Put your forks away for the moment.
Rex Ryan may not be done after Woody Johnson, his biggest supporter during this wildly entertaining and marginally successful five-year run, admitted Sunday that he’s been pleased with a team that is on the brink of missing the playoffs for the third consecutive year.
“I’m pretty happy with the way things are going,” Johnson said on the Jets’ pregame show on ESPN radio before Ryan’s team snapped a three-game slide with a 37-27 win over the Raiders.
Although Johnson wasn’t specifically asked about Ryan, the owner suggested that the offseason may not be as tough as some believe it will be (with the obvious implication that a coaching change is on the horizon). The boss offered Ryan more than a glimmer of hope by suggesting that patience could prevail over impulse.
Ryan’s seat is seemingly simmering, but Johnson relayed a measured and smart approach in his first public comments in six weeks. He didn’t make any definitive declarations about Ryan’s future, but sounded like a guy who has an open mind about giving his head coach every opportunity to salvage his job in the final month of what could be a third consecutive season without a winning record.
“I feel great about that, but again, we know we have a ton of work to do,” Ryan said about Johnson’s comments. “That’s the focus. We haven’t put two (consecutive) wins together all season.”
The 6-7 Jets still have one of the most anemic wide receiver/tight end groups in the league, but injuries to players like Jeremy Kerley and Santonio Holmes exacerbated those deficiencies in recent weeks. Both receivers returned Sunday to help the Jets set a season high with 37 points.
Ryan asked fans and critics to judge his team from this point forward to “get a more accurate (picture) about who we are, especially offensively.”
Johnson wisely appears to be doing just that.
“We make those decisions after the season,” Johnson said when asked about potentially sticky choices that may have to be made in a few weeks. “It’s really about the direction we think the learning curve is going and whether the young people are absorbing, and whether it’s a formula that can help you win. … It’s a complicated thing. At the end of the day, you want to give players the opportunity to win, which is what I think we’re doing.”
Johnson sounded nothing like the guy who foolishly suggested in September that Mark Sanchez should have somehow better protected himself on a crushing hit that ultimately led to season-ending shoulder surgery.
In fact, he sounded more like respected Texans owner Bob McNair, who was exceedingly patient with Gary Kubiak for eight years before finally firing him last week.
ohnson appeared to have a solid grasp of Ryan’s situation: The Jets roster is sprinkled with youth at pivotal positions.
Ryan helped the Jets overachieve for the first nine weeks before the team went into a tailspin that raised the temperature on his seat. Johnson commended Ryan’s players for “the way they’ve hung in there” and “the way they’ve tried to learn.” The players credit Ryan for that.
“Since I’ve been a Jet, Rex has been so selfless,” veteran right guard Willie Colon said. “He bleeds green. He believes in this team even when sometimes you don’t believe in yourself. There’s so many times he stood up in front of us and really cried and did everything to show us that if we stay together, it can get done. ... He gives us his all. He gives us his heart. ... We love Rex. I love him. I’ll be the first one to step on a soap box and scream, ‘Keep him!’ ”
Put your forks away for the moment.