Rex Ryan’s status with Jets remains unclear

If it came down to a vote of players, media and fans, Rex Ryan

would be back with the New York Jets next season.

In a landslide.

But the court of public opinion will likely play very little

into the final decision by owner Woody Johnson and general manager

John Idzik. Ryan’s status as coach of the Jets is still difficult

to call.

”We’re working on Miami, and that’s where 100 percent of the

focus is,” Ryan insisted Monday.

It could be the final game of Ryan’s five-year tenure with the

Jets (7-8), who have failed to make the playoffs for three straight

seasons. Ryan still has one more year remaining on his contract, so

the speculation that the coach is in his final days with the Jets

could be overstated.

Neither Johnson nor Idzik has commented, and that has led to

debates, discussions and arguments whether Ryan deserves to be

back. Ryan also declined to comment on whether the owner or GM has

spoken to him about his future.

”Guys,” Ryan said, ”I think the entire organization’s

committed on trying to find a way to beat Miami.”

Several of Ryan’s players have used the word ”love” when

talking about their feelings for their coach during the last few

weeks. Many fans have taken to sports talk radio and social media

to show their support, with one even starting a petition that had

gathered nearly 200 signatures on the site change.org imploring

Johnson to keep Ryan.

The hashtag KeepRex on Twitter has also picked up some steam

since the Jets’ 24-13 victory over Cleveland on Sunday.

”It’s just one of those things where he really cares about his

players,” wide receiver David Nelson said. ”Players appreciate

that. Players know and they respect him for that. They believe in

him and they respect him and they play hard for him.

”I think it’s just the mutual respect he gives his

players.”

Several national and New York-area football columnists have

presented compelling arguments why Ryan coming back should be a

no-brainer. No. 1 among them is the fact Ryan has squeezed seven

wins out of a team expected to have a tough time approaching last

year’s 6-10 squad.

Despite the overwhelming show of support, Ryan reportedly told

his team Saturday night that ”word on the street” is that he’s

out after the season. There was also a published report that said

Ryan was angry that the team has begun considering possible

replacements.

”I’m not disgruntled about anything,” Ryan insisted, while

neither confirming nor denying the reports. ”I’m excited about the

opportunity that’s in front of us, which is the Dolphins.”

Ryan was retained last season when Johnson fired GM Mike

Tannenbaum, a surprising move considering many anticipated the Jets

would start from scratch – including the coach. Instead, Idzik was

hired under the condition that Ryan would be his coach, at least

for this season.

Now, Idzik could be looking to hire his own coach, as is usually

the case with NFL GMs. But Idzik is also looking for the ”right”

coach.

”He’s a player’s coach, a guy that we all love to play for, we

all love to compete for,” rookie quarterback Geno Smith said. ”We

all play for one another around here and it’s a very close-knit

bunch. Rex just has continued to be himself and that’s the reason

why we love him, and that’s the reason why we continue to go out

there and work hard in practice and continue to play hard.”

In a short video posted on the team’s website of Ryan’s postgame

speech Sunday, Johnson could be seen smiling and clapping as the

fired-up coach celebrated the victory. While that could be merely

trying to garner clues from body language, there’s also this to

consider: If Johnson’s preference is to keep Ryan but he allows

Idzik to make whatever move he sees fit, the heat on the GM could

be immense if the franchise takes a step back without Ryan.

Idzik would also, in a span of less than a year, be the guy who

traded the popular Darrelle Revis and fired Ryan. They would be

bold – and mostly unpopular – moves, and decisions that could

define Idzik’s legacy.

But for six more days at least, Ryan will continue to treat

things as business as usual.

”Well, that’s easy,” Ryan said. ”I have a job to do.”

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org