FOXBORO MA - DECEMBER 06: Head coach Rex Ryan of the New York Jets walks on the field for the start of their game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 6 2010 in Foxboro Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
It is time to make up your mind on Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez
The story is a tired one. When the New York Jets begin to struggle, the Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez stories circulate, the national media recycles the same few paragraphs and the same theme. You will read about the problematic culture Ryan has created and how it trickles down the entire organization. The reason the Jets are losing football games suddenly derives from Ryan's personality. When discussing Sanchez, the questioning of his ability to handle being a franchise quarterback in New York becomes rampant. A bunch of sports journalists start dusting off memories from the one psychology course they took in college and claim the kid's body language is why the Jets offense can't score points.
I don't buy it.
The reason the Jets have lost two straight football games and have lost a whopping 4 out of 13 games this season has nothing to do with Rex Ryan imitating his brother in a press conference or joking about Tom Brady's wife. The reason the Jets offense has struggled with inconsistency has nothing to do with how Mark Sanchez holds his shoulders after an incompletion.
You need to make a decision, either you are on board with how Rex Ryan runs things or you aren't. Don't carry on about loving the confidence and swagger he brought to an organization, in desperate need of it but then lecture on his behavior when the team hits a brief losing streak. Ryan has been consistent since the day he was hired. He is a brash, borderline cocky individual, who speaks his mind and loves to talk up his own team. This is his personality and it isn't changing.
As a rookie head coach, he took a team with a rookie quarterback to the AFC Championship Game. In his second year, he is poised to improve his team's regular season record and take another crack at a run to the Super Bowl in January. What did Sean Payton do during his first two years with the Saints? He went to the NFC Championship Game in year one, and followed with a 7-9 and 8-8 season. What about Tom Coughlin? He went 6-10 in his first year, and followed with back to back years where his team lost in the first round of the playoffs.
How come Tony Sparano isn't questioned for the way he is doing things? After taking his team to the playoffs in year one, where they got smoked in the first round at home, he is going to follow up with back to back years of missing the playoffs.
There is more evidence suggesting the Rex Ryan method of head coaching works than it doesn't. The proof is in the victory totals. If this team lays down and finishes with a 5 game losing steak and finishes 9-7 outside of the playoffs, Rex is still coming back for year three and is still going to be himself. Does he need to reconsider his offensive coaching staff? Absolutely. Does he need to find a pass rusher and a safety for his beloved defense? Of course. However, he shouldn't change his personality or stop being the guy that had the Jets a little more than a quarter from a Super Bowl in 2009.
What about Mark Sanchez? Stop the presses, a second year quarterback is having some inconsistency? No way, that never happens in the NFL. It amazes me how quickly people want to call Sanchez the next Matt Leinart, when his work ethic and win total in the NFL couldn't make them any more different.
The guy won two road playoff games in his rookie year, which gives him more than every single current starting quarterback in the NFL won their rookie year. He is 19-12 as a starter in this league, which is a record that compares favorably to every other big time quarterback in this league's record after their first 31 starts. People talk about him being completely inept, yet inept quarterbacks don't lead their team to comeback 4th quarter and overtime victories 4 out of 5 weeks in their second season. They don't go through 5 game stretches without a turnover. They aren't on pace to throw for 3510 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions and lead their team to a winning record in year two.
The reason the Jets haven't scored a touchdown the past two games or in three of their four home games has nothing to do with Sanchez's body language. It has to do with dropped passes, questionable play calling, a fading starting running back, a second year running back not used enough, poor personnel decisions, and poor mechanics from Sanchez himself.
People want to write off Ryan and Sanchez as a hopeless combination that will never work. They do this while ignoring the success they have continually had.
If you think Ryan can't coach the way he does in the NFL, don't be quick to pat him on the back if the Jets win 2 of their next 3 and are a 11 win playoff team. If you think Sanchez can't quarterback in the NFL, don't look at the Jets victory totals the past two years or his stat line from 2010. You also better burn the game tape from the 2009 playoffs and every game from weeks 2 - 12 this season.
It has been an ugly two games for the New York Jets but last time I checked it is week 15, in a 17 week season.