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Friday, February 22, 2013
Is Rex Ryan destined to fail?

By James Walker

Rex Ryan
The Jets are 14-18 the past two seasons under coach Rex Ryan.
Rex Ryan addressed the media at the NFL combine Thursday as only a shell of the brash, supremely confident coach he once was.

Just two years ago, Ryan stepped to the podium and guaranteed the combine media in Indianapolis that the New York Jets would win the Super Bowl.

This year's prediction for the Jets?

"I did figure this out: I’m not in the prediction world," Ryan said sheepishly, backing down. "I’m usually not real good on my predictions."

This is a different version of Ryan. He’s been humbled, beaten down and worn out the past two years in New York. Ryan has had to deal with Tebowmania, Mike Tannenbaum’s awful decision-making, Mark Sanchez’s regression, and constant infighting and in-house controversies. The Jets went 14-18 the past two seasons under Ryan, but it felt more like 0-32 under the bright lights of New York.

Just barely, Ryan has survived. But long gone is the coach who thought he would win multiple Super Bowls with Gang Green. Ryan is merely a coach trying to survive the very circus he helped create the past four seasons. He has only 2013 to make everything right for a Jets team with a lot of holes and a lot of issues.

In many ways, Ryan appears destined to fail. The Jets are tearing down their roster in what amounts to a must-win year for Ryan. New York lacks a franchise quarterback, has limited players on offense, and a tight salary cap. In addition, Ryan works for a new general manager, John Idzik, who won't hesitate to hire his own head coach if things go poorly.

This upcoming season is make-or-break for Ryan, but it doesn’t appear he's ready to go out quietly.

"We’re stepping up to plate with a bat in our hand and we’re not going to let any strikes go by without swinging," Ryan said. "We are going to take our cuts. We may take a cut at a ball in the ground as well, but we are definitely going to take our cuts. When we talk about being aggressive, I don’t know if we really know what that looks like."

There still are a few moments, like this, when Ryan shows some of his old spunk. But much of that swagger is lost, and now it mostly comes off as hot air following back-to-back non-winning seasons.

The Jets were an awful, 6-10 team last season. It’s going to take at least two or three years to rebuild New York into a contender again.

Unfortunately for Ryan, he doesn't have another two or three years. Here are the many issues Ryan must overcome to save his job in 2013:
Still, Idzik sounds confident that he can field a competitive team in New York next season.

"We're going to be attacking, we're going to be aggressive, we're going to be physical, we're going to play smart," Idzik said this week.

Unless Idzik can fix all of New York’s problems in one offseason, it's hard to see Ryan thriving next season and leading the Jets to the playoffs. Three consecutive seasons without a winning record and missing the playoffs doesn’t bode well for Ryan’s future.

Ryan started fast in New York with back-to-back AFC title games in the 2009 and 2010 seasons. But at this point, his tenure with the Jets appears to be running on fumes.