Make no mistake about it. The Rex Ryan era ended this Sunday after the miserable 43-23 loss to the Buffalo Bills at Met Life Stadium. Whether the once brash, Super-Bowl pledging, "ain't here to kiss Bill Belichick's rings" coach is put out of his misery now or at season's end ultimately make little difference. He is finished; and so is Geno Smith, a one trick QB who can only handle one read (at best) and who stares for what seems an eternity (and in football terms is) to his intended receiver, before usually being picked. He would be better off seeking a profession where his staring talents can be gainfully employed (hunting?). John Idzik ought to have the decency to resign. Leaving a team with no secondary, with only alleged cornerbacks (thus called for reasons that defy common sense) and with plenty of un-utilized CAP space adds up to a cruel hoax for Gang Green nation and to a 1-7 team heading to disgraceful irrelevance rather than the playoffs. The NY Jets are a mess and an embarrassment. Crucially, certain lessons have to be internalized before hope (yes hope) enters the picture, possibly in dramatic fashion
Consider the following:
Too much love
It is well documented that Woody Johnson really, really likes Rex Ryan. John Idzik could only get his job by accepting to keep Rex Ryan. But football is not about loving. It is about winning. In retrospect, Rex should have probably departed with Mark Sanchez; but Rex is also guilty in having his love for the 'Sanchize' cloud his better football judgment. Lest we forget, he had his QB's jersey number tattooed on his body (!), an act of misguided faith and devotion unparalleled in NFL coaching lore (and that says a lot); and the NY Jets also love, nay adore their coach. But it is exactly this love-fest that put the team to an irrevocable path to ruin. Woody Johnson should heed the words of the Florentine Renaissance philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli that "It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both." Ultimately, too much love and too little fear led to complacency and to subpar performances across the board.
Forgetting that it is a passing league
Which means you need a QB who can pass. There is no escaping this central tenet of the contemporary NFL. Perhaps you can mask it a bit. A defense of historic capabilities can even win the Super Bowl with only an average QB (think of the 1985 Chicago Bears and the 2000 Baltimore Ravens); and the Jets impressive defense came close twice (but not close enough). Nevertheless, ground and pound will not do; and if there are gaping holes in your defense coupled with an inexperienced QB, you are doomed to be like, well, the 2014 NY Jets.
Not doing things in the right order
Look at any successful NFL franchise and you will see that tradition, experience and common sense dictate that things be done a certain way: the owner hires a general manager who hires his coach and his QB. When the combination works and pieces are added to the teams armory, the results can be magical. But ignore these basic 1-2-3 steps and you are bound to get dysfunction and problems; which is exactly the case with the NY Jets did.
Is there still hope for the NY Jets? The answer is a resounding yes once we get past this season of our collective discontent. First, we will inevitably have firings and cuts. The old order of things will be no more. Secondly, our dreadful performance this season will inevitably lead to a high draft pick and a new chance to find the true successor to Joe Namath. Third, the NY Jets fan base is resilient, faithful and not easily discouraged. If we survived the Rich Kotite era, we can easily go through this. Fourth, we have our own stadium, superb practice facilities and a small core of excellent players around which the team can be rebuilt. Finally, like the successful businessperson that he is, Woody Johnson will no doubt learn from past mistakes and then take the broom and kick the bums out. The sooner, the better.