Now that the New York Jets have retained head coach Rex Ryan, it is time for us to examine his first major decision of the 2014 season: whether to keep or ditch the assistant coaches with expiring contracts.
Actually, hold that thought. General manager John Idzik may want a more extensive housecleaning. With that in mind, we might as well assess every one of Ryan's principal assistants, then make the call on their 2014 status.
One coach needs replacing. Linebackers’ coach Brian VanGorder is leaving the Jets to become Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator.
The other decisions are less clear-cut. It's not the assistant coaching that caused the Jets to play inconsistently, it's the inconsistent levels of talent on the team. For example, defensive line coach Karl Dunbar has been mentioned as a target. It's true that the defensive line's sack rate declined significantly after the bye week.
There's an easy explanation that does not involve coaching incompetence. It is that Jets opponents recognized the line as the key to the defense and focused on stopping it. The relative lack of talent elsewhere, especially in the secondary, made it difficult for the jets to compensate. Dunbar's coaching had nothing to do with it.
Keep that in mind as you read these verdicts. It won't be the end of the world if all of these assistants return, regardless of their verdicts here. What will be a shame is if the 2014 draft and free agent season fail to upgrade the team's personnel and make it easy for the coaches to look good.
It is time to meet these assistants and assess their fates.