Maybe he isn’t enough of a control freak to be an NFL head coach. Maybe he just isn’t button-downed enough. Whatever the underlying reasons, New York Jets Coach Rex Ryan is running a dysfunctional football team right now — and it was jaw-droppingly apparent in a nationally televised loss Thanksgiving night that the New York Post called “Butt Ugly.”
After a scoreless first quarter, the New England Patriots scored three times (on offense, defense and special teams) in a 52-second span that was shocking even by Jets standards. The Patriots won 49-19 and one botched play tells you all you need to know. Embattled quarterback Mark Sanchez committed what he said was a “mental error” when he turned the wrong way on a handoff and had no choice but to run with the ball himself. Run he did, smack into the butt of offensive lineman Brandon Moore, who had met the immovable wall that is Vince Wilfork. Sanchez fumbled, the Pats’ Steve Gregory scooped up the ball and scored. (And you thought it was bad that time he hit Tim Tebow in the head with a ball.) Internet reaction was swift and savage. Eric Stangel from “The Late Show with David Letterman” tweeted: “BREAKING: Brandon Moore’s [butt] fined $25,000 for [butt]-to-helmet hit…” Cameras caught Ryan calling it “[expletive] unbelievable.”
The Jets gave up five touchdowns in the second quarter, even though the Patriots had the ball for all of 2 minutes, 12 seconds. “I thought that was almost impossible to do,” Ryan said. “They found a way to do it.”
That left Jets fans clamoring for a quarterback change, but Tim Tebow couldn’t try to ride to the rescue with an infusion of Tebowmania — he said after the game that he has two broken ribs. And Greg McElroy was inactive for the game. All the embarrassed Jets could do was play out the game, then wonder just where they go from here. Ryan spoke of a team that’s “wounded” but “isn’t dead yet.” They may be the only ones believing that, though, with “Rex must go” chants all over MetLife Stadium. Owner Woody Johnson wasn’t speaking after the game, but ESPN New York’s Ian O’Connor says Ryan’s time is up.
Rex was born to be a top-shelf defensive coordinator, or TV’s next John Madden, or a standup comic at some casino in Vegas.
He wasn’t born to be an NFL head coach any more than his father Buddy was born to be an NFL head coach, and nobody’s taking any pleasure in making that claim. Ryan comes across as good people, and he makes most weekdays spent in his company a little less predictable and a lot more fun.
But he admitted losing control of his team and locker room in 2011, and he no longer needs to make that admission in 2012. His Jets said it all for him when they spotted the Patriots 35 second-quarter points, allowed them to score 21 of those points in 52 unforgettable seconds, and all but put Rich Kotite’s worst hours to shame.
Johnson will ride out the rest of this lost season with [General Manager Mike] Tannenbaum and Ryan, but he has to begin making some back-room moves now. Today, not tomorrow. He needs to start putting out feelers to the free-agent likes of Sean Payton, Tony Dungy, Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher, and to the biggest stars of the college game, the Nick Sabans and the Chip and Brian Kellys and the David Shaws.
Maybe Ryan makes it through the end of the season, maybe even into 2013. But the Post was right about one thing: Right now, this situation is butt ugly.
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