Last year Ryan promised the franchise its first championship since man walked on the moon, mocked Tom Coughlin's Giants in the days preceding their Christmas Eve clash, and then watched his team implode before its big-brother neighbor landed in another ticker-tape parade.I was getting sick and tired listening to Rex shoot off his mouth each year about how the Jets were going to win the Super Bowl.
Allegedly humbled by the beatdowns and enlightened by the unnecessary stress he was putting on his players, Ryan opened 2012 by dialing back his outsize persona. That didn't work either, not even close. The Jets might be hearing him, but they're definitely not listening to him.
"I know our fans deserve a heck of a lot better than this," Ryan said.
Yes they do. They deserve better than Ryan's ever-weakening defense, better than Rex's blind devotion to Sanchez, better than his empty pledges that the Jets will rebound, and better than his call to suit up a battered Tebow.
Of the fans, Ryan said, "I don't blame them for booing me." At the end of his postgame news conference the coach was asked if he believes he'll make it to 2013.
"I do," he said, "and I think our team will play a heck of a lot better. And I don't believe anybody will ask that question by the time the year's over."
Even if the Jets win three or four of their final five against teams with a combined 17-33 record, Woody Johnson shouldn't be fooled into sticking with the same management group. Tannenbaum needs to go and Ryan's no-ring circus needs to go with him, and the billionaire needs to pick up the tab.
Johnson must lure a Payton or a Dungy, or the next college coach who can make the kind of transition to the NFL made by Jim Harbaugh, a 34-0 winner over Ryan in September. Rex coulda beena contenda, but now he's gone ahead and knocked himself out.
ESPN's James Walker expands on Ian O'Connor's comments above:
The 2012 season is over for the New York Jets. The New England Patriots made sure of it with a 49-19 blowout victory over New York on Thanksgiving night at MetLife Stadium.Remember long ago when Brett Favre was the Jets QB? I still think Brett could have gotten them farther than poor Mark Sanchez. Tebow would be better than Mark...
New York embarrassed itself with a comedy of errors, particularly during the 35 unanswered points by New England in the second quarter. The Jets dropped to 4-7 and their playoff chances are reduced to virtually zero.
From this point forward, it's time for the Jets to start thinking about 2013. New York still has five games left, but this is the start of a lengthy self-evaluation process for next season.
Here are the questions New York should consider:
Who is the quarterback?
It is clear that Mark Sanchez is not the long-term solution. Sanchez had four years to prove he is a franchise quarterback and is regressing. He is 12-15 as a starter the past two seasons.
New York must figure out in these final five games if Sanchez deserves to be the starting quarterback for a fifth year in 2013. Popular backup Tim Tebow is on the roster, and Jets fans are calling for Tebow to get a shot. At 4-7, it may be wise for New York to see what it has in Tebow.
But contractually for the long haul, the Jets may be stuck with Sanchez. He has a lot of guaranteed money next year with his recent contract extension. Going in a different direction would be horrific for New York’s salary cap and the bottom line.
This is a difficult decision for the Jets because Sanchez is not getting better. He is an average quarterback, at best, who can only thrive when everything is going well around him. If Sanchez remains the starter, the Jets could go through many of the same issues on offense next year.
Who stays and who goes?
Sanchez is contractually strapped to the Jets next season. But the Jets have several veteran free agents they can let go. Pending free agents like starting tailback Shonn Greene, tight end Dustin Keller and safeties LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell are all playing out the final five games of their contracts.
New York does not have a lot of cap room next year. Therefore, the Jets have a lot of decisions to make on veterans and whether they will stick around after this season.
The Jets are an older team that was built to win now. But they latched onto veterans too long and it's time to get younger and faster. A lot of players are auditioning for jobs in New York in the final month of the season.
Do Jets have the right GM and coach?
Jets owner Woody Johnson said a week ago that he didn’t sign up for 3-6. Well, the boss certainly didn’t sign up for a 30-point loss at home to their biggest rival on national television.
The Jets looked like the "Bad News Bears" at times Thursday, and that reflects on the coaching staff that prepared the team and the front office that put the team together. New York is a roster without much speed or depth, and that’s on general manager Mike Tannenbaum. The Jets also haven’t been well coached at times this year, and that’s on Rex Ryan.
I believe Ryan and Tannenbaum deserve another year. But performances like Thursday in a big game make this pair hard to defend.
Johnson will be watching closely how the Jets play in the final five games, and that could directly impact the future of New York’s head coach and general manager.
It's going to be a long five games for the Jets. But this team has a lot more questions than answers, and this is the time to start searching for solutions.