The New York Jets started the 2013 NFL season with a boat load of critics who believed that the Jets were set up for nothing but failure this season. New GM John Idzik took over an organization that was much in flux after Mike Tannenbaum made the Jets a circus with Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez. Before the season began, Rex Ryan knew he was on a short leash and that an unsatisfying 2013 season would be the end of his tenure as the Jets head coach.
The Jets offseason didn’t show any signs of major progression. They traded away their best player, cornerback Darrelle Revis, to the Tampa Buccaneers for a first round draft pick.
It wasn’t until the 2013 NFL Draft that the Jets finally made some changes. They drafted two defensive players with their two first round picks, and selected quarterback Geno Smith in the second round. The Jets also acquired running back Chris Ivory from the New Orleans Saints. However, more criticism came after the draft. The Jets, who were 6-10 in 2012, 30th in total offense and last in turnovers, didn’t use the draft to help rebuild an offense that lacked playmaking ability.
Rex Ryan entered training camp with a quarterback battle at hand, knowing that whichever QB he chose would determine the fate of his job. After a bone-head decision to play Mark Sanchez (who was winning the quarterback battle) in the 4th quarter of the Jets’ third preseason game, Ryan’s decision was made for him. Sanchez was knocked out of the game and was forced to have surgery, making rookie Geno Smith the starter by default.
Once Geno Smith was named the starter, experts predicted the Jets to be the WORST team in the NFL and that Rex Ryan wouldn’t finish the season as the head coach. All signs pointed to Ryan being set up for failure with the roster that was assembled and that GM John Idzik wanted to bring in his own head coach in 2014.
What people forgot before throwing the Jets 2013 season in the gutter was that the Jets still had a core group of leaders on the roster that stood behind Ryan. The Jets got off to a 5-4 start beating Atlanta in Atlanta, the Patriots and the Saints despite numerous injuries to the offensive side of the ball.
Ryan’s defense was outstanding the beginning half of the year. Geno Smith was inconsistent, but made plays late in games that led to a couple come-from-behind wins for the Jets. After putting themselves in a good position to make the playoffs, the Jets fell apart after the bye week, losing three straight games. Smith and the Jets’ offense was pathetic in the 3-game losing streak. Smith had a single digit QBR in those 3 games and it looked as if Ryan was on his way out the door.
The last 4 games of the season signified the identity of the New York Jets. With the playoffs out of sight and their coach most likely to be fired, the Jets fought their tails off for Ryan, winning 3 of the last 4 games and saving Ryan’s job. The defense played the way it did in the beginning of the year and Smith finally showed signs of maturation and development. The Jets finished the season 8-8, something no one had predicted to start the year.
There is a lot of good things that the Jets organization and fans can take out of this season. With everyone doubting the Jets’ below average cast of offensive players, the Jets showed how tough they really are. They worked their tails off each week and fought each week for Ryan. They played great defense and the development of players like Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, Sheldon Richardson and Dee Milliner late in the year proves Ryan did a great job with his young defense.
Geno Smith played well for a rookie despite his inconsistent play. Yes, I know people compare the rookie seasons of players like Smith to those like Andrew Luck, RG3 and Russell Wilson, but Smith had a good year for a rookie. Smith did throw a lot of interceptions and made many mistakes, but look who he was throwing the ball to. The Jets receiving corps was plagued with injuries this season and they lack talent anyway. Santonio Holmes missed games 5 games, Stephen Hill missed 4 games, and Jeremy Kerley missed 4 games. Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow both missed time at tight end. Free agent signing David Nelson was second on the team in receptions with 36. Stephen Hill and Santonio Holmes had two touchdowns combined; defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson had two touchdowns himself! For people to expect Geno Smith to light up the stat sheet with the players he had around him is absurd.
For those who believe Ryan should have been fired, LOOK AT THAT ROSTER ON OFFENSE! AND THEY WON 8 GAMES?
Please. Ryan did a hell of a job and the Jets players did a hell of a job this year being 8-8 with the roster and injuries they had to deal with. The Jets didn’t make the playoffs but they had a successful season and are only a couple offensive players away from being a serious threat in the AFC.
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