Got a Case of the Mondays? Fear not! Corey Griffin continues his Monday morning column for the 2013 season. Corey has been a season ticketholder for more than 20 years and works for NBC Sports in their newsroom. This week, the coaching catastophe.
When we look back on Saturday night, Jets fans won’t think of Matt Simms, Geno Smith or Mark Sanchez. We won’t think about the missed field goals, the unnecessary overtime or Tom Coughlin’s affinity for timeouts.
Saturday night may just be, for all intents and purposes, the beginning of the end for Rex Ryan.
There will be some of you that say it’s an impulsive, perhaps even rash statement. There will be others who say the Ryan era ended somewhere between the Tim Tebow trade and the Titans game last season, which, not coincidentally, is the same time most of you will say the Sanchez era came to an ugly, humiliating end.
This isn’t about one night bringing the entire Ryan era crashing down. This is about decision after decision, magnified by negligence bringing the Jets to the same spot they were before they hired Ryan. The Jets are a rudderless ship with a mistake-prone quarterback and a coach who doesn’t seem to understand the full grasp of what it takes to be a head coach instead of just a defensive coordinator.
Halfway through Saturday’s game, I, like many of you, assumed Sanchez would be the team’s starting quarterback in Week 1. Barring the delusional, jaded or simply fed-up fans, there’s no explanation for starting a rookie QB who is visibly unprepared for the rigors of being an NFL starting quarterback. That doesn’t mean Sanchez is a good, or even starting-quality quarterback at this point, but he is the best one on the roster.
Geno had lost the job, and Mark had won it simply by standing on the sidelines and watching another quarterback throw bad interceptions and dump the ball off play after play. It seemed logical that Ryan would give Sanchez at least a quarter with the starters. After all, he too is learning a new offense under a new coordinator and it probably makes sense to send him out with at least some of the first-team offense to work together. Nope, not Rex.
Ryan sent Geno back, play after play, series after series. OK, fine Rex. You’ve conceded that Geno needs in-game reps he lost last week and there’s no amount of preseason work that will fix Mark Sanchez’s faults. I get it.
Wait. What? Sanchez in the fourth quarter? Against backups looking to do everything possible to make the team? Behind an offensive line ranging from players-on-the-bubble to possibly-make-the-practice-squad? Why? Because you’re “competing?” Because Sanchez needed to practice? Because you wanted to save face with your one-time golden child and make sure he at least saw the field at some point before he has to try to beat Darrelle Revis and co.? Or maybe the plan for the entire night was to satisfy his new GM and the Geno-centric population that has fashioned tinfoil hats and shouted “conspiracy!!!” every time Geno gets one less snap than Sanchez.
Because appeasement works so well when dealing with irrational zealots.
This is the line of thinking that led Ryan to endorse a trade for Tebow and then bury him after finally seeing him in practice. It was the thinking that led Ryan to stick with players like Sanchez, Bart Scott and Eric Smith last season even though they all needed a firm seat on the bench, either their bodies or their confidence shot.
The truth is, we’ve seen enough evidence to prove that Rex Ryan is not ready to be a head coach. It started when he guaranteed a Super Bowl during his first news conference, a bold and exciting -- if not entirely shortsighted -- move. He gained the attention of the entire league and the respect and adoration of an entire fan base with a few short sentences, which he continued to spout time after time until finally he realized the check would never cash.
If Ryan is playing chess, than Jim Harbaugh, Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin are playing Kal-toh. The lovable coach is a brilliant strategist when it comes to defense and an excellent motivator to fresh ears, but he lacks the ability to look four, three or even two moves down the road. He coaches the entire team like he coaches his defense. He calls an extravagant blitz because he thinks it will stop this play, not because he thinks it will affect the game two quarters later.
The problem being that decision making -- advanced decision making at that -- is everything in the NFL these days. Schemes, rosters and even coaching staffs are so advanced that it’s impossible to coach from the seat of your pants or based off the fire in your belly. In the NFL, a coach needs four different ideas heading into almost every quarter and at least one or two alternate plans in case someone gets hurt or your quarterback runs out of the back of the endzone.
Let's be clear, Ryan has some big positives, which may serve him well in his next endeavor as a head coach. However, those positives have become lost in a problem he seems to share at times with his now-injured starting quarterback. Rex Ryan doesn’t believe in himself, a crazy notion considering Rex’s early-tenure bluster and bravado. But the Rex Ryan of today is not the Rex Ryan of 2009, 2010 or even 2011. Never was this more evident than in Monday’s news conference, in which a clearly-neutered Rex offered half-hearted statements and spewed coachspeak when asked about his indefensible in-game decision making and bizarre postgame presser. The old Rex would’ve broken down video of himself, pointing out bad form in his sideways turn. At the very least, he would’ve found some way to defuse the tension in the room with a pithy comment.
But this coach has been humiliated by his players, torn to shreds by a headline-hungry media corps and been forced to change his ways to try to impress the new boss in town, who’s probably looking for any reason to replace the bombastic example of the franchise’s “Circus” years.
I wish the Rex Ryan of 2009, 2010 or 2011 coached this team, if only because I would believe that coach could fix this team. Instead we are subject to watching a coach who is basically playing out the string with two quarterbacks he can’t start and a GM that doesn’t want him. Any optimism or dreams of an above-.500 season went floating over the middle before crashing into the MetLife FieldTurf on Saturday night.
Largely due to Rex’s shortsighted thinking, the Jets’ only options at quarterback are a woefully unprepared rookie and a turnover-prone veteran playing with a bad wing. Sanchez won’t get better. The only hope is he doesn’t get worse and the shoulder injury won’t help. Regardless of whether it’s a bruise, a sprain or a tear, Sanchez, who already throws with average arm strength, will be less than 100 percent the rest of the year. The only way the Jets’ quarterback situation gets better is if Geno suddenly makes some semblance of a leap while getting bombarded week after week. For a kid that reportedly asked out of a “brutal” practice and just had a “brutal” preseason start, I don’t see that happening against the Falcons, Steelers, Patriots, Bengals and Saints. Perhaps there’s a shining light after the bye, but by then the season will likely be too far gone. There will be losses so bad they make you question where this team is going as a franchise. And there will be a coaching change at some point, most likely on Black Monday.
If Ryan can’t see that coming, well, isn’t that kind of fitting?
Tweets of the dayhttps://twitter.com/greggrosenthal/status/371411620313825281
Tailgating in the apartment at the trackLobster roll at the Travers Stakes.