COMMENTARY | After watching the 2013 New York Jets, there is no doubt that GM John Idzik made the right call in retaining Rex Ryan. If he hadn't, we would've found out the GM was canning Rex from the onset and that this season couldn't save him no matter what. The 8-8 season for the Jets proves Ryan overachieved and it turns out Idzik was taking Ryan's fifth season into account as he should've and decided before Week 17 to keep the embattled Ryan. With the season over speculation has arisen about whether or not the owner, Woody Johnson, and Idzik should offer Rex an extension beyond 2014, where Ryan's contract ends.For the record, Ryan wasn't what one would normally refer to as a 'lame duck' coach since he had another year on his contract going into this past season. With that said, Rex may have well been quacking heading into 2013. Nobody gave this team a shot of competing or keeping their coach beyond this season and Ryan answered barrages of job security questions on a weekly basis. For all intents and purposes, this past season was the contract year for Ryan. The year where you're fighting for your job for seventeen weeks, with a completely unknown future and a newly-hired GM that most likely wants to pick his own coach.
The only extension that works for these parties is a long-term one. Now that we know Rex is back, I would implore the Jets to look towards 2014 and let Rex coach out the final year of his contract without any extension. Sticking with the adage 'if it isn't broke don't fix it,' the Jets should have Rex coaching for his life once again. At the end of the season, Woody and Idzik can decide whether to move in a new direction without any strings attached.
It could be a recipe for complacency. Similar to what the Jets and their fans experienced following two consecutive trips to the AFC title game in Ryan's first two seasons. In the three years since, the Jets and Ryan are a combined 22-26 with zero playoff appearances. After the Jets nearly lived out Ryan's lofty guarantees, the organization seemed happy with shooting par for the course and took their foot off the gas. Or, it could be a slap in the face of Ryan--throwing the coach a bone for the overachievement that was 2013.
Let's see the bombastic, self-confident Ryan put all his chips on the table and bet on himself. There's no better time considering he's done his best coaching job to date with probably his worst roster from a talent standpoint. What's the worst that happens? The Jets are a lousy team with a record similar to what we expected from them in 2013? Okay, so Ryan spends a season or two as a defensive coordinator again before his hat is thrown back into the ring of NFL head coaches.
There are several aspects of this offseason that could have us singing a whole different tune about these Jets next year. With salary cap money to spend and a myriad of draft picks, Idzik is in a position to bolster the talent level of this team dramatically, especially at the wide receiver position. New York could even become a contender from the start. The Jets need some help in the secondary and on the offensive line. Maybe an improved Geno Smith can join up with the dominant defensive line and newly-acquired weapons to make something happen that none of us would've thought possible before 2013.
Rex needn't give in to the one-year extension that doesn't matter anyway. The best bet is to take the long shot; bet that 2014 can be a year for Ryan and the Jets to make some noise. Instead of a petty term of endearment, why don't the Jets stop worrying about contract extensions for coaches and get the talent level of this team up--it's the only way of figuring out if Ryan will be the guy moving forward in the future. Let him coach for his life with the best group of players that Idzik can possibly assemble and then see how well he does. There is no excuse for Woody or Idzik and come training camp 2014, they'll be no excuse for Rex either and we'll have our answers soon enough.
Brian Sausa is a freelance journalist who contributes pieces on the Knicks and Jets to Yahoo Sports. Previously covered a variety of NY area teams for New York Sports World. Former intern UAlbany Sports Information Dept. Twitter @BrianSausa
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