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Rex Ryan Will Have a Busy Offseason

Ryan needs to take full control of the Jets to move them forward

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The same old same old won't work for Rex going forward.

    Ugly is too kind a word for the way the Jets ended the season.

    Three straight losses of escalating degrees of humiliation left the team out of the playoffs and slinking back to town from Miami with their tails between their legs.

    There was plenty of embarrassment to go around as Mark Sanchez fell even further and the defense failed to live up to its reputation, but nothing revealed just how off the rails the Jets went this year than the Santonio Holmes saga.

    Holmes, upset at being underutilized on offense all season, spent most of Sunday sniping at his teammates when he wasn't sulking silently about his role on the team.

    It eventually got to be too much for offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and Holmes found himself benched in the fourth quarter while the Jets tried a last-ditch comeback.

    The rest of the Jets pulled no punches after the game when it came to Holmes. LaDainian Tomlinson, Brandon Moore, Matthew Slauson and several guys who wouldn't put their names to quotes made it clear that Holmes quit on his team Sunday and that he wasn't much of a teammate over the course of the season.

    Rex Ryan was naturally asked about Holmes after the game. If you thought he'd make a passionate statement about everyone needing to pull on the same rope and decrying the behavior of a man that he made a captain before this season as unworthy of the Jets, you'd be sorely mistaken.

    "I looked out there and was wondering why he wasn't out there myself," Ryan said. "I did not bench Santonio. Maybe you'll have to ask him."

    It actually explains why Holmes is a captain of the team. When the coach isn't willing to stand up and be held accountable for his team, why would you think the captains would be any different?

    It should boggle the mind that a head coach could stand in front of the media after what went down in Miami and completely absolve himself of any responsibility for a decision on the magnitude of benching Holmes in a game that was still in doubt. If Rex was wondering what was going on, it never dawned on him to ask Schottenheimer what was up?

    The mind is not boggled because Rex has consistently done this when things have gone wrong this season. In the wake of the Giants loss, Ryan said that the team obviously isn't built to drop back to pass 67 times in a game and that he was surprised to see them throwing so much.

    Implicit in that statement is that Ryan never told Schotty to run the offense differently and that Ryan was more interested in shielding himself from responsibility than he was about making sure the offense ran the way he wanted it.

    Same thing with the Holmes case, as Ryan is more concerned with keeping up a relationship with Holmes than he is backing up Schottenheimer's decision about kicking Holmes out of the game.

    Schottenheimer might be gone before too much longer and Holmes' contract likely guarantees he'll stay, but none of that should matter to Ryan. What should matter to Ryan is that twice in two weeks he's exposed himself as something less than a head coach by punting on matters having to do with the offense.

    Before the start of next season, Ryan has to become a real head coach and not just a cheerleader who likes to coach the defense.

    That's not a suggestion that he becomes some Belichickian micromanager who has his fingerprints in everything, but you have to be in total control of the football team and Ryan made it clear the last two weeks that he has chosen not to take that kind of control.

    The work just starts there. He needs to be more honest in his player evaluations, needs to stop coddling players like Holmes and figure out if his own lack of discipline (verbal or otherwise) is part of the reason why his team is so sloppy on the field.

    After the way things spun out of control this season, this could be an offseason of great change on the Jets' roster and coaching staff.

    Ryan will be back, but he needs to make the same kinds of changes to grow as a coach and best serve the organization.

    If he doesn't, you can bet Sunday's circus won't be the last one that masquerades as a football game in Ryan's tenure.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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