It’s official, well almost, the Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan is no longer a lame duck. Although it was confirmed in December by the Jets’ owner, Woody Johnson, that he intended to keep Ryan on for the 2014 season, thus leaving Ryan to coach into the last year of his contract, it appears that things have changed. It has been reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Ryan and the Jets have come to an agreement on a multi-year contract extension. The details of the contract are not yet public but what is known is that Ryan will be with the Jets for at least the next three years.
Ryan was hired in 2009, taking on a Jets team that was coming of of consecutive non-playoff seasons. In the next two seasons he led he Jets to two straight AFC Championship games, losing one to Indianapolis and the other to Pittsburgh. In 2011, expectations for the Jets were high but they ended up at what was then a disappointing 8-8 season. The 2012 season brought about more disappointment for the Jets. The signing of quarterback Tim Tebow became a huge distraction and when quarterback Mark Sanchez played, he had an alarming number of turnovers. The Jets finished the 2012 season at 6-10.
Things just seemed to be getting worse for coach Ryan. The 2013 season looked like it would be a win or go home situation for Ryan, now in the fifth year of his contract. The roster he had to work with was considered, by many, one of the worst in the NFL. But the Jets surprised everyone by going 5-4 to start the season. With the maturation of rookie quarterback Geno Smith, the Jets went 3-1 in December, finishing the season at this time a not so disappointing 8-8.
In his five years with the Jets Ryan is 42- 38 overall and 4-2 in the postseason. He is also very popular among the players, several of whom voiced their support for Ryan before the last game of the season. The game ended in a victory over the Miami Dolphins. It has been said that when Johnson announced that Ryan would be back in 2014 the locker room erupted. In an email to season ticket holders Johnson wrote:
“I hired Rex Ryan in January of 2009 for many reasons, but one of his strengths really stands out, Rex has more passion than anyone I have ever met. Passion for the Jets. Passion for teaching and motivating his players and coaches. Passion for winning. Like any NFL Head Coach, he’s had ups and downs, but Rex has been a tremendous leader of this football team.
Even though Johnson tried to make it clear in December that he still had faith in Ryan going into the sixth and final year of his contract, it was perceived by many that that faith was not substantial. Now with the news of this contract extension, the words in Johnson’s email actually ring true. Looking at the overall picture, Ryan took a sad Jets team, turned them into a playoff team, had a rough two years but again came back to help the Jets rise against the odds. Ryan is deserving of the extension and with that stability the Jets can now look forward to a possible playoff berth in 2014.