The traditional template for NFL head coaches is that they are involved in all facets of the game. They may delegate responsibilities to coordinators, but the team usually has an identity that comes from the head man even if he isn't calling every play run by the offense or defense. The Jets haven't worked that way this season.
Rex Ryan has been in charge of the defense and that's it. He didn't know that special teams coach Mike Westhoff would kick to Ted Ginn of Miami a second time until Ginn was cruising to a second touchdown and hasn't had his fingers in the plays called by Brian Schottenheimer on offense. Whether it is genuine interest or self-preservation, Ryan has decided that he'll no longer be watching the clouds while his team has the ball and will be more involved with Mark Sanchez.
I'm going to be right there. I'm going to be standing shoulder to shoulder with Brian (Schottenheimer). I'm going to understand what we have, what the play is, and I'm going to make sure that (Sanchez) understands the situation in the game and what we expect from him.
Better late than never, but this episode reveals much more than a belated realization that there are problems on offense. It reveals the convoluted power structures inside the organization that have been formed by following public relations instead of your gut when it comes to decision making.
When the Jets fired Eric Mangini, they considered Schottenheimer as a candidate for the head coaching job and received much ridicule from their fanbase because of the role Schottenheimer played in helping the team go from 8-3 to out of the playoffs last season. The fanbase and the papers loved Ryan, though, and because he had no offensive background, the Jets thought they could make keeping Schottenheimer a condition of getting the job. Ryan wanted to be a head coach more than he wanted to fight for a side of the ball that doesn't particularly interest him and the Jets are left with a camel for a coaching staff.
If the Jets wanted Schottenheimer as the head coach, if they really believed he was capable of doing the job, then they should have had the fortitude to do it and suffered the consequences. If they wanted Ryan, there should have been no strings attached to offering him the job. Again, better late than never, but this decision making by sticking in a finger in the air happens far too often.
It's not all doom and gloom, though. It's encouraging that Ryan, unlike his bosses, is showing a willingness to learn from his mistakes and change his ways to be more successful going forward. That's something Mangini refused to do, hiding behind the "process," and it's a good lesson for the entire organization going forward.
It might be too little and too late for the 2009 season, but we'll take green shoots where we can find them in the middle of six losses in seven games.