Despite the week-to-week handwringing, extending Ryan was -- and is -- the only decision Idzik could make at the end of 17 weeks. While he won't win, Rex Ryan has been talked about as a potential Coach of the Year Candidate, and rightly so. In milking an eight-win season out of four-win talent, Ryan and his staff performed a masterwork and convinced even his staunchest critics that Ryan deserved the chance to progress with real talent at his disposal.
In order to do that, Ryan needs a multi-year commitment from Idzik and owner Woody Johnson.
Coming off a season in which they started five rookies, the Jets figure to once again be a team in transition next year. A one-year extension will only bring with it the same questions that threatened to consume this year’s team. While Ryan once again proved himself able to weather the media storm, there’s no need to put him or the locker room through that again.
The truth is, Idzik wasn’t simply making a decision for 2014 with Sunday’s announcement. He’s far too practical and deliberate for that.
When he took over last winter, the Jets were a total tear-down –- only they couldn’t afford to live elsewhere during the demolition. Thanks to a few tarps and some space heaters, the Jets were able to make it through the winter. Now, Idzik can finish clearing out the remaining rotting floor joists and continue installing the type of players he believes will turn this up-and-down franchise into a consistent contender.
Given the projected $40+ million in cap space that a few key moves could afford him this spring, part of that work will be done in free agency. There may even be a big splash or two in order to win some headlines and appease Woody’s desire for good publicity. But if the way Idzik has handled the roster so far is any indication, fans should expect far more value to be placed on the Jets’ selections in May’s draft.
Giving Ryan job security will allow him and his staff the chance to develop the younger players – and deal with the growing pains that come with them – without feeling like they’re coaching for their jobs week in and week out.
Allow Mornhinweg to work on Geno’s mechanics in their second offseason together, but understand Geno will likely have to develop chemistry with two new wide receivers, a new tight end and possibly a new running back, as well – any number of which could be rookies.
On the other side of the ball, expect the Jets to retool their secondary, which went from vaunted to leaky this season. The unit that takes the field in Week 1 could have as many as three new faces. At the very least, expect Dee Milliner to be starting opposite someone other than Antonio Cromartie or Kyle Wilson.
This is to say nothing of the Jets’ need for at least one offensive guard and the elusive edge rusher, not to mention the gaping hole in the return game. The Jets only can accept fair catches as currency for so long before it begins to cost them games, if it hasn’t already.
For all of these reasons, Ryan deserves more time to see this process through. Adding two more seasons would still give Idzik flexibility to get out in two years – or one if things go completely haywire next season. It would also form a three-year partnership between the three most important individuals in this organization right now: Ryan, Idzik and Smith.
This franchise needs stability. It craves direction. Idzik attempted to take a step down that path Sunday afternoon. Now he has to finish the job and put Woody’s money where his mouth is.
Corey works for NBCSports.com as an editor and can be reached at @cgriffin415 on Twitter or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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