Rex Ryan: Five Moves He Needs To Make Now To Save the New York Jets' Season

Michael BaltonCorrespondent IDecember 9, 2010

Nothing to Smile About. Rex Ryan has got to make some big changes if his team is going to make the playoffs.
Nothing to Smile About. Rex Ryan has got to make some big changes if his team is going to make the playoffs.Chris Trotman/Getty Images

The Jets’ 45-3 loss to the New England Patriots threatens to throw the New York team into a tailspin and take them out of playoff contention. Head coach Rex Ryan has to make some major course corrections now if he expects to land in the Super Bowl in February.

1. Send Brian Schottenheimer Back to Manginiville.

Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has lost what little talent he once had for creating plays and directing the offense. You can always tell when a play is a Schottenheimer original. The Jets are the ones who looked confused, things are slow to develop, and the result is a negligible gain or a loss of yardage.

To make matters worse, Schottenheimer’s play-calling is going downhill. So much so, that it’s become a source of amusement for broadcast commentators. They are continually pointing out where Brian gets things wrong.  Passing when he should be running, running when we should be throwing, and lefting when he should be righting. Fact is, the Jets offense has been most effective this year when it is forced to improvise. Quarterback Mark Sanchez and his receivers have exhibited instinctual talents that are not being tapped by Schottenheimer’s lame plays.

Entrusting the Jets’ All-Star offense to Schottenheimer is like handing a new Ferrari to a 12-year-old. A better gift for Brian would be a copy of Madden 2011. That video game might teach him something about play-calling. Better yet, send Schottenheimer back to work for his old boss Eric Mangini, the former Jets’ head coach who is now in Cleveland

Why Schottenheimer wasn’t fired when Mangini was let go is another one of those Jets' mysteries that have been left unexplored. But it’s oversights like that that have kept the Jets from visiting the Super Bowl for 40 years. 


2. Find a New Placekicker.

You have to admire Nick Folk’s versatility. He misses long field goals. He misses short field goals. He misses field goals with the wind. He misses field goals against the wind.

The Jets knew of Folk’s limitations going in, yet they still hired him at the beginning of the season. In doing so, they ignored a basic tenant of the NFL: a team can’t be a championship contender with a practice squad placekicker.

Missed field goals not only turn wins into losses. They demoralize the team, they kill momentum and they contribute to a losing attitude among the players. For all those reasons, Folk needs to be replaced immediately.


3. Cut the Clowning.

Who’s going to find a replacement placekicker? Why don’t you handle it, Rex? The head coach would have time to be involved in such key tasks if he didn’t spend so much time working on his comedy routines. It’s great to have fun with the New York media when you’re barely squeaking by the also-ran teams in NFL. But keep losing and the feeding frenzy will begin. 

Better to concentrate on coaching instead of on comedy. Anyway, Rex is already No. 1 on the NFL comedy charts. That Keystone Cops loss to New England has made him the laughing stock of the league.


4. Hand Over the Defense. 

No, the loss of Jim Leonhard didn’t cost the Jets 45 points in the New England loss, as Ryan glibly put it. But the Jets secondary was clearly lost in space without safety Leonhard directing the coverage. That’s a sign that Rex Ryan is not developing the strategic depth a team needs to succeed. Clearly, he is in over his head.

The best solution would be to hand over responsibility for his once mighty, now crappy, defense to defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, and let him do the job he is being paid for. The last few games indicate that Rex Ryan is burned out as a defensive coordinator, so a change to Mike Pettine could yield an immediate improvement. 

Ryan, meanwhile, could use the time that frees up to oversee the offense as well as defense. That would go a long way toward unifying a team which is in very much disarray at the moment.


5. Replace The Hype With Reality. 

Ryan reportedly buried the game ball from the loss to New England in a ceremony that was played out for the benefit of the entire team. Wrong again, Rex. All you’re doing is giving the players another indelible image that will remind them forever of the startling loss.

A better thing to do would be to announce that you’re infusing the team with a new positive attitude. Stop the slogans. Cut the childish flying around like deranged airplanes and start getting tough.

For instance, have all the receivers stay after class for extra work. Give Offensive Line Coach Bill Callahan two weeks to get his blockers back into shape or give him his walking papers. And hire the new offensive coordinator just for the rest of the season, so he’s on trial to perform well If he wants to keep the job.

Of course, Rex Ryan will put none of the above suggestions into action. He wouldn’t be Rex Ryan if he did. So Rex will continue to go on being Rex. The Jets will continue to go on being wrecks. And their fans can look back over 40 years and say “same old Jets.”