As Rex Ryan’s firing continues to be viewed as a breath of fresh air for the organization, Ryan’s overall impact on the Jets has been heavily understated in the days following his departure.
But Ryan’s recent struggles and firing shouldn’t make his tenure as HC of the NYJ a completely forgotten one, a fate often endowed upon a numerous amount of Jets coaches of the past. Sure, Ryan’s 4-12 campaign this year was one to shove deep under the sofa. The same can be said for his 6-10 2012 and 8-8 2013, years that featured unspeakable novelties like Tim Tebow and The Buttfumble (it never gets old! Never!). But lost in his firing is the affect Ryan had in his first two seasons as coach, which bought a 9-7 and 11-5 record, respectively; two consecutive postseason berths; and, of course, the two AFC Championship game appearances.
I understand that those seasons should not make Ryan immune from punishment for the ineptitude of the current roster. But those 2009 and 2010 teams returned the Jets to relevance, which isn’t too shabby considering the franchise’s laughingstock appearance when Rex took over after the Brett Farve experiment. The way that Rex — a first time head coach with no prior experience — led the Jets to consecutive championship games is something that should be remembered rather than forgotten, even if the more recent memories are less than desirable.
Rex’s impact on New York was tangible — an effect apparent the day he predicted a Super Bowl win at the Combine in 2011 to the many times he has been fined for his sideline bravado. Rex’s personality often came back to bite him and his roster (the Jets missed the postseason that “Super Bowl year”), but Rex also created a sense of purpose around the organization: for the first time in a long time, people were finally noticing the Jets as a viable threat in the AFC, as crazy as it may have sounded.
Even though those thoughts of the Jets turning into a dynasty or consistent powerhouse, the team was winning under Rex Ryan. Although those Super Bowl guarantees went unfulfilled, Ryan won more postseason games than any other coach in Jets history (4-2 record), which can be looked at as an impressive or laughable stat, depending on your perspective.
Fast forward to 2014. The Jets won just 4 games, the lowest form of mediocrity from Rex Ryan. But even though Rex leaves the team in a desolate position akin to when he arrived six years ago, Rex boosted the organization’s importance on and off the field in a way that hasn’t been seen before from a New York Jet head coach.
I am not arguing that Rex’s tenure was the prettiest or the most successful, and I am not arguing that Rex should be hailed as the greatest head coach of all time, even if my points may indicate that. Rex is an impeccable defensive mind, but he was not able to grasp the offensive aspect of the team, which ultimately contributed to his downfall. But as Rex exits the organization for good, the positives he bought to the franchise are the last thing that should be ignored.