Thoughtful coverage for thinking fans.
– By Craig Hoffman –
Imagine for a brief moment that the off-season plan for the New York Jets is not just to fix the cap, get younger and reload the talent base via the draft. What if a hidden agenda is also in operation? Is it possible that the Jets are moving away from Rex Ryan’s guys and might have a very different draft philosophy to the one that many think they do? Maybe they’re not planning to draft players that fit Ryan’s system at all, but are instead about to opt for the best available player so that in 2014 the defense doesn’t need to be rebuilt again due to an already planned coaching change.
It has been quietly whispered in other places that maybe Ryan is being set up to fail this year; with player defection, a potential trade of Darrelle Revis, and a general lack of talent all being cited as supporting evidence. A case could be made that the John Idzik revolution actually goes beyond that and possibly even extends as far as a complete change in organizational philosophy: Gone are grand proclamations of future success or even statements of unbridled optimism – they are instead replaced with media silence and tempering of expectations. The bombastic coach who inspired his men with his undying belief and bravado has been muted and forced to conform – not exactly strong suits for Ryan.
Everybody knew it was a no-brainer that Ryan guys Bart Scott and Eric Smith would be cut immediately due to bloated salaries coupled with eroding abilities. But the losses of Sione Pouha and Mike Devito were a bit more curious. Sure we knew that after an injury filled year-and-a-half Pouha was going to be forced to take a pay cut and Devito would have competition for his services from a few teams. But it was the lack of attention paid to these issues that raised the red flags. Why wait until Devito was boarding a plane to Kansas City before putting forth a firm offer? What would he have accepted if the Jets had made more effort during negotiations at the NFL Combine? Wouldn’t a player who prides himself on loyalty have been more apt to stay if that loyalty was reciprocated through more consistent contact and reassurance of his place here?
As for Pouha, almost everyone believed that he would have taken the pay cut – if offered – or even have signed a minimum salary ‘prove-it’ deal because he loves it here. Instead he was just cut. From a football standpoint it is understandable why they would cut an injured Pouha or not overpay Devito, but their lack of interest in two locker room leaders with tight connections to Ryan forms the interesting point here. The same goes for Brandon Moore, who at 32 has skills that are slowly declining but even so, he could still have been a one or two-year stopgap so that it would not have been necessary to replace two guards in one year. He claims that the Jets have had little to no contact with him. Moore was also a locker room leader and a Ryan guy.
Most complex of all is the Revis situation. This has already been written about ad nauseum, so there is no need to rehash the facts here. Instead, let’s just remember that Revis is so important to Rex Ryan that during his 2010 holdout Ryan went to his home looking for him and then personally stepped into the negotiation thereby facilitating the meeting that eventually led to the situation’s resolution. Coach Ryan built his defense around the fact that Revis would take out the opponent’s number one receiver so that the rest of the unit could be aggressive. Ryan simply cannot like the hardline stance that the front office has taken with Revis. The organization’s need to rebuild and acquire draft picks is at odds with Ryan’s need to win and save his job.
The situation that Ryan is in now is akin to the Kobayashi Maru test from Star Trek – the test that was intentionally designed so that it was practically impossible to succeed. Can Rex Ryan bring together a young team now that he has practically no veteran leadership to help him in the locker room? Can he continue to be himself behind closed doors while being muted publicly? Will he be able to simplify his system to fit this young team with as many as seven new starters on defense? Will he be able stand up to the pressure of the media looking for his head on a platter? If he can he will prove to be the leader that the Jets need going forward.
But if he can’t, he will be Rexecuted.
Is Ryan being set up for a fall? Or is it high time he was reined in and managed by a strong figure like Idzik? Let us know in the comments section below.