'Tis the season for speculation about Rex Ryan's job.
For the next 19 days, there will be stories on whether he should be fired or retained, folks like me offering opinions and analysis on what the New York Jets could and should do with their head coach. I'm on record as saying he should be brought back next year if they finish 7-9 or better, playing respectable ball over the final three games. If you polled 100 executives from around the league, I bet at least 95 would deem 7-9 a successful coaching job, considering the roster.
Owner Woody Johnson, in a pregame interview Sunday with ESPN New York 98.7 FM, said he was "pretty happy" with the direction of the franchise, sounding very much like a patient boss mindful of the big picture. But Johnson has been known to change his mind. Late in the 2005 season, he told reporters he loved Herm Edwards. A few weeks later, he traded him to Kansas City.
Johnson can be swayed, and the man who could do the swaying is general manager John Idzik -- the wild card in this entire process. No one knows what Idzik is thinking. He's a poker player, rarely revealing much publicly. He's a first-time GM, so there's no track record that we can study as we try to forecast his plan. When he speaks to reporters, which isn't often, he always speaks highly of Ryan. He sounds like he genuinely likes him, but does that mean he wants to remain joined at his hip? Former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith probably thought he was well-liked by his new GM, Phil Emery, but he was fired after a 10-6 season in 2012.
There's no way of knowing Idzik's thoughts. Heck, it might not matter if Ryan's performance is hailed a success. Maybe Idzik decided last January, soon after being hired, that he'd fire Ryan after the season, regardless of the outcome. Maybe he's waiting to see how the season plays out before making a decision. Maybe he's already concluded to keep Ryan because he loves his passion and defensive acumen. We probably won't know until Dec. 30, the day after the season.
In the meantime, let the speculation continue.
ICYMI: The Jets worked out several free agents Tuesday, including WR Danny Coale (a former Cowboys draft pick) and QB Nathan Enderle (Arena League, CFL, former Bears draft pick). ... We break down the tape of the Jets' win over the Raiders, highlighting some surprisingly good and bad performances. ... The Jets inched up to No. 21 in the latest ESPN.com Power Rankings. ... A look at the various playoff scenarios.