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Woody Johnson, John Idzik, and Rex Ryan. Source: NY Daily News.

Moments after the Jets defeated the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, it was announced that Rex Ryan would return as New York’s head coach in 2014. That was a surprising development: just one week ago, it was reported that Ryan told the team he believed he would be fired at the end of the season. Most observers assumed that John Idzik, hired as the team’s general manager in January, would choose to bring in his own head coach in 2014. (You may recall that Woody Johnson mandated that Ryan be retained for the 2013 season, which already made it a slightly unusual situation.)

Which gets us to a the question I want to examine today: how often do new general managers stick with the coaches they inherit? A simple idea, but a difficult one to research. For some teams, identifying the man is charge is easy; for others, it’s about as easy as identifying the starting running back. I’ve done my best, but I expect some errors or disagreements with the labels I’ve used.1 Marching onward…..

Since 1995, excluding expansion teams, there have been 95 new general managers hired in the NFL. Slightly more than half of those GMs (50) hired new head coaches, served as joint general manager/head coach, or were brought in with a new coach together as part of a regime change. The table below shows the 50 new general managers, along with the coach prior to and immediately after the hiring of the executive.

Team
Year
GM
GM Title
Old Coach
New Coach
BUF2013Doug WhaleyGeneral ManagerChan GaileyDoug Marrone
CLE2013Michael LombardiGeneral ManagerPat ShurmurRob Chudzinski
ARI2013Steve KeimGeneral ManagerKen WhisenhuntBruce Arians
JAX2013David CaldwellGeneral ManagerMike MularkeyGus Bradley
KAN2013John DorseyGeneral ManagerRomeo CrennelAndy Reid
SDG2013Tom TelescoGeneral ManagerNorv TurnerMike McCoy
IND2012Ryan GrigsonGeneral ManagerJim CaldwellChuck Pagano
OAK2012Reggie McKenzieGeneral ManagerHue JacksonDennis Allen
STL2012Les SneadGeneral ManagerSteve SpagnuoloJeff Fisher
OAK2011Hue JacksonHead Coach/de facto General ManagerTom CableHue Jackson
SEA2010John SchneiderGeneral ManagerJim MoraPete Carroll
BUF2010Buddy NixExecutive VP/General ManagerDick JauronChan Gailey
WAS2010Bruce AllenExecutive VP/General ManagerJim ZornMike Shanahan
CLE2009George KokinisGeneral ManagerRomeo CrennelEric Mangini
DEN2009Brian XandersGeneral ManagerMike ShanahanJosh McDaniels
KAN2009Scott PioliGeneral ManagerHerman EdwardsTodd Haley
STL2009Billy DevaneyGeneral ManagerScott LinehanSteve Spagnuolo
TAM2009Mark DominikGeneral ManagerJon GrudenRaheem Morris
ATL2008Thomas DimitroffGeneral ManagerBobby PetrinoMike Smith
MIA2008Jeff IrelandGeneral ManagerCam CameronTony Sparano
BUF2006Marv LevyGeneral Manager/VP of Football OperationsMike MularkeyDick Jauron
HOU2006Rick SmithExecutive VP/General ManagerDom CapersGary Kubiak
MIN2006Rick SpielmanVP of Player Personnel/de facto General ManagerMike TiceBrad Childress
NYJ2006Mike TannenbaumGeneral ManagerHerman EdwardsEric Mangini
STL2006Jay ZygmuntPresident of Football Operations/General ManagerMike MartzScott Linehan
CLE2005Phil SavageGeneral ManagerButch DavisRomeo Crennel
MIA2005Randy MuellerGeneral ManagerDave WannstedtNick Saban
SFO2005Scot McCloughanVP of Player PersonnelDennis EricksonMike Nolan
ATL2004Rich McKayGeneral ManagerDan ReevesJim Mora
JAX2003James HarrisVP of Player PersonnelTom CoughlinJack Del Rio
CAR2002Marty HurneyGeneral ManagerGeorge SeifertJohn Fox
MIN2002Rob BrzezinskiVP of Football OperationsDennis GreenMike Tice
WAS2002Vinny CerratoDirector of Player PersonnelMarty SchottenheimerSteve Spurrier
BUF2001Tom DonahoePresident/General ManagerWade PhillipsGregg Williams
DET2001Matt MillenPresidentBobby RossMarty Mornhinweg
NYJ2001Terry BradwayGeneral ManagerAl GrohHerman Edwards
WAS2001Marty SchottenheimerHead Coach/de facto General ManagerNorv TurnerMarty Schottenheimer
NOR2000Randy MuellerGeneral ManagerMike DitkaJim Haslett
NWE2000Bill BelichickHead Coach/de facto General ManagerPete CarrollBill Belichick
STL2000Charley ArmeyGeneral ManagerDick VermeilMike Martz
CAR1999George SeifertHead Coach/de facto General ManagerDom CapersGeorge Seifert
SEA1999Mike HolmgrenHead Coach/Executive VP/General ManagerDennis EricksonMike Holmgren
ATL1997Dan ReevesHead Coach/de facto General ManagerJune JonesDan Reeves
NWE1997Bobby GrierDirector of Player PersonnelBill ParcellsPete Carroll
NYJ1997Bill ParcellsHead Coach/General ManagerRich KotiteBill Parcells
STL1997Dick VermeilHead Coach/General ManagerRich BrooksDick Vermeil
ARI1996Bob FergusonVP of Player PersonnelBuddy RyanVince Tobin
NYJ1995Rich KotiteHead Coach/de facto General ManagerPete CarrollRich Kotite
STL1995Steve OrtmayerGeneral ManagerChuck KnoxRich Brooks
SEA1995Randy MuellerVP of Football Operations/de facto General ManagerTom FloresDennis Erickson

