Posts Tagged ‘John Idzik’

Rex Ryan set to return next season as Jets knock off Dolphins in final game

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – On the heels of a feel-good, 20-7, win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Jets owner Woody Johnson and general manager John Idzik ended weeks of speculation by announcing that Rex Ryan will return as head coach next season.

Saddled with rock-bottom expectations and the notion that he wouldn't be around much longer, Rex Ryan took the Jets to an 8-8 record in 2013 and will return next season, according to owner Woody Johnson.

“After five years of looking at Rex, it’s pretty obvious he’s a good coach,” Johnson told SNY after the game. “This is the start of something really big for the New York Jets.”

Idzik also broke his radio silence after the game, acknowledging that Ryan will return next season, although he would not comment on Ryan’s contract, which runs out at the end of 2014.

“It was a great feeling that we had. It started from day one with me,” said Idzik. “The feeling we had inside was that this was a pretty good pairing.”

The Jets aren’t playoff bound, finishing off at 8-8, but won back-to-back games for the first time all season, and relished the role of spoiler, knocking the Dolphins out of the postseason race.

In a season marked with struggles, the rookie class shined on the final day for the Jets, with Geno Smith, Sheldon Richardson and Dee Milliner all turning in great performances.

Smith played his second straight turnover-free game, passing for 190 yards and rushing for 44 yards and a touchdown. Milliner intercepted Dolphins’ quarterback Ryan Tannehill twice, his second straight game with a pick, and Richardson scored his second touchdown of the season.

“We knew we were a better team than showed up against Miami [the last time], certainly,” Ryan said. “That was the main driving force of it, to show where we’re at.”

Ryan said he found about the Jets decision to bring him back before the start of the game, during warm-ups.

“I love being the head football coach of the New York Jets, plain and simple,” he said. “I didn’t want to go out this way.”

The announcement about Ryan’s future coupled with the win over Miami ends the season a high note, but there are still many questions for the team moving forward.

The biggest of which will be, can the team be good enough to make the playoffs next year? That answer is pretty clear, according to Richardson.

“Next year, baby, we’ll be in the playoffs.”

Jets activate David Garrard, release Brady Quinn

Monday, October 21st, 2013

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – The Jets announced Monday that they will indeed active quarterback David Garrard to the 53-man roster, releasing quarterback Brady Quinn in the process.

The writing was on the wall for Quinn when the Jets decided to bring Garrard back for a two game “tryout” period, in which he was kept on the exempt list to see if he was healthy enough to play. In the end, the Jets bring back the quarterback they wanted all along to mentor rookie Geno Smith.

General manager John Idzik signed Garrard during the offseason, with the possibility of him competing for the starting job behind Smith and Mark Sanchez, but the veteran was forced to retire during minicamp because of chronic knee problems.

Still, time spent on the shelf (and playing flag football with his wife) allowed Garrard to get healthy, never losing the itch to play.

“When I left, I knew I just needed time to get away, and let my body heal up,” said Garrard upon returning. “My knee was truly bothering me. I just took the whole summer and relaxed. I didn’t do anything. I didn’t do any kind of conditioning.”

“I don’t want to turn 50 one day and think back and say, ‘what if I just called somebody,’” he said.

Looks like he made the right choice.

Great expectations: Jets are silencing doubters

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Florham Park, NJ – The Jets were a bad football team a year ago.

Like inventing a new word for bad, bad.

They were 28th in the league in offense, 30th in passing and their usually dominant defense sprung leaks, ranking 26th against the run.

Football Outsiders ranked the Jets 27th in total DVOA and they missed the playoffs for the second straight time in the Rex Ryan era.

But that was last season, and like a decaying zombie corpse that just won’t die (no matter how many times you beat it over the head with a shovel), the Jets are finding out that the stench of the buttfumble will be hard to outrun.

“A lot has been said about this football team,” Ryan said before the season started. “There are a lot of non-believers out there.”

Rex Ryan is quietly proving why the Jets are far from the worst team in the league.

And there still are. But after a surprising 2-1 start, it’s time to entertain the possibility that the Jets are, well, a decent football team.

