How Rex Ryan Will Succeed
Count me among those who are sad and disappointed to see Rex Ryan fired as head coach of my beloved New York Jets. It's easy to understand the reasoning behind the decision, but all the related drama and disruption were avoidable.
The Ryan era in New York started well, with the Jets almost making it to the Super Bowl twice. Then things went south. This season was particularly painful as the team lost eight in a row, ending with a pathetic 4-12 record.
As the most visible part of the management team, Ryan took the blame. Yet the serial disappointments haven't been entirely, or even mostly, his fault.
Successful coaches get and need a lot of support from their front office, particularly in taking the lead for identifying and selecting good players. Jets’ owner Woody Johnson obviously believed the team wasn't getting that, because he also dismissed John Idzik, the general manager.
Believing the Jets would have been a strong National Football League contender under Ryan if he had been coupled with a stronger front office, I wonder if Johnson didn’t have a better option for next year – that is, retaining Ryan as head coach and taking bold steps to strengthen the front office.
I suspect it will be only a few weeks until Ryan lands a new coaching job. When that happens, I also suspect it won’t take him long to display his remarkable ability to connect with and motivate players -- one of his strongest attributes. And if he is supported by a strong front office, his accomplishments over time will likely be similar to those of Pete Carroll in Seattle, another head coach who excels in connecting with his players.
Many of us will be happy for Ryan if this occurs. He deserves better, especially given the media beating he received for something he was only partly responsible for. My fear is that the Jets, meanwhile, may end up wandering the NFL wilderness for a few years, lacking both a good coach and an infectious esprit de corps. If this were to happen, we die-hard Jets fan could even end up looking back at this season with some fondness -- and that would be really sad.
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