Commentary

Biggest loser if Jets trade Revis? Rex

Without his star cornerback, Ryan is a card shark without an ace up his sleeve

Updated: March 6, 2013, 9:37 AM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

If the New York Jets trade Darrelle Revis -- and it looks like it's moving in that direction -- the biggest loser is Rex Ryan.

In case you haven't heard, Ryan is fighting for his job. After two straight years out of the playoffs, he's out of mulligans, and he knows he's the next to go if there's not a spike in the win total.

Publicly, Ryan has approached his "Dead Coach Walking" status with his usual competitive arrogance, vowing to come out swinging, but that could change if his bosses take Revis away from him.

He would be furious and frustrated. No matter what he says publicly, Ryan doesn't want to trade Revis. Why would he? He's a win-now coach, and the Jets will become a tomorrow team if they send their best player packing for a couple of draft picks.

With an unsettled quarterback situation and little in the way of offense, Ryan's best chance of survival is to win with his beloved defense. Without Revis, whose ability to cover half the field allows the defense to play aggressively with pressure schemes, Ryan is a card shark with no ace up his sleeve.

Ryan is trying to act cool, telling fans and media there's "no truth" to the trade speculation as far as he knows, but let's be real: He hears things, even if it's not coming from owner Woody Johnson or his new boss, general manager John Idzik.

The Jets are dangling Revis in trade talks, and Ryan knows it. No doubt, he will voice his opinion to keep Revis, but this decision goes all the way up to Johnson, who doesn't want to pay quarterback money to his star cornerback. There have been no contract talks.

You think Ryan was upset after the Butt Fumble? That will pale in comparison to how he'd react to a Revis trade. He'd rather polish Bill Belichick's Super Bowl rings than lose Revis.

"There will be fireworks," one team source predicted.

Obviously, Johnson and Idzik have to do what's best for the organization, which is how Ryan responded last season whenever he was asked if he was mulling a quarterback change. But know this: If "John-zik" decides it's best to move Revis, the epicenter of the fallout will be an angry coach.

Some in league circles believe the Revis/Jets standoff is headed to a trade, possibly before the draft in late April. By then, he'll be six months into his knee rehab, and interested teams will have a better idea of where he stands from a health standpoint. That might be too soon for some teams, which could affect his market value.

In the meantime, the Jets continue to engage in double-talk, saying how much they want a healthy Revis back in their building but refusing to kill the trade talk. All the speculation has made an impact on Revis, who seems resigned to a trade.

"Revis Island will be back on the field soon," he told Seattle Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson in an online interview posted Monday night. "I don't know, we'll see where the future leads to -- if I'll be back with the Jets or not. It really doesn't matter, I just want to play football."

Revis committed a public-relations faux pas by responding to a question about the San Francisco 49ers, saying it would be "awesome" to win a Super Bowl with them -- not what devoted Jets fans want to hear from a two-time holdout looking to break the bank.

Presumably, Ryan saw the interview. It had to be unsettling, seeing his best player openly wonder about his future. He needs Revis to have a chance. Ryan knows last season's No. 2 ranking in pass defense (sans Revis for 14 games) is a bogus stat; opponents didn't have to throw much because they were almost always ahead.

Yeah, Revis Island probably will be back, but if it's not with the Jets, his coach will feel like he's on his own island.

Tom Hanks in "Castaway."

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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