On Thursday, Ryan was confronted with that possibility when asked why he hasn’t chosen to revel in the team’s recent success.

“We’ll see,” he said with a smirk and a nod of his head, the old defiant Rex bubbling up to the surface. “There’s a long season ahead. I think I know what it’s going to look like but we’ll see.”

Yes, it’s a small sample size and, yes, one of those wins came on a last minute penalty and the other in spite of a team-record 20 penalties, but the Jets look vastly improved in several key areas, most notably on the defensive line and at quarterback.

A season ago, nose tackle Sione Pouha struggled with a back injury and the run defense suffered along with him – not so this season. In three games, the Jets defensive line is second best in all of football according to Football Outsiders, allowing an average of 79 rushing yards per game, which includes a 59-yard run by Bills running back Fred Jackson on a missed tackle.

Otherwise, the Jets have been dominate against the run, with undrafted nose tackle Damon Harrison being an impressive surprise amongst first round talent in Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples and Sheldon Richardson.

Despite his one solo tackle against the Bills, “Snacks” was moving blockers all over the place, grading out as one of the top defensive tackles in the league by Pro Football Focus.

Then there’s Eugene Smith, who despite seven rookie-type turnovers, has done just enough to get the Jets offense off the ground.

Last season, Mark Sanchez was the worst quarterback in the league. And not like the hyperbolic, talk radio, Skip Bayless kind of  “worst.” Literally, he was the worst quarterback in the league, ranking 36th in total QBR behind the likes of Brandon Weeden, Blaine Gabbert and Matt Cassel.

Think about that. Worse than Brandon Weeden.

Sure, Geno has benefited from the return of Santonio Holmes, an improved offensive line and Marty Mornhinweg’s system, but his QBR through three games is almost double that of Sanchez’s and is currently better than Robert Griffin III, Eli Manning and Sam Bradford.

It’s clear now, Smith is a big upgrade over Sanchez. He has the ability to extend plays and take shots downfield. The 331 pass yards he hurled against the Bills didn’t seem like a fluke and if he continues to improve the offense could be miles better than a year ago – let’s face it, it already is.

The Jets know what’s been said about them, from circus-talk to 32nd in the power rankings and dreams of Jadeveon Clowney.

“We knew that people weren’t going to give us much of a chance,” said Leger Douzable, another surprising member of that improved defensive front. “We want for people to continue to not give us a chance because we love proving people wrong.”

Well, the Jets might not be sneaking up on people for much longer. Football Outsiders has their current mean win total at 8.7 after 50,000 simulations, meaning the Jets are shockingly projected to be in the 8-9 win range – within playoff striking distance.

Currently, Football Outsiders has the Jets playoff probability at 35 percent (which is up 14.7 percent from last week) and while that may not be realistic, it’s clear now, and for the foreseeable future, that the Jets are no longer a laughing stock.

“People are starting to talk about us,” said Douzable. “But we don’t want to listen to that we just want to get better.”

Jets were interested in EJ Manuel before draft

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

The Jets chose Geno Smith as the quarterback of the future – but they almost went with EJ Manuel.

Florham Park, NJ – Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel could’ve been a New York Jet.

In fact, he expected to be.

“Definitely,” Manuel said, when asked if he thought the Jets might draft him.

“I did think they were one of the teams that were very interested in me. I guess they just wanted to wait and go with a quarterback with their second round pick instead of their first two.”

That’s exactly what happened, as the Jets passed on Manuel with the ninth and 13th overall selections, allowing the Bills to nab him with the 16th pick. The Jets and new general manager John Idzik then snatched current starting quarterback Geno Smith with the seventh pick in the second round.

But that doesn’t mean the Jets weren’t interested in Manuel as well, bringing him in on one of their 30 out-of-town player visits before the draft.

“I had quite a bit [of contact with the Jets]. I met with coach [Rex] Ryan and a lot of their staff. I went up to the facility for a visit and I liked it a lot up there,” said Manuel. “I thought [the coaches] liked me a lot, and it just so happens that they didn’t choose me.”

In reality, the Jets didn’t pass on Manuel as much as the Bills pounced on him earlier than anyone expected.

