He wasn’t supposed to be here, but there was head coach Rex Ryan at the podium on Tuesday, back for another year.
In preseason, Ryan was the betting favorite to be the first head coach in the NFL fired this year, and nearly every media outlet jumped on board. The Jets were picked to finished near the bottom of the league with three or four wins. But Ryan’s team was playing meaningful football into December and finished 8-8. It was a two-win improvement over the year before.
General manager John Idzik met with Ryan before he was hired last offseason and he paints a picture of an instant friendship. So he says all that talk about being on opposite wavelengths was just pure speculation.
“You felt like there was a pretty good vibe there too. As we spent time together, we had a lot of similar views on how to build a team, the type of people we want in the building. Our style of football, our philosophies,” Idzik said during his end-of-the-year press conference on Tuesday. “[We have] a lot of similarities. Maybe it is because we’re from similar backgrounds. Same generation of football, but more than that when you’re working that closely with somebody, it makes it fun. Rex makes it fun. He’s very thorough, he’s a phenomenal teacher [and] motivator. He’s a great listener and he’s a heck of a football coach. I’ve learned that every day I’ve spent. We are very fortunate to have Rex as our coach. I’m very fortunate to have him alongside of me.”
When asked if Ryan would get an extension— 2014 is the last year of his contract— Idzik deflected the question. He also wouldn’t commit to a coaching staff that underwent a significant shakeup last season.
Owner Woody Johnson said on Sunday the decision to retain Ryan was made about a month ago, when the Jets were in the midst of a three-game losing streak after their bye week. The decision to retain Ryan for the final year of his contract went beyond the team’s strong close to the season with three wins in their final four games.
The decision not to can Ryan came as a surprise to many in the media and the fans, who assumed that he was gone before the season’s start.
Ryan said Idzik had a “burning desire” to make the Jets a perennial winner.
“As a coach, that’s exactly what you want, that’s music to my ears. That’s exactly what I want. Our philosophies are similar that way,” Ryan said. “It’s just been a great relationship. The fact that there is mutual respect is just— I’ve never felt that I wasn’t John’s coach. I felt that I’m his coach, regardless of what the situation was. That’s kind of how I feel. It’s just I know we want the same thing.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.