Ryan coming back; Dolphins going nowhere

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.”

TROUBLED TANDEM: Miami’s Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace found

it difficult to click in the finale, a recurring problem all

season.

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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