Somewhere between the Jets 8-8 finish of two years ago and 6-10 record of last year, a fairly substantial portion of the media (both in NY and on national level) elected to turn their sights on coach Rex Ryan. Posting consecutive losing records hasn’t helped matters, but in their minds the man with the bravado, swagger, and defensive acumen that they initially loved, the man that led them to the cusp of two Super Bowl appearances, had turned into the ringleader of an undisciplined band of misfits. There is blood in the water and the sharks are circling, and be it Gary Myers, Mike Lupica, Stephen A. Smith, Ian O’Connor, Mike Greenberg, Colin Cowherd, or worst of all Rich Cimini, every move made by this coach and franchise is open for nonstop review and mockery.
With external pressure at an all-time high and internal pressure simmering due to the arrival of new GM John Idzik, Rex is essentially coaching for his job this year. What will it take for him to survive the axe? Barring a Woody Johnson intervention on his behalf, probably somewhere in the neighborhood of seven or eight wins along with a clear indication that the rebuilding job is going as planned. With this as a backdrop, I will monitor the progress of my Jets on a weekly basis and try and gauge the prospects of Rex keeping his job.
Week 1 opponent: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Takeaways: With Rex back calling the defense, his group played a solid game. Analysts like to get on him for only drafting defensive players, but that front four led by Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson were a handful in this one and made life difficult for Josh Freeman and Doug Martin. If they win the battle in the trenches and continue to generate pressure without having to blitz, they have a shot to remain competitive in a number of games. Getting Quinton Coples back in a few weeks will only make the line deeper. Cromartie and Milliner had trouble containing Vincent Jackson throughout, some of which was to be expected since the team was gearing up to stop the run…and some due to the fact that Jackson is really good.
Geno Smith might not have been Aaron Rodgers, but after suffering through years of the ”Sanchise” and all of his nonsense, I thought he had a respectable debut. The game-plan wasn’t overly complicated, and for the most part, new OC Marty Mornhinweg trusting his QB put him in positions to succeed (though he needs to ditch his Wildcat package stat). When Geno ran into trouble, he relied on tight-end Kellen Winslow, a player left on the scrap heap who somehow transformed himself back into the guy who starred at the “U” once upon a time. The running game couldn’t get anything going; not much of a surprise seeing how Tampa Bay boasted the NFL’s top run defense last year. Note to future opponents of the Bucs: If you see Dashon Goldson bearing down on you, it is in your best interest to get on the ground.
New York caught an unbelievable break with Lavonte David committing a personal foul on Smith with literally seconds remaining in the game. This snafu set the stage for Nick Folk’s game-winning field goal, final score 18-17.
Rex Watch: Remaining wins needed to keep job – 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Who’s next: Thursday night at New England