After the New York Jets beat the Miami Dolphins 20-7 to end their season, owner Woody Johnson announced that Rex Ryan would be the Jets’ head coach next year. Then, he backed that up by inking Ryan to a multi-year extension. Finally, the Jets’ make a smart move.
Yes, I understand that Ryan can be a bit of a blow-hard, but he is one of the best coaches in the NFL, and this year’s performance proves it. Every NFL pundit from the blow-dries at ESPN to myself and Ryan Meehan on Sports Blog Movement had the Jets written of as nothing more than a runaway train crashing into a burning mound of tires, all to a Nickelback soundtrack. We’re talking about a disaster of epic proportions. It seemed like such an easy bet; all the signs were there. This team was thinner on talent than an Ethiopian swimsuit model with a six-foot tapeworm, they were banking on a rookie quarterback, all of which made Ryan’s future seem as certain as hitting the trifecta at the dog track.
But instead of being the NFL doormat as we all expected, the Jets finished the season at a respectable 8-8, and were in the play-off conversation deep into December. Out of those eight wins, three were over play-off teams: Philadelphia, New England, and New Orleans. Even after the Jets were bounced from play-off contention, Ryan found a way to get his team to keep playing. In the last two week of the season, the Jets played harder than a lot of teams whose seasons still had hope; the Cowboys spring to mind.
What Ryan did with the Jets is to be commended. He is the clear choice for the AFC Coach of the Year. Even if you don’t buy the case based on what I’ve already mentioned, there is one argument that can’t be refuted. It’s based on the process of elimination.
Take any other AFC coach you deem worthy. To illustrate my point, I’ll start at the top any possible list and work my way down.
- John Fox – Sure, he’s led the Broncos to the Super Bowl, but they were expected to be there. Not to mention, he’s got a Hall-of-Fame quarterback.
- Bill Belichick – He took a perennial play-off contender deep into the play-offs, and he’s another guy with a quarterback soon to be getting his mail in Canton. Granted, Belichick deserves a shit-load of credit for getting all he could out of an aging and injury-depleted roster, but the fact remains he opened with a far better hand than Ryan.
- Andy Reid – Here’s a guy who took an underperforming team loaded with Pro Bowl talent, and got them to underperform at an even higher level. Say what you will , but the fact is this team pissed a trip to the Super Bowl down it’s leg, and has nobody to blame but themselves.
- Chuck Pagano – If the Colts could have managed just one play-off win, I’m probably not writing this article. Don’t even try to tell me the world wouldn’t love to find another cancer survivor to love now that all those yellow-bracelet-wearing LiveStrong types got butt-needle-fucked by Lance Armstrong. Not to mention, Andrew Luck is showing early, disturbing signs of an ability to be inconsistent in a world where the streets to success are paved with consistency.
- Marvin Lewis – BWWWWWAAAHHHHHHHAHHHHHHAAAAHHHH!!!!!!!! (deep, lung re-loading gasp) BWWWWWAAAHHHHHHHAHHHHHHAAAAHHHH!!!!!!!!
- Mike McCoy – This is the best alternative if you just can’t bring yourself to give the award to Ryan. McCoy managed to break a formerly unpenetrable barrier; he managed to get a team to not suck in the season immediately after the end of it’s Norv Turner era. Just ask the Raiders or the Redskins how huge that is.
When you look at the race for AFC Coach of the Year in those terms, Ryan becomes the clear choice. Sure, McCoy got his team into the play-offs, but then again, he had a top-flight quarterback and far more talent to work with than did Sexy Rexy. The Jets shocked everyone by finishing the season with eight wins, and the main reason that happened was Ryan. Simply stated, there was no better coaching performance in the AFC.