National Football League
Here is who Rex Ryan needs to rip
National Football League

Here is who Rex Ryan needs to rip

Published Dec. 27, 2011 12:00 a.m. ET

Loud-mouthed Rex Ryan should have saved his talk for his offensive coordinator. Or his quarterback.

It’s easy picking a winner in the NFC East. Not so easy for the AFC wild card.

I’ll shout it again; Aaron Rodgers is the league MVP.

Plus, I get Norved, the Lions are back, Drew Brees is rather amazing and the Bucs are not.


It’s our belated Christmas present, our weekly SCHEIN 9.

1. The monologue

The back page of the Christmas Day edition of the New York Post shouted, “Shut up, fat boy” with a picture of Brandon Jacobs in the face of Rex Ryan. Saturday was Ryan’s worst nightmare, and to a large extent, exposed him as fraudulent to his fan base. His team blew a lead and was rather inept in a must-win, bragging rights game against the Giants. Yes, this is the same Rex Ryan who is the “boy who cried Super Bowl,” going back to his proclamation at the NFL Combine when he didn’t know anyone’s roster and we were on the verge of labor unrest. This is the same Rex Ryan who wrongly claimed that New York was a Jets town and the Jets were better than the Giants. It is the same Rex Ryan who challenged the rest of the league to beat the Patriots, which the Giants did this season as the Jets went 0-2 vs. Bill Belichick and Co.

Rex Ryan earned a free pass for close to three years in New York. He made the conference championship game in back-to-back years. He successfully changed the culture Eric Mangini had eroded. The free pass is over. He promised a Super Bowl title. In this regard, Ryan has proved to be full of hot air. Now the Jets need three different scenarios to unfold this weekend, plus they have to actually beat Miami, in order for the Jets to even make the playoffs. In the last two weeks, Ryan’s team was ill-prepared and choked away playoff destiny. It would be foolish to say Ryan is on the hot seat. But he has lost a ton of credibility with the fans, media and the city of New York.

Rex Ryan knows his defense must play better and tackle, something it didn’t do in allowing Victor Cruz to scamper 99 yards for a difference-making touchdown in the second quarter. But Rex is a bright man. He knows deep in his heart the real issue on this team. Mark Sanchez has regressed this year. He was drafted to be a functional, winning quarterback with a good run game and dominant defense. So why would the Jets think their best chance of winning on Saturday was with Sanchez?

Mike Florio reported on Sunday night that the Jets are starting to sour on Mark Sanchez, who was truly dreadful (again) against the Giants. Last week, before the horrible defeat to the Giants, one member of the organization whispered, “Our concern right now is whether or not he (Sanchez) is getting better.” That’s valid. But after three years and playoff success, you don’t change the quarterback. You change the coaching around him before you jettison your quarterback. You change the offensive coordinator to save your quarterback. The Jets are not going to chuck Sanchez to the scrap heap after his third year. He does have four road playoff wins. They want him to be coached up. They need Sanchez to really be coached up before making an absolute decision. That’s the responsible thing to do.

Brian Schotteheimer has been maligned by Jets fans for a long time. A favorite of general manager Mike Tannenbaum’s, Schottenheimer was held over by Ryan from the Mangini era (or error). It seemed like a doomed marriage from the start. Ryan likes to tell the world he favors the “ground and pound” attack. That’s been more of a myth than a mantra. Schotty believes in anything but that. Rex, who at times still thinks of himself as a coordinator, lets Schottenheimer have full autonomy of calling the plays. That’s a problem. If you don’t believe me, ask Rex, who rightly blasted Schottenheimer postgame, questioning the logic behind throwing the ball over 60 times with a quarterback who truly is not ready for that. As Rex said, “We are not built for that.” It is inexcusable to throw the ball 60 times with Mark Sanchez. And yes, he’s talking about his quarterback, whether he states that publicly or not. Schottenheimer started out the third quarter with three straight pass plays, all incomplete passes, including a near pick by Deon Grant. With five minutes to go and the Jets down a score, he again dialed up three pass plays with a quarterback who can’t execute his game plan, eschewing Shonn Greene and the ground and pound approach. It was illogical.

It begs some interesting questions.

Rex is on the headset. How does he allow Schottenheimer to call these plays? It is clear they aren’t sharing a brain and there is a divide in the coaching staff.

Tom Moore has been with the team as an offensive consultant. Do teams that trust their offensive coordinator, offensive staff or their quarterbacks, use an offensive consultant? Do they have a Tom Moore type in Green Bay, New Orleans or New England? I didn’t think so. Don’t listen to spin. Tom Moore’s presence tells you all you need to know about the Jets confidence level in the staff. The divide between Rex and Schottenheimer has been there for quite some time. Everyone involved with the Jets has been anticipating a potential break-up after this season.

