With speculation mounting that Rex Ryan's days as the Jets head coach could be numbered, a recent report by ESPN's Chris Mortensen details a alternate scenario that Jets fans saw unfold prior to the 2013 offseason.
Then-General Manager Mike Tannenbaum was fired by owner Woody Johnson and head coach Rex Ryan was retained. The Jets front office employed an executive search firm (Korn Ferry) to identify top candidates to direct both personnel and salary cap decisions.
Through a lengthy process, the Jets ultimately found their guy, John Idzik. While serving as the V.P. of Football Administration for the Seattle Seahawks, Idzik was part of a front office that assembled the eventual 2014 Super Champions.
While Idzik was highly regarded as the perfect candidate to dig the Jets out of salary cap hell, yet the Darmouth graduate left a lot to be desired on the personnel front. From trading Darrelle Revis to releasing Antonio Cromartie and drafting Geno Smith, Idzik has quickly fallen out of favor in New York as fans clamor for his dismissal from Florham Park.
With their GM on the chopping block, Rex Ryan's coaching future is in serious doubt after reports this week indicated that the sixth year head coach was cleaning out his desk in preparation for his firing.
The fact of the matter is Ryan is not blameless for the Jets' struggles the past few seasons. His lack of interest and overall competence in coaching the offensive side of the ball along with his refusal to discipline players are major reasons why his detractors are now calling for his job.
There's no doubting that Ryan is a flawed head coach. Whether it's sticking with Mark Sanchez to the point of no return, or providing bulletin board material for opponents, Ryan can rub some people the wrong way.
But the very same traits that make Ryan one of the most disliked figures in the NFL are the same ones that make him a great coach.
His ability to wear his emotions on his sleeve and engage with both the fans and media have made him an iconic figure in New York. His personality is larger than life and his creativity on the defensive side of the ball causes headaches for opposing quarterbacks.
Ryan inherited a talented team when he took over the coaching reigns in 2009 and he took the team to the doorstep of a Super Bowl in back-to-back seasons. Slowly but surely the talent started to dissipate and his once promising franchise quarterback began struggling mightily before suffering a season ending shoulder injury in the 2013 preseason against the New York Giants.
Ryan's decision to allow Sanchez to play with second and third string lineman in a meaningless preseason game raised eyebrows as Smith took over the signal-calling duties for the fallen Sanchez.
Much like in 2009, the 2013 Jets were led by a rookie quarterback who endured his share of ups and downs. Despite being labeled as a glorified expansion team, the Jets clinched an 8-8 record and regained respectability across the league following the Tim Tebow fiasco the season prior.
Entering the 2014 season, hopes were sky high for the Jets' offense as the front office inked wide receiver Eric Decker and running back Chris Johnson in free agency, while adding tight end Jace Amaro in the draft.
Things did not pan out for New York's second year quarterback as the turnover bug continued to plagued Smith time and time again. On the defensive side of the ball, Idzik failed to shore up the team's secondary, allowing Antonio Cromartie to leave in free agency and passing on the opportunity to sign Dominique Rogers-Cromartie along with Darrelle Revis.
Dimitri Patterson, Idzik's major free agent cornerback signing would end up going AWOL during the preseason and was ultimately released, while young corners Dexter McDougle and Dee Milliner both suffered season ending injuries during the same week of practice.
Despite winning their opening game against the Oakland Raiders the Jets would go on to lose eight consecutive games as a leaky secondary and shoddy quarterback play became glaring weaknesses that opponents exposed week in and week out.
As the Jets prepare to close the book on a disastrous 2014 season, reports this week indicated that their owner will hire former Washington Redskins and Houston Texans GM Charlie Casserli as a consultant to help identify a potential replacement for Idzik.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen is reporting that Robert "Woody" Johnson might give the Jets' newly hired general manager the choice to either retain or fire Ryan.
While Ryan's shortcomings as head coach have reared their ugly head on the offensive side of the ball, Idzik did his head coach a complete disservice by handing him an amateur secondary to compete against top flight quarterbacks.
With Black Monday on the horizon and his coaching future in jeopardy, Ryan could still be in the picture if Gang Green's newly appointed GM sees eye-to-eye with the bombastic and fiery coach.
Author: Rick Laughland