Eliminated from playoff contention for a third straight season,
the New York Jets enter their final two games with nothing of value
Coach Rex Ryan, though, may have his job on the line.
With Ryan nearing the end of his contract, the Jets attempt to
conclude their home schedule with a sixth victory by sending the
Cleveland Browns to a sixth straight loss Sunday.
New York (6-8) is officially out of the playoff race for a third
consecutive season under Ryan after reaching the AFC championship
in his first two.
The Jets lost for the fourth time in five games, 30-20 at
Carolina last weekend, and their postseason fate was sealed with
Baltimore’s 18-16 win over Detroit on Monday.
Now, Ryan’s job may be the most significant thing at stake, and
that was once considered a foregone conclusion. Prior to the start
of the season, the Jets were widely expected to be gift-wrapping a
high draft pick for fans by this time.
“Look, I’m a competent guy, even though I know that will be
questioned a zillion times forward and backward, whatever, that’s
fine,” he said. “But I know I’m a good football coach. I believe in
this team. I believe in this organization and I’m determined to
bring a winner to this team, there’s no question about it.
“I know and I believe that I’m the right guy for it. Now again,
I’m not the guy making that decision.”
That decision will likely be made between owner Woody Johnson
and general manager John Idzik, who haven’t spoken publicly about
Ryan’s case for a new contract, however, could be reinforced if
New York can win its final two games against Cleveland (4-10) and
at Miami and finish .500 after last season’s 6-10 record.
“We’re going out there and playing for Rex because he’s our head
coach and we want to play hard for him and we want to win games for
him,” quarterback Geno Smith said. “He coaches us hard, he puts the
time and effort in and he deserves for our team to go out and
that’s what we do every single week.
“I love Rex. And despite what decision is made, my feelings
toward him will never change.”
Smith will be looking to improve his chances for returning as
New York’s starter in 2014. The rookie has completed 58.5 percent
of his passes for 386 yards with two touchdowns and two
interceptions over the last two games, while adding 94 yards on 11
rushes with another score.
He had a 30.6 rating over the previous five games, throwing
eight picks with no TDs and a dismal 47.1 completion rate.
Smith, though, could be poised for a better effort with the
Browns having allowed an average of 33.0 points during their
five-game losing streak, surrendering a total of 924 yards – 658
passing – over the past two contests.
Despite Smith’s struggles, the defense – Ryan’s calling card –
may have been the biggest reason the Jets were in the playoff
discussion at all. The unit ranks third in the league against the
run, yielding an average of 86.1 yards while its 38 sacks are
already more than the 30 it had last season.
The defense, though, has allowed an average of 409.3 total yards
– 135.3 rushing -in the past three games.
The Browns will try to capitalize on the Jets’ recent defensive
issues and record their first victory since beating the Ravens on
They blew a fourth-quarter lead for the third straight game
Sunday, falling 38-31 to Chicago. Cleveland has lost at least 10
games in six straight seasons.
“It’s very disappointing, very disappointing,” said cornerback
Joe Haden, “especially when you have a team that you know that can
win. It’s frustrating, but you always try to stay positive, you
always try to look ahead and we still got two more games left.”
The Browns may be without Haden for at least one of those games,
as he’s nursing a hip pointer.
Jordan Cameron’s status is also unclear after he suffered a
concussion against the Bears. The tight end leads the Browns with
75 receptions in a breakout season that includes career highs of
848 yards and seven touchdowns.
“As bad as we want him to be out there with us playing on the
field, I care more for his health and his safety,” said quarterback
Jason Campbell, who completed 23 of 39 passes for 273 yards with
one touchdown and two INTs last week.