This will never, ever be a realistic request, especially in mid-March during the NFL’s free agency money tossing season. But we should all try to hold back on our contract reactions — or at least our most venomous reactions — until details have trickled out. I’m beginning to turn a shade of blue while repeating this, but all that ever matters is the guaranteed portion of a contract.
That thinking applies for head coaches too. And it applies to Rex Ryan.
Thursday around noon reports began to surface, and they relayed news that was either greeted with joy or hatred, and nothing in between: Rex Ryan had been handed a contract extension. No one should have been remotely surprised by that development, because after the Jets’ front office committed to Ryan following the end of this season, a contract extension of some kind was forthcoming.
Ryan was set to enter the final year of his current deal, popularly known as the “lame duck” year. Allowing a head coach to enter that season and be a pending coach free agent is a poor front office practice because it shows little confidence in the current direction, and the coach could be motivated to conduct himself differently in an effort to improve his job prospects next January.
No, the extension itself wasn’t at all a surprise, and instead it was a matter of exactly how long the extension was set to be. Then this came down, and it throughly ruffled every feather of those who despise Ryan…
Rex Ryan had 1 year left on deal. His agreed-to extension is for multi years. That ties Ryan to Jets for at least 3 more years, maybe more.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 16, 2014
That meant Ryan had two years added on to his current contract, and for some, being committed for three years to a head coach who just finished the season with an 8-8 record was a little rich. Thing is, in truth the Jets aren’t at all committed for that long.
Nope, reports later indicated that Ryan had his lame duck status pushed ahead by just one year, and the two added years creates the public perception of a longer commitment. The more serious implication is that he’s still coaching for his job in 2014, and nothing has changed.
As Brian Costello of the New York Post noted, the new guaranteed money in Ryan’s contract expires at the end of 2015. So in theory (and quite possibly in reality), the Jets can fire Ryan a year from now, and then only owe him for one more season. Paying a coach to not coach is less than ideal, but it’s a pretty common practice (Lovie Smith spent this past season just chillin’ on beaches and making bank from the Bears, and Rob Chudzinski will rake in from the Browns this year).
Another common practice is head coach scapegoating, and I’m not sure how much burden Ryan bears for what happened with the Jets in 2013. In fact, what happened was one of the most successful 8-8 seasons in recent memory.
By definition, the Jets were average. Perfectly average, and yet still for a time late in the season they were in playoff contention, even with Geno Smith being horribly brutal, even with Santonio Holmes — their only sort of reliable receiver — missing five games, and even without a consistent rushing attack until Chris Ivory showed up late in the year.
The Jets had the league’s 25th ranked offense, and they averaged only 18.1 points per game (29th). Yet they remained in games because their defense, Ryan’s area of expertise, was solid. Despite consistently being put in horrible situations by Smith, a Jets defense rooted in pressure (Calvin Pace and Muhammand Wilkerson combined for 20.5 of their 41 sacks) allowed 334.9 yards per game (11th).
That alone earned Ryan another chance and more confidence from his superiors. He now has the former, and he’s waiting on the latter.
More notes, reading, stray thoughts, and other such randomness
This is either glorious or the worst thing ever
I’ll go with glorious, because Jim Caldwell is very Belichickian in the sense that with the exception of roughly seven times every season, it takes some clip art Photoshopping if you want him to show any emotion whatsoever.
— Detroit Lions (@DetroitLionsNFL) January 16, 2014
Brady has dominated Jack Del Rio
The deep and murky NFL section of the Internet has been littered with various Manning-Brady and Brady-Manning writing this week, and indeed later on this morning that very subject will overtake this space too. Looking back on the history of meetings between two future hall of famers and two of the most dominant quarterbacks of our time is, at the very least, an interesting little journey.
But here’s an obvious fact about quarterback vs. quarterback comparisons that’s often overlooked: quarterbacks don’t actually face each other. Crazy, I know.
They do in the sense that if the other guy leads a long drive which ends in a touchdown, well, you have to respond. But they don’t in the much larger sense that their primary opponent is the 11 defenders who are trying to stop said long drive.
That’s why despite how much joy we’ve experienced this week with this whole Brady-Manning deal, Brady’s record against a Jack Del Rio defense (one that he’s involved in either as a coordinator or head coach) is far more important. What’s that record? 7-0, while completing 73 percent of his passes.
“OMAHA! OMAHA! OMAHA!” is big business, man
We’re now halfway through the first month of 2014, which means that by law, everything in our civilized world has be turned into a business venture of some kind. Anything you desire can be yours for a small fee, and right now the people of Denver want “OMAHA! OMAHA! OMAHA!” shirts, dammit.
While moving the Broncos closer to the Super Bowl, Manning is also moving some serious fan apparel after saying his famous audible in many different cadences 44 times last week. As the Denver Post kindly tells us, those who design wacky and crazy shirts in Denver can’t keep up with the “Omaha” demands, and in Omaha itself several major businesses are jumping on the opportunity for some national publicity, but while doing it they’ll be contributing to a good cause.
Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce president David Brown announced Thursday that six companies — ConAgra Foods, First National Bank of Omaha, Mutual of Omaha, Omaha Steaks, Union Pacific Railroad and DJ’s Dugout — have chipped in to donate $600 to Manning’s PeyBack Foundation every time he shouts “Omaha” during the game on Sunday.
If Manning keeps up the pace set during last week’s game, that’s more than $26,000 to the charity.
“We’re pulling for a lot of Manning snaps on Sunday, a lot of ‘Omahas,’ ” Brown said, “and a lot of money for the kids helped by his foundation.”
If the Broncos win Sunday a Nebraska city will be the subject of easily the most popular Super Bowl prop bet (O/U “Omaha” utterances). As Manning explained earlier this week, “Omaha” means pretty much whatever the hell he wants it to mean.
We miss you already, Steve Smith
This past Sunday during the Panthers’ loss to San Francisco, Steve Smith was effective for about one quarter before being severely limited by his knee injury. But in that short time he logged 74 receiving yards with a touchdown that came on a 31 yard bomb, and after that his presence was sorely missed as Carolina tried to mount a second-half comeback.
The NFL is a better place when Steve Smith is entertaining us every week, and now that the football winter is coming, we don’t get to see him again until next fall. As Will Brinson noted and recorded yesterday, Smith is a smack artist…
Signing Tebow was a mistake
Finally former Jets general manager Mike Tannebaum admitted that yesterday, calling the deal he made which sent fourth- and sixth-round picks to Denver for Tim Tebow an obvious misstep.
In fairness to Tannebaum, there was an opportunity to use Tebow’s very specific skillset in very specific situations and be successful doing it. And indeed, for a brief period early on that happened. But the problem is that Tannebaum envisioned Tebow working the same running magic we saw in Denver for a team with a defensive-minded head coach, and at the time an offensive coordinator (Tony Sparano) who we now know was either completely incompetent, or complete unwilling when it came to the task of working his new backup quarterback into special packages with any sort of consistency.
But in even more fairness to Sparano and Rex Ryan, Tebow really, really sucks.