Ryan coming back; Dolphins going nowhere
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP)
Rex Ryan is coming back next year. The Miami Dolphins are sitting out another postseason.
The New York Jets eliminated the Dolphins from playoff contention with a 20-7 victory Sunday, then celebrated the news that their coach will return in 2014.
Ryan was told before the game by owner Woody Johnson. The coach's status had been in doubt because the Jets (8-8) missed the playoffs for the third year in a row.
For Miami (8-8), the postseason drought is even longer - five years. Two weeks ago the Dolphins were front-runners in the race for the last AFC wild-card berth, but they lost their final two games to non-playoff teams, including a shutout at last-place Buffalo.
Here are five things we learned as the AFC East rivals head into the offseason:
RYAN RETAINED: A roar reverberated in the Jets' postgame locker room when Johnson told the team Ryan would be back next season.
''It felt as if you won the Super Bowl,'' quarterback Geno Smith said. ''Having our head coach back, a guy we enjoy playing for, it's great.''
Ryan was given the news before the game. He's 42-38 in the regular season with the Jets, and his future had been in question even though he's popular with players, has a 4-2 postseason record and has a year left on his contract.
''We've missed the playoffs three straight years, and that bothers me, no question,'' Ryan said.
General manager John Idzik, who is completing his first year with the Jets, denied any strain in his relationship with Ryan.
''We were together from the beginning,'' Idzik said. ''I know there's speculation throughout the season otherwise, but we always worked together. He's been tremendous to work for and work with. He's a leader, a motivator. He's a teacher. He's a great coach, too.''
MIAMI'S UPS AND DOWNS: The Dolphins' roller-coaster season included a four-game losing streak, a bullying scandal that drew national scrutiny, and a December surge that briefly left Miami in control of its playoff destiny - but turned out to be a tease.
''It wasn't dull, I can tell you that,'' defensive end Cameron Wake said. ''But 8-8, that's average. And I don't look around this locker room and see average. Inconsistency has been our issue, and here it is again showing its ugly head today.''
The Dolphins beat four playoff teams - New England, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and San Diego - but lost twice to Buffalo and once to Tampa Bay.
MIAMI SHAKEUP?: The Dolphins were outscored 39-7 in their final two games. Now owner Stephen Ross must decide whether to shake up a regime led by second-year coach Joe Philbin and sixth-year general manager Jeff Ireland.
''You have to earn your way into the playoffs. Clearly we didn't do that,'' Philbin said. ''The results start with me. The head coach is responsible for the results. The offense, the defense, the special teams, the record - it starts with me. Let's not stand here and blame the players.''
SWEET REVENGE: The Jets were eager to atone for a 23-3 loss to the Dolphins on Dec. 1, which Ryan said might have been the season's low point.
''Quite honestly, we owed them,'' Ryan said. ''This team is getting better. This was going to be a proving ground for that. This was a team that whipped us. That was the main driving force.''
Smith was benched during that loss. In the rematch, the rookie led three long scoring drives and threw for 190 yards. He also ran for 44 yards and a score.
''After the benching, I had to dig deep - a lot of soul-searching, the first time it ever happened to me in my life,'' Smith said. ''Quite honestly, I don't like it. That was part of the decision-making of the coaches. I just had to continue believing in myself.''
Tannehill overthrew an open Wallace deep. Wallace dropped a potential touchdown pass, then slipped and fell on the first of three Jets interceptions.
''Missed opportunities,'' Tannehill said. ''It's definitely going to take a little while to get over this one.''
Wallace caught a touchdown pass, his fifth of the year, but said the Dolphins let the Jets win.
''We knew what we had on the line, and we didn't come up with the plays we needed,'' Wallace said.
Tannehill had passer ratings of 45.6 and 42.1 in the final two games.
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