Sunday, December 23, 2012
Sunday notes: Rex's bleak future
By Rich Cimini
A Week 16 look at the Jets and the rest of the NFL:
1. A Ryan shame: Everybody is wondering whether the Jets will keep Rex Ryan. Let's look at it from the other perspective: Does Ryan want the Jets? Being the head of the Jets won't get easier, it will get tougher. Consider:
Ryan has no quarterback. His best player, Darrelle Revis, is coming off a major injury and will be seeking a monster contract. The salary-cap situation is tight. He may have a new GM. His right-hand man on defense, Mike Pettine, is a free agent and could walk. He probably will be in the market for a new offensive coordinator, but it'll be tough to attract a top candidate because of his own contract situation.
Ryan has two years left on his deal, meaning next year is make or break. If they don't make the playoffs next year, he's gone. It's a difficult situation, which, of course, he helped create. Some people who know Ryan think he'd be better off getting fired, taking home his $6 million, getting a TV job for a year and resurfacing in 2014.
Or he could try to pull a Herm Edwards. Edwards faced similar circumstances in '05 and, when he failed to secure a contract extension from the Jets, he found more security from the Chiefs and shot his way out of town. There will be at least a half-dozen head-coaching openings, and Ryan could be attractive to a team looking to create a buzz. I'm not saying Ryan is actively looking to get out, but you can see why he might have wanderlust.
2. Front office on frontburner: There's a ton of speculation out there on what might happen to GM Mike Tannenbaum. Here's one theory that makes some sense: Owner Woody Johnson will move Tannenbaum out of the GM chair, give him a fancy title and hire an up-and-coming talent evaluator to run a re-structured personnel department. To land a quality personnel guy, however, they'd almost certainly have to grant him final-say power.
3. Like Mike: Pettine's decision to reject a contract extension created a buzz Friday. Here's what I think: First of all, he turned it down early in the season, so this isn't a new story. Just like a lot of players would do in the same situation, Pettine wants to test his market value. He probably doesn't have enough experience to become a head coach at this point, but he certainly can land a coordinator job where he'd run the entire show. Remember, Ryan still has considerable input into the Jets' D. Pettine is prepared to venture out on his own, which probably will help his chances of becoming a head coach one day.
If Pettine leaves, Ryan probably will have to hire three coordinators, although he'd have in-house candidates for defense (DB coach Dennis Thurman) and special teams (current assistant Ben Kotwica). Mike Westhoff is expected to retire.
4. G-Mac's big day: The QB not named Sanchez or Tebow -- Greg McElroy -- makes his first career start. I talked to two talent evaluators about McElroy. A longtime GM told me, "He's not a starter. He's a journeyman backup type. He reminds me of (Bengals backup) Bruce Gradkowski. He doesn't have the playmaking ability. He doesn't have the arm. You have no hope if he's your starter."
An AFC personnel executive told me, "He's a good game manager. He has good instincts. Average arm strength and vertical passer. He can dink and dunk, make decisions and get rid of the ball, but he won't win a game on his arm alone. He's a backup quarterback who has some feel for the game and situations, but he's more of a ball-control quarterback. He possesses pocket presence, but the field won't expand with his skill set. He's a short to intermediate passer who will be better with a running game and a play-action element."
5. Hitting the market: Nine current starters are eligible for unrestricted free agency. One player who really helped his value this season is DT Mike DeVito. Early prediction: He ends up with the Patriots. He's a Belichick type player because he can play in any scheme.
6. Season's greetings: The Jets sent out their electronic holiday card, which includes Ryan and more than a dozen players -- in a separate greetings -- sending holidays wishes to fans. Two players conspicuously absent: Sanchez and Tebow. Wow, Tebow can't even make the Christmas card. Tough season.
7. Pride of the defense: Here's an amazing stat: None of the Jets' last 11 turnovers (nine by Sanchez) resulted in a touchdown by the opposition. That's some pretty stubborn defense.
8. Pride of the Pack: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has gone 37 straight starts without a two-interception game, the most since the 1970 merger, according to Elias Sports. Anybody want to take a guess on Sanchez's longest such streak? The answer is six. He's done it twice -- earlier this season and the middle of last season.
9. Beware, the Pats: The Patriots have 506 points, needing only 84 to break the NFL record they set in 2007. Let's see: They're coming off a home loss, Tom Brady is 22-4 after losses and they face the Jaguars. Yep, I'd say 84 is in play ... maybe this week.
10. NFL Comeback Player of the Year: Wow, this is a tough choice: Peyton Manning or Adrian Peterson. Once again, I have the honor of being among the voters for the Associated Press awards. Right now, I'm leaning toward Peterson, but it's not etched in stone. What say you?