The Jets highs in January turned into lows long before the start to this season
Following an 8-8 season in which he coached the Jets to a tie for second place in the AFC East, Rex Ryan’s contract was extended by the team until the end of the 2015 season. While New York missed the playoffs for a third straight season, the dysfunction of the franchise finally looked as if it was beginning to fade.
Ryan’s extension came after rumors of his job security being threatened surfaced throughout last season. After leading the team to three wins in their final four games in 2013, Ryan’s team has started the season with a season opener win and four straight losses.
“I apologize to our fans, the ones who are left,” Ryan said following a 31-0 loss to the Chargers on Sunday.
While that apology is warranted, Ryan should not be delivering it. The strong finish to the 2013 campaign did not translate into the things that are out of Ryan’s control.
General manager John Idzik was able to make some additions, bringing in Eric Decker from the AFC champion Denver Broncos to serve as the team’s top target in the passing game. The wide receiver signed a five-year, $36.25 million deal in March. Decker currently sits at 90th in the league with 14 receptions on the campaign and he missed out on Sunday’s game in San Diego due to a hamstring injury. Money well-spent, right?
Idzik also brought in Michael Vick with a one-year, $4 million deal. The four-time pro bowler and the #1 draft pick in 2001, Vick made an appearance in Sunday’s contest in San Diego and completed eight of 19 passes for 47 yards. That’s a 34-year old quarterback who has run for over 5,000 yards in a nutshell. Vick’s simply not where he was because of the wear-and-tear of the league, which is why Geno Smith will return to the starting job this week against Denver.
While Idzik’s additions haven’t enhanced the offense, that’s not the worst issue. It’s the lack of talent on the defensive side of the ball that has still not been addressed in New York. The Jets have given up over 237 passing yards per game. The reason why isn’t that hard to explain. New York elected to make second-year cornerback Dee Milliner as its top man in the secondary. Milliner awarded the Defensive Rookie of the Month in December of last year. Apparently, that was enough to make the 23 year-old the Jets’ primary cornerback. Milliner has already missed time this season due to an ankle injury.
This came after the Jets elected to cut Antonio Cromartie, who is now starting for the 3-1 Arizona Cardinals. Idzik signed Dimitri Patterson, who made the Jets the seventh team that he has signed on to in his 10 NFL seasons, but the cornerback skipped the team’s third preseason game and was then cut. New York has tried to work safety Antonio Allen into the cornerback position while Darrin Walls has been placed in at corner, but the two don’t even combine for over six years of experience in the NFL.
Ryan can only do so much with the talent he’s been given. Idzik’s decision to keep the head coach brought a sense that the new front office moved in before the season was pleased with the Ryan, who kept his job after the Jets changed regimes in the 2013 offseason.
But what help has Idzik delivered?
Ryan said in May that “teams won’t want to play us in 2014.”
While the head coach has always carried a bold reputation with him, it’s tough to be bold and execute with a lack of support from the top.
This time, Ryan is not the ringmaster of the Jets’ chaos.
Idzik should be the one apologizing.
John Fanta can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @GPhillips2727.