NY Jets owner Woody Johnson must do what he can to keep Rex Ryan happy
NY Jets owner Woody Johnson must do what he can to keep Rex Ryan happy, and GM Mike Tannenbaum, offensive coordinator Tony Sparano may need to go
The Jets’ infrastructure is on the brink of blowing up, and Woody Johnson should quickly make Rex Ryan happy or he could be starting over with his fifth coach since he bought the Jets in 2000.
Ryan has been miserable — morose might be a better description — ever since the embarrassment of the Butt Fumble game against the Patriots on Thanksgiving Night, when the Jets lost by 30 and left their fans with no hope.
As the Daily News is reporting, a team source said Ryan believes he’s better off getting fired if Johnson isn’t willing to invest money to get the anemic offense straightened out, and that likely starts with Ryan wanting Johnson to swallow what remains of offensive coordinator Tony Sparano’s contract and to spend to bring in quality offensive players.
If Johnson doesn’t give in to Ryan, it could lead to a showdown and prompt a mutual parting, with Johnson buying out the two years and more than $6 million left on Ryan’s deal at a reduced cost.
It would be a pathetic ending to Ryan’s four years with the Jets after he came in promising a trip to the White House. I don’t think Johnson wants to fire Ryan, and you can be sure he doesn’t want to pay off his entire contract.
What should Woody do?
The successful teams have continuity and stability. They don’t start over every four years.
It’s in Johnson’s best interests to buy Ryan’s happiness. He’s a good coach and is not the problem. He is passionate about winning and he knows how to win. This is a personnel issue that can be partially addressed in free agency. Not even Bill Belichick could win with this Jets roster, especially on offense where GM Mike Tannenbaum has put together the worst collection of skill-position players in the NFL and that was true even before Santonio Holmes, the only legitimate threat, was lost for the season with a foot injury in the fourth game.
Tannenbaum is hanging by a thread. The best-case scenario for him is nothing changes. But another possibility is he keeps his job but loses his personnel power and final say. The worst-case scenario is Johnson fires him, but with two years remaining on his contract, Tannenbaum would at least collect his money.
Ryan and Tannenbaum made two huge mistakes in the offseason. The first was hiring Sparano, an old school coach with old school ideas. Ryan controls his staff, so this one is on him. Give an assist to Tannenbaum, who consulted with his mentor Bill Parcells, who once hired Sparano as the Dolphins head coach. Surely, Parcells gave Sparano good grades. Ryan really whiffed here.
Of course, Tim Tebow was the other big mistake. Sources insisted Thursday night that Tebow was Tannenbaum’s idea and not some PSL plot by Johnson. Tannenbaum knows Tebow was a mistake. But Tebow would not be a Jet unless Ryan had signed off on it. Once the Jets saw Tebow practice, they knew they didn’t even want him running the Wildcat more than a couple plays a game. They were stuck.
Ryan, who has two years left on his deal, will be coaching for his job in 2013, which will make it hard for him to recruit a quality offensive coordinator such as Norv Turner, who is about to get fired as Chargers head coach. Turner said last week that he’s willing to become a coordinator again and he’s one of the few coaches in the NFL who could possibly fix Mark Sanchez.
If Ryan is gone, it will happen next week. Then Johnson can try to entice Sean Payton, Jon Gruden, Mike Holmgren or Bill Cowher to the Jets circus.
Good luck. He should just try to make Ryan happy.
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