With the New York Jets organization preparing to begin interviews with general manager candidates, and with his coaching staff in limbo, Rex Ryan is on vacation in the Bahamas, sources confirmed Wednesday night.
Ryan and the assistant coaches have the week off, so he decided to take a few days off as the team starts the process of choosing his new boss.
Ryan and owner Woody Johnson have come under fire for not being available to discuss the Jets' disappointing season and the firing of general manager Mike Tannenbaum. Finally, the team announced Wednesday that Ryan and Johnson will conduct a "season-ending" news conference -- nine days after the season ended.
By waiting that long, the Jets will be in violation of the league's media policy, which states that the coach and a team official must conduct a news conference during the week after the season ends. The NFL will look into the matter, a league spokesman said.
Johnson also has been out of town. He skipped the season finale in Buffalo, returned Monday to fire Tannenbaum and meet with the entire organization, and left again to an undisclosed location. Johnson, who has remained in touch with team officials, will be back in time to participate in the GM interviews, which begin Friday and will run through the weekend.
There is virtually no chance the Jets will hire a new GM by Tuesday's news conference.
Ryan and Johnson could've taken care of their media obligation immediately after the season without creating a firestorm. Instead, the team released a five-paragraph statement from Johnson, with no comment from Ryan, one of the most media-friendly coaches in the league.
Even though Johnson indicated in a statement Monday that Ryan will be back as coach, the delay has fueled speculation about his future. Ryan told the team Monday morning he will be back and, according to sources, he gave no indication during his Monday staff meeting that he's plotting an exit strategy.
Another source described Ryan as "anxious" because of the uncertainty surrounding the organization. Even though he received a public vote of confidence from Johnson, albeit in a press release, Ryan has concerns because he won't have any input in the GM interviews, sources said. Ryan could end up working for a stranger, knowing he will be in a make-or-break situation next year.
"Everyone is in limbo," one source said.
Ryan is supposed to have control over the coaching staff, but he told his staff his hands are tied until they hire a new GM, one source said -- an indication that Ryan's power over his staff is frozen during the transition.
That doesn't help embattled offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. ESPN reported Sunday that Sparano will be fired, but the Associated Press reported Wednesday that no decision has been made on Sparano's status. Sources said Ryan wants to bring in a new coordinator, and former San Diego Chargers coach Norv Turner is said to be on his short list.
Chances are the organization wants the new GM to have the ability to sign off on hirings and firings.
The Professional Football Writers of America, citing the media policy violation, lodged a complaint with the league on Wednesday.
"We have been assured the league is looking into it," PFWA president Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News said. "We'll await word from the NFL."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.