryan appears to be a lame-duck coach despite his frequent defensive genius and decent job with a team that has severe depth and talent issues.
Without the stability and swagger that Ryan has brought at least to the defense, the franchise's future looks even more ominous.