Everybody likes Rex Ryan. He’s funny, engaging, accommodating. The coach of the New York Jets has established a culture of brotherly love among the players and the coaching staff. Even the backup quarterback, Michael Vick, gives constant verbal support to the embattled starter, Geno Smith, insisting he has no interest in the No. 1 job.
But sometimes tough love is needed, and Rex is no disciplinarian.
For the past 2-3 years his team has been a study in chaos, of comically inept performance, especially on offense. Every sort of fumble, including, most infamously, the Butt Fumble. Along with fumbles, interceptions came in bunches for Mark Sanchez, and it’s the same for his successor, Smith, now in his sophomore year in the NFL.
New York media delight in referring to the Clown Car, veering every which way, with driver Rex unable and perhaps unwilling to control it.
The past weekend revealed a near total breakdown of discipline, on the field and off, and this time Ryan’s vaunted defense was as much to blame as his blunderous offense.
Soon after the Jets’ jet landed Saturday in San Diego, chaos erupted. Several of the players, including Smith, went to see a movie, and they failed to make it back to their hotel in time for a team meeting Ryan had called. They got confused by the three-hour time change.
Minds appeared to be elsewhere when Sunday’s game began. The Jets lost 31-0 to San Diego and saw their season record fall to 1-4. Smith completed 4 of 12 passes for 27 yards and, of course, an interception. He was benched for the entire second half, as Vick collected 47 yards on 19 passes.
Smith spent the second half sulking on the sidelines, a towel on his head instead of a headset. He didn’t look interested in anything relating to football, prompting this blast from former Pro Bowl/Super Bowl quarterback Ron Jaworski, now an ESPN analyst:
“As a young quarterback, you have to be tuned into the game. You’re learning all the time.”
After the game, one of the Jets’ best defensive players, linebacker Demario Davis, revealed that players weren’t working very hard on preparation. Perhaps they should have been studying game film in San Diego instead of Hollywood movies.
“Right now we’re not practicing like a championship football team,” Davis said. “I don’t see a lot of guys putting a lot of effort into film study.”
Another Jets defender, Sheldon Richardson, said there was miscommunication between Ryan and the players on the field. “He had his few communication problems. It only happened like, twice, and it really wasn’t that big of a play when he did mess up. So it’s all on us.”
But is it really?
If a team is not preparing properly and is missing signals during games, that also points to the coach.
Before this season began, I predicted Ryan would be the first NFL head coach to be fired this season. That turned out wrong, along with most of my predictions, as Oakland’s Dennis Allen was the first to go. But Rex has high probability of being No. 2.