The New York Jets cleaned house after their season ended 6-10, firing their general manager and offensive coordinator, and losing their defensive coordinator to the Buffalo Bills. All the while, Rex Ryan sits squarely on the hot seat. It is clear that the Jets believe Ryan can turn it back around , but if they fall flat again next season with all of the other variable controlled for, Ryan will clearly be out the door. Even though Ryan’s job is already in question, evidence that he should be gone is mounting.
For the second straight year, at the end of the season there was dissent among the ranks of the Jets. Former special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff criticized the Jets season on 560WQAM Miami on Friday morning. First he criticized the Jets and Rex Ryan for their use of Tim Tebow. Westhoff envisioned an offense tailored to Tebow in which his skill-set as a durable running QB would be utilized, but that offense never materialized on the field. Westhoff never even saw the secret Tebow offense that we all believed the Jets put in behind closed doors. Westhoff came to the conclusion that the entire Tebow experiment became an utter mess under Ryan. Westhoff also went on to criticize Mark Sanchez, saying that Sanchez can manage with a good team but does not have the talent to shoulder the burden of carrying a team. Not even the defense was off limits to Westhoff who commented on the Jets ability to dominate the bottom five teams in the league but not the top ten.
The criticism set forth by Westhoff do not directly implicate Rex Ryan as the culprit, but each of his criticism stem from lack of leadership and vision at the top. The failure to utilize Tebow falls on the head coach because no one else can set out a long-term plan to include him in the offense. Sticking with Sanchez is a choice the franchise has made, but ultimately the choice to finally get rid of him falls on the head coach. Finally, when you criticize the Jets defense you criticize Rex Ryan. Westhoff’s criticism of the Jets as a whole hint at poor head coaching by Ryan.
Going back to the end of last year, back up quarter back Greg McElroy commented about the locker room. Like Westhoff, McElroy found himself in a position to speak his mind, not because he lost his job, but because as a rookie he did not know better than to open his mouth. After going 8-8 in 2011, McElroy said that he had never been in a locker room with such “extremely selfish individuals.” He went on to claim that this issue lead to a corrupt mindset in the locker room. McElroy’s criticism of the Jets seems to implicate the individual players in the locker room, but it is up to the head coach to cultivate a culture of winning and a team first attitude in the locker room.
After the last two seasons, when Jets employees felt they could speak their minds, their comments have painted a questionable picture of Rex Ryan as the head coach. From an outsider looking in, based on candid comments from the inside, it looks like Ryan lost his players in the locker room, and lost continuity amongst his coaching staff in consecutive years. No one has directly accused Ryan of causing these problems, but as post season complaints become more of a pattern, the underlying problem may be poor leadership from the head coach. If things go south again next year with a new GM and two new coordinators, Ryan will have a hard time proving he is not the common thread between the Jets’ woes. We will also know that we can trust the opinions of Mike Westhoff and Greg McElroy.