Heading into last April’s NFL draft, the 6 foot 4, 237 pound senior out of Florida State was considered a second-round talent at best, that is, until the Bills shocked much of the football world taking him in the top half of the first round.

After two games, that move seems to have paid off for the Bills.

Ryan and the Jets will get their first hack at trying and stop Manuel and a young Bills offense on Sunday. An offense that took the New England Patriots down to the wire, mounted a comeback win over Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers and is ranked 10th in the league in Value Over Average by Football Outsiders.

On Wednesday, head coach Rex Ryan compared Manuel’s size and ability to Newton, a former No. 1 overall pick.

“I remember looking at Cam Newton once and thinking, ‘who is going to tackle him?’” said Ryan. “You kind of look at EJ Manuel the same way.”

It’s far too early, however, for the Jets to second-guess themselves for passing up on Manuel in the first. Especially when Smith has shown flashes of competency with much less talent around him —  and came almost a full round cheaper.

Nevertheless, the division rival Jets and Bills, and the futures of their rookie quarterbacks, seem to be linked for the foreseeable future.

“We definitely did our due diligence on [Manuel],” Ryan confirmed on Wednesday. “He was an outstanding young man, very impressive, no doubt … you can see why Buffalo is excited about him. He certainly was a guy we were looking at.”

Rex Ryan of old makes an unexpected appearance

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

Rex Ryan has been a shell of his former self as of late, but on Wednesday a glimmer of the old Rex shot through -- if only for a second.

Florham Park, NJ – When Rex Ryan rolled into town four seasons ago, he was gruff and unapologetic. He had Super Bowl aspirations, a highly touted rookie quarterback and a top-notch defense.

But as the bombast grew stale and the playoff returns diminished so did Ryan (literally and figuratively).

The old Rex, presumed dead, is now a person of the past, whittled away by unfulfilled guarantees, questionable coaching calls and an upper management muzzle. The man who stood at the podium on his first day, proclaiming he wasn’t going to kiss Bill Belichick’s rings, neutered, offering up only misdirections and disguised coverages.

So, it’s only fitting that on the day Ryan announced the starting of his second rookie quarterback in five seasons, he got back to his roots — if only for a second.

“A lot has been said about this football team,” he said before returning to his now patented coach speak. “There are a lot of non-believers out there.”

In that moment, he sounded confident, and although he wouldn’t say much else, you couldn’t help but sense a “you’ll see, you’ll all see” attitude pushing its way to the surface.

“We’re not hiding,” he said. “We’ll see what kind of team we have.”

Whether or not Ryan has the talent to prove the critics wrong is another story, however.

On Wednesday, the Jets announced that Geno Smith will indeed be the starter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, despite underperforming in his only extended preseason action. Mark Sanchez is still injured after being left in during the fourth quarter of preseason game. He walked into the locker room on Wednesday, only to turn around and not be seen again.

The entire Jets brain trust also made an appearance with both Woody Johnson and general manager John Idzik stressing the mantra of “competition.”

“The [quarterback] competition is not finished … The competition is ongoing,” said Johnson, making the cloud of confusion surrounding the team’s most important position all the more murky.

Idzik clarified by saying that the competition at every position is ongoing, which sounds more like an escape plan should things go wrong with Geno than a team-wide motivational tactic.

Still, the team seems to have a chip on it’s shoulder. Even Santonio Holmes, who hasn’t been optimistic about his return to the line-up, broke through his rehearsed routine when asked if the team is being underestimated.

“Right now in the power rankings, we’re ranking No. 32 in the NFL,” he said, referring to ESPN’s weekly rankings. “I think we probably couldn’t be happier than being off the radar of everybody.”

“We have a focus that’s on the team not on what everybody else thinks this team should be. We have a focus and a goal in mind to have the best 53 guys on this roster and go on and win with these guys that we have.”

As Holmes does, Ryan knows now more than ever what the non-believers are saying about his commitment to the team and his coaching ability. And no matter how hard  Idzik, or Ryan himself has tried to suppress it, the old Rex showed up on Wednesday.

As a glimmer of man not ready to go down without a fight.