|ESPN.com: NFL||[Print without images]|
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan, who once guaranteed he'd lead the New York Jets to their first Super Bowl since Joe Namath, is out of bold predictions.
Instead of talking about his pursuit of the Lombardi Trophy, Ryan spent a good part of his Monday news conference answering questions about whether he believes he'll remain the Jets' coach beyond the final two games.
Ryan said he hasn't heard anything from ownership, but he claimed he's still the right man for the job.
"Of course, I believe it," he said. "No question, I believe it. There's no doubt about it."
The Jets have won only 12 of their last 33 games, and they're headed toward their third straight non-playoff season. But Ryan insisted they're moving in the right direction with him in charge.
"Look, I'm a competent coach even though I know that will be questioned a zillion times forward and backward," he said. "That's fine, but I know I'm a good football coach. I believe in this team, I believe in this organization."
"I'm determined to bring a winner to this team, there's no question about it," Ryan added. "I believe I'm the right guy for it. But I'm not the guy making that decision. If I was, it would be easy."
Ryan's fate will be determined by owner Woody Johnson and first-year general manager John Idzik, who had no say in Ryan's status after last season's 6-10 season.
I'm determined to bring a winner to this team, there's no question about it. I believe I'm the right guy for it. But I'm not the guy making that decision.” -- Rex Ryan
This time, Idzik may want to bring in his own coach, especially with the Jets (6-8) headed toward their third straight non-winning season. Ryan has one year left on his contract for about $3 million.
For what it's worth, Ryan received an endorsement from guard Willie Colon, who said the franchise would suffer without the fifth-year coach.
"I'll stand on a soap box and say, 'Rex is my coach,' " Colon said. "He's one of the main reasons I came here. I love the guy to death. I love his passion, I love his heart. I think if he doesn't come back it would be a step back for us as a team."
The Jets' 30-20 loss to the Carolina Panthers left them on the brink of elimination. If the Baltimore Ravens beat the Detroit Lions on Monday night, the Jets will miss the tournament for the third straight year -- their longest drought since the mid-1990s.
In a desperate attempt to boost morale, Ryan showed a path-to-the-playoffs scenario in Monday's team meeting.
"I don't know what the percentage is, maybe a one percent chance of getting in, but, by gosh, we're going for it," he said.
It has been a stunning decline for Ryan, who led the Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship Games in his first two seasons, 2009 and 2010. Before the 2011 season, he guaranteed a Super Bowl.
Since then, their record is 20-26. Ryan disagreed with the notion that the Jets are going backward.
"I think this team is on the right path," he said. "It might not be reflected in our record right now -- I understand that -- but I believe this team is going in the right direction."
Many experts didn't think the Jets, with a roster in transition, would win as many as six games. Ryan lost his presumptive starting quarterback, Mark Sanchez, to a season-ending injury in the preseason, forcing him to start rookie Geno Smith, who has struggled with 21 interceptions.
Ryan insisted he's not thinking about his job, just the next opponent, the Cleveland Browns (4-10). One of the veteran leaders, center Nick Mangold, also said he's not concerned with the speculation.
Asked if the locker room still believes in Ryan, Mangold gave a vague answer.
"We're competitors who believe in each other," he said. "We believe in our coaches, we believe in our locker room. Otherwise, we wouldn't show up day in and day out."