It was leaked to members of the press earlier this year that Schottenheimer signed a new contract. Don’t believe that this is iron clad. The Jets have poked around changing offensive coordinators and quarterback coaches. Matt Cavanaugh is not safe. And it makes sense. Coaxing Moore to become the offensive coordinator is an option. Offensive line coach Bill Callahan could be appointed to take over if he isn’t plucked by another team to be an offensive coordinator or head coach. And trust me, Callahan’s on the radar. I like Brian Schottenheimer. But it is clear he isn’t on the same page as Rex Ryan. And before Sanchez takes the fall, it makes more sense to see if he can be coached up and improve.

Rex should’ve saved his best talk for game day, screaming, “Run the damn ball” at his offensive coordinator, before it became too late.

2. NFC East

The Giants shut up and humbled the Jets. It sets up a New Year’s Day showdown vs. Dallas for the NFC East title. Tony Romo’s hand got banged up and he couldn’t finish against Philly. The early feel is that he will play on Saturday night. Rex Ryan is a loud mouth, but he can coach. Rob Ryan is totally overrated as a defensive coordinator. Ahmad Bradshaw woke up against the Jets. Tom Coughlin is a vastly superior in-game coach, compared to Jason Garrett. Eli Manning will light up the Cowboys, again, and the Giants will make the playoffs. Jason Pierre-Paul will dominate Romo and the Cowboys offensive line like he did a few weeks ago.

Who really trusts Romo when it matters the most?

3. Backseat coaching

It is so easy to give the Bengals’ first-year offensive coordinator Jay Gruden credit for Andy Dalton’s development. And it is accurate.

It is so easy to give the Bengals outstanding defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer credit for Cincy’s improved defense. And it is more than accurate. Zimmer deserves interviews for head coaching vacancies.

It’s not so popular crediting Marvin Lewis. He has the Bengals at 9-6, a win away from the playoffs. Win or lose against the Ravens, and I predict a loss, Lewis has done a remarkable job with this team this year. It goes to show what Lewis can do when he isn’t forced to have one set of rules for everyone, and another set for Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens.

4. AFC Wild Card

It is one muddled mess. The Bengals control their own destiny to make the playoffs, but I don’t see them beating Baltimore. The Titans need a win and Houston is locked into the No. 3 seed. While some say the Texans have nothing to play for, I think Houston needs to get its mojo back. The golden start, the goodwill after making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, feels like a lifetime ago after getting clobbered by Carolina at home and inexplicably losing to Indy. If I’m Houston, I’m playing hard and playing to win to give your team a chance mentally to win in the playoffs. They are clearly not ready for the playoffs. I don’t trust the Raiders. It is impossible to trust the Jets against the Dolphins. I like Denver to beat KC. It’s crazy, but I think the Raiders and Jets actually have a chance if they can win. How Houston and Gary Kubiak attacks the game is going to be fascinating. Personally, I think it is a no-brainer.

5. Amateur hour/AFC West

Tim Tebow gave Merril Hoge and the rest of the critics ammunition with a grotesque, four-interception performance against the seemingly defunct Bills. And now they need to beat old friend Kyle Orton and the Chiefs to hold onto the division after the Broncos loss and the Raiders win against Kansas City. John Elway dumped Orton because he was interception-prone. I don’t think Orton gets revenge. I think he shows his true colors. Tebow is a conundrum wrapped in a riddle. John Fox’s defense is well-coached. I think Denver wins an ugly game.

6. Color me impressed

Drew Brees put on an absolute clinic on Monday night.

He gets my vote for offensive player of the year. Aaron Rodgers is my MVP.

7. My guys

Matthew Stafford: The Lions are back in the playoffs, largely because they have a true franchise quarterback who carried his team into the tournament despite injuries at running back and team adversity.

Jim Schwartz: We sang Schwartz’s praises in Friday’s column in anticipation of the Lions clinching a spot in the tournament. I loved the Lions’ postgame celebration and the sheer joy and appreciation of the hard work. I also loved how Schwartz said there will be a time where they won’t celebrate as hard just making the playoffs. You have to love Jim Schwartz.

Bill Belichick: With his team trailing at the half, and flat-out embarrassing themselves against the lowly Dolphins, Belichick reportedly unleashed a profanity-filled tirade on his team. It worked. New England came back to win and is in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

Cam Newton: Chalk up three more touchdowns in an epic rookie season.

Victor Cruz: His 99-yard touchdown was a gigantic momentum swing in the battle of New York.

8. My goats

Jerry Angelo: Bears fans should hope the report that he might retire is accurate. Both teams had injuries, yet the talent differential was so very noticeable on Sunday night.

Norv Turner: That team is ridiculously inconsistent.

Chiefs field goal unit: Tough to get that blocked at the end of the fourth quarter, ruining your chance to beat the Raiders and play for a division title.

Raheem Morris: He has totally lost the Bucs.

Falcons defense: Yikes.

9. Three nuggets of wisdom

1. Adrian Peterson tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. The start of his 2012 season is in jeopardy. It doesn’t get much worse for the Vikings or their fans.

2. Props to Marshawn Lynch for scoring on the Niners, who gave up their first rushing touchdown of the year. Props to the Niners for the win and keeping their edge for the coveted No. 2 seed in the NFC.

3. Going into Week 17, I count seven legit candidates for defensive player of the year.


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