NFL roster cuts: AFC | NFC

Is Rex Ryan still worth the headache?

January, 5, 2013
1/05/13
10:16
AM ET
Rex Ryan is the NFL coaching equivalent of Chad Johnson.

There is a side of the New York Jets head coach that is fun-loving and harmless. Talk to Ryan for five minutes and you will like him. Watch any news conference, and it's clear Ryan has the charisma and sense of humor to light up a room. The same can be said for Johnson.

[+] EnlargeRex Ryan
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesNext season will be crucial for Jets coach Rex Ryan, who is 14-18 the past two seasons.
Yet, there is that other side of Ryan that can be too much to take. Ryan, like Johnson, is blunt with no buffer. Ryan, like Johnson, also can display poor taste and do zany things. If Johnson abruptly changes his last name to Ochocinco, Ryan can match that with a head-scratching Mark Sanchez jersey tattooed on his arm. This pair is more alike than you think.

Johnson eventually wore out his welcome in the NFL. His antics no longer matched his production, which led to his being shipped from the Cincinnati Bengals to the New England Patriots to the Miami Dolphins and out the NFL in one year's time.

Is Ryan is heading down that same path with the Jets? Ryan's antics have been a constant. But after back-to-back non-winning seasons, are the headaches Ryan brings trumping his production?

The Sanchez tattoo, which caused national headlines Friday, is just the latest controversy to ruffle the Jets' feathers. Ryan's embarrassing transgressions have ranged from flipping the bird at a mixed martial arts event, rumors of a Ryan video focused on feet, bad-mouthing other head coaches and empty Super Bowl guarantees. There were several smaller brush fires Ryan also created or has been a part of in his four seasons with the Jets that are not worth getting into.

The point is that we keep waiting for Ryan's antics to stop, but they never do. Ryan, 50, is who he is. Ryan is at the "take-it-or-leave-it" stage in his life, and it's up to the Jets to determine how much more of the circus they can take.

That brings me back to Chad Johnson, who was a very good receiver in his prime. The Bengals put up with all of Johnson's antics as long as he could catch touchdowns. But once age caught up to Johnson and he was no longer a top receiver, all of a sudden his antics were too detrimental to the team.

Incidents of "Rex being Rex" will only fly in New York for so long. Ryan is still living off the glory of back-to-back AFC Championship Games in 2009 and 2010. But that is starting to feel like a long time ago. The Jets are currently viewed as a national punchline, a circus atmosphere where anything can happen at any time. In that respect, Ryan has been a contributing part of the problem and not the solution.

I have been a longtime supporter of Ryan because his X's and O's are solid, and players enjoy playing for him. Those are two key ingredients to being a good head coach. However, that support is waning with each incident. It's difficult to preach discipline to your players when the head coach is the one dominating the back pages in New York with distractions.

It's time to officially put Ryan on the hot seat for 2013. Next season will be huge for Ryan's future with the Jets.

Ryan is a mediocre 14-18 the past two seasons. He is poised on the threshold of being more of a detriment than an asset.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

Insider