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New York Jets Extend Rex Ryan, Take Step in the Right Direction

When the New York Jets hired John Idzik to be their general manager in January 2013, many speculated about what it meant for incumbent head coach Rex Ryan, but few truly knew.

Surely Ryan would be a placeholder for one year, they said. Idzik would cut ties with him and let him go. Rex Ryan isn’t “his guy,” they said. Idzik is going to want “his guy” coaching his team.

The Jets roster was stripped down, key veterans were let go, and Ryan was tasked with overseeing a rebuilding process, developing young talent that some pundits opined was the worst crop of talent in the NFL. Ryan and the Jets were doomed, they said.

However, a funny thing happened on the way to the Jets’ 4-12 season and Rex Ryan’s inevitable ouster. That young Jets team that nobody expected to sniff six wins? They won eight games, on the strength of one of the best coaching jobs of Ryan’s career. If Ryan was going down, he was going down swinging.

The Jets finished in second place in the AFC East in 2013, as Ryan’s rebuilt defense that featured an outstanding group of young defenders played a big part in beating teams like the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints. The Jets went 6-2 at home and finished strong, going 3-1 down the stretch.

John Idzik gave Rex Ryan a fair shot at earning his place as the Jets’ head coach of the future, and today, on the three year anniversary of the biggest win of Ryan’s career, Ryan has been rewarded with a multi-year contract extension. Nearing his one-year anniversary as Jets GM, Idzik has found “his guy.”

In five seasons as HC of the NYJ, Ryan has a 42-38 record in the regular season, 46-40 including his 4-2 postseason record. He’s had just one losing season, and four second-place finishes in five years. He may not have a division title on his head coaching resume, but he’s earned the right to keep pursuing one.

Ryan did an excellent job coaching up young players with his feet to the fire in 2013, and his new contract will reportedly give Idzik and the Jets flexibility to keep Ryan on past the 2015 season if Ryan continues to trend up, or cut ties with him with little financial repercussions if the Jets take a step back.

It’s a win-win for both sides, as Rex Ryan gets a chance to reportedly earn financial incentives tied to postseason performance, while the Jets retain the flexibility to make a coaching change if they feel it’s needed. Ryan is betting on himself and his coaching acumen, and it’s a terrific move for all involved.

Going 8-8 with a young team was a great first step for the team of Idzik and Ryan. Now that duo has a chance to build on that, in an offseason with plenty of cap space and extra draft picks. Now it’s time to take another step forward, and for Idzik, Ryan and the Jets to build a legitimate playoff contender in 2014.

Rex Ryan once famously said that the best place to be is when expectations are high. Moving forward, it’ll be nothing but for Gang Green. They’ve got the right guys in place, with Idzik acquiring the talent and Ryan coaching them up. Moving forward, expectations are high once more. Now let’s go get it.


Jon Presser is the lead host of NGN’s AFC East and NFC East show, “The Press Coverage Podcast with Jon Presser,” live every Tuesday night at 7:30 pm ET. Follow Jon on Twitter @JonPresser.

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