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Looking for signs from Woody Johnson

12/23/2013

When the head coach is dangling in limbo, it's our job as reporters to look for tells, subtle indications that could portend the future. So please forgive me if this comes across as over-analysis:

As they always do after wins, the New York Jets' official web site posted an edited video clip of Rex Ryan's post-game speech to the team. It was a little corny (he told the players to proudly wear Jets gear while Christmas shopping on Monday's day off) and it was funny ("By the way, there was a Dee Milliner sighting"). Mostly, Ryan read off the statistical highlights from the 24-13 win over the Cleveland Browns.

In the background you can see owner Woody Johnson, smiling and clapping at points during the speech. Finally, at the end, Ryan told the players, "Down 10, we showed the character." Johnson responded by nodding his head and saying, "Yeah."

Does it mean anything? Does it show that Johnson still is behind Ryan? Granted, this is reading tea leaves, but you can bet there will be a lot of that over the next six days.

I'm told that Johnson would like to keep Ryan, but that general manager John Idzik is undecided, which I assume means he's looking to make a change. This creates a fascinating dynamic. Obviously, it's Johnson's team, so he can do what he pleases, but he hired Idzik a year ago to run the football operation. It's possible that Johnson will defer to Idzik, but Johnson has been known to take charge in these situations. After the 2008 season, Johnson wanted to fire Eric Mangini, so he overstepped then-GM Mike Tannenbaum (a close friend of Mangini) and made the decision to sack him.

Only two weeks ago, Johnson told ESPN radio he was "pretty happy" with the direction of the franchise. Since that interview, they're 2-1, although the one loss basically eliminated them from contention.