Given the New York Jets’ woeful 1-6 record, it might be easier to explain the Rex Ryan legacy by noting what he is not responsible for.
I can think of four things that you absolutely cannot pin on the Jets’ once-charismatic and now just beleaguered head coach:
1. The Ebola scare: No way Ryan can be faulted for any aspect of this scary situation.
2. ISIS: Again, Ryan had nothing to do with this dreaded organization — so just back off right now!
3. Neil Patrick Harris getting the gig as the next Oscars’ host: Not my first choice, but Ryan probably has no opinion.
4. U2’s questionable decision to sell out to Apple Inc.: Ryan makes millions of dollars a year — he can afford to buy an album on iTunes
But when we start to talk about the Jets, Ryan comes in for some heavy flak — and he deserves it all. The Jets have to be the most undisciplined team in the league. Yes, they run in bad luck — but you have to make your breaks, and the Jets bring it on themselves. Look at all of their damaging penalties and turnovers on the way to the franchise’s worst record in years. Is it my imagination, or do the Jets have the most 12-men-on-the-field penalties this year in football history?
I have gotten into the doleful habit of writing, “Only the NY Jets,” on Twitter, roughy 30 minutes after the start of one of their games. Who else but the Jets can invent new and ridiculous ways to lose football games week after week.
Remember week 2, in Green Bay, when the Jets blew a commanding 21-3 lead? A Jets touchdown was waved off when it was discovered that someone on the team, other than Ryan, had bizarrely called for a timeout a split-second before the play went off — in which the Jets scored a touchdown on a neat pass in the end zone.
Then there was last week, when the canny Tom Brady managed to completed a pass on 3rd down with 19 yards to go for a first down (third and goal to go, actually). All the Jets defense had to do was keep the New England Patriots out of the end zone and force them to kick a harmless field goal. Uh uh. The Pats scored on a TD pass and that was basically the game.
Actually, though, the Jets did have a decent shot when they lined up for a frantic 58-yard field goal with 8 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. They trailed 27-25, so the kick would determine the final score. Was there scarcely any doubt how it would turn out? The Patriots blocked the kick and, as they said with such eloquence in Goodfellas, dat was dat.
It is probably a chicken and egg debate about Jets quarterback Geno Smith, who has been known for missing a team meeting before a game in San Diego (his reported excuse was he didn’t account for the time difference — undisciplined player, right?), throwing costly interception, fumbling the ball, and throwing some horrific forward passes. But he also played a strong game against the powerful Patriots, with NO turnovers. So, maybe he is catching on.
No matter. And no matter that the Jets acquired potentially explosive receiver Percy Harvin last week from the defending champion Seattle Seahawks (if Harvin is so great then why did the champs deal him?). Ryan’s job appears to be in great jeopardy, and nobody would be surprised if he was fired the day after the desultory season ended. Most Jets fans are rooting for it, desperate to see some sign of change and improvement in the team, which hasn’t won a Super Bowl since Joe Namath electrified the football world on January 12, 1969.
Ryan’s legacy is bluster, hype, and foolishness. During his first two seasons as Jets’ coach, he inherited a strong team from the previous regime, and coaxed the Jets to reach the AFC Championship Game in 2009 and 2010. One game from the Super Bowl both times, the Jets lost to powerful Colts and Steelers squads, before crumbling. Now the team is punch line. It’s too bad.
The long-suffering Jets fans deserve better than to have to root for a buffoon of a coach, a work in progress at quarterback, and an overrated defense. The team needs a complete overhaul; chances are, Ryan won’t be on the scene to preside over it.
He is a good man and he loves his players. But that isn’t good enough.