What is Woody Thinking?
Speculation regarding what will likely be the firing of Head Coach Rex Ryan, and the possible dumping of second-year General Manager John Idzik has reached what seems to be an all-time high. Many Jets fans and beat writers have already moved on in their collective minds as Rex’s ouster is all but certain at this point. Reports have already begun to surface linking the Jets to current San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh as there are reportedly irreconcilable differences between the coach and 49ers ownership. The regression of his dynamic young quarterback can’t be helping matters much either for the offensive guru. Countless fans have chosen to focus on Idzik as the fall guy and feel the need to move on to a new General Manager after what has been a complete failure to assemble a legitimate contender up to this point. Since taking over two seasons ago, the Jets have become significantly worse in multiple areas under Idzik, and that has been reflected in their declining performance.
One thing that seems to have been lost in all of these assumptions is that the man in charge, Woody Johnson, has said close to nothing in regards to the futures of either of the two men. When asked about Ryan’s status prior to the start of the season, Johnson made it clear that missing the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year would not be the sole contributing factor in his decision to retain or fire Ryan. There is always the possibility that Johnson will take in to account the opinions of former players and coaches who have accused Idzik of assembling an inferior roster that was bound to produce a season like the one that’s unfolding before us. That could work in Ryan’s favor, but what works against Ryan is that despite the lack of talent at his disposal, there have been too many coaching gaffes that can’t be attributed to personnel.
At the top of the list would have to be questionable offensive game plans. Knowing he was going to be outmanned for much of the season, Ryan would have done himself a big favor by playing to the team’s offensive strength by feeding the ball to Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson on a consistent basis. The Jets running game is far from what it was just a few years ago, but with Geno Smith under center, running the ball was always going to give them the best chance to win. Despite dropping a head to head match-up in New England to the Patriots earlier this year, that game was arguably the best showing the Jets’ offense produced this season. Despite the loss, the Jets scored a season-high 25 points and rushed for over 200 yards. They consistently pounded the ball in what was Smith’s only turnover-free start of the year as the Jets tried to rein him in and put a stop to his 20 interception pace. If the Jets had used this philosophy from the start, there is every reason to believe they would have been a more competitive team and significantly improved their putrid turnover differential of -12 . Marty Mornhinweg is the man calling the plays, but Rex Ryan is the Head Coach, and ultimately it’s up to him to dictate the game plan to his coordinator.
In Idzik’s case, Johnson came out in support of the GM not long ago when speaking to the media and echoed Idzik’s plan to “build through the draft” and said the Jets would rarely make big or pricey splashes in free agency. The problem with that however, is that while it’s still early, Idzik’s drafts have been horrendous, and just a couple of weeks after making those comments the GM reached out and traded for high-priced veteran receiver Percy Harvin. So shortly after his boss supported his blueprint for success, Idzik made a move that contradicted the entire philosophy. So much for that plan.
So as the Jets prepare to take on the Miami Dolphins on the national stage that is Monday Night Football, we’re all left asking, what is Woody thinking? The only move that would seem to make no sense at all would be to keep both Ryan and Idzik around for another season. Johnson has every right to move on and fire both men, but will he seek some continuity within the organization and allow Idzik one last shot to assemble a contender? Of the two, Ryan is the more likely candidate to be cut loose, but Jets fans fear the possibilities of another draft with John Idzik calling the shots, all while possibly holding a top two or three pick. For now we can only ask what Woody is thinking, but in just five weeks, we’ll all have our answer.