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  1. Here’s an examples of the difficulty of classification: In March 2008, the Broncos fired general manager Ted Sundquist. He was quasi-replaced by Jim Goodman, although in reality Mike Shanahan had most of the power before and after Goodman’s promotion. It was owner Pat Bowlen who made the call to fire Shanahan after 2008, and Goodman a couple of months after that. In between the Shanahan and Goodman firings, Josh McDaniels was hired as head coach. After the Goodman firing, Brian Xanders was promoted to GM. There’s no clean way to do it, but I labeled Goodman as “retaining” Shanahan but Xanders as hiring a hew head coach, since he worked with Goodman on the McDaniels hire. []
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The Jets beat the Browns 24-13 today, bringing New York’s record up to 7-8. With Rex Ryan on the hot seat — more on this in a few hours — some have defended the controversial head coach by lauding his work this season. After all, if the Jets are one of the least talented teams in the NFL, isn’t it the product of great coaching that the Jets got to 7-8?

That would be true if the Jets were playing like a 7-8 team. But that’s not the case. The Jets have been outscored by 110 points this year, which makes them a bottom five team, a level of production more in line with the team’s talent. If Ryan is getting bottom five production out of a team that’s bottom five in talent, well, that’s not nearly as impressive.

But perhaps you want to argue that the Jets have overachieved in record (but not anywhere else) because of Ryan? Let’s investigate that claim. New York has just 4.45 Pythagorean wins, which means that they’ve won 2.55 more games than expected. The table below shows the 24 teams to exceed their Pythagorean record1 by at least two wins while posting a negative points differential. [click to continue…]

  1. Among teams in 16-game seasons []
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Checkdowns: Tale of a Tailspin Graphic (NYT)

I contributed to this New York Times graphic regarding the Jets struggles.

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Projecting the 2013 Jets

Let’s start with a picture showing just how ugly the Jets passing game has been over the last four years. The chart below displays where New York has ranked in Net Yards per Attempt, Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt, passer rating, Football Outsiders DVOA, and ANS’s Pass EPA/Play in each season starting in 2009. The black line shows an average of the team’s ranks in those five metrics. On the left, is the team’s rank from 1 to 32.

Jets passing

There are a few things that should be pretty obvious: all data points reside in the bottom half of the picture. New York ranked 18th in passer rating in 2011, its highest ranking in any of the five passing measures over the last four years. The Jets passing game was bad last year and looks to be bad this year, but we’re only talking about measures of degrees. The 11-5 Jets in 2010 ranked 20th in ANY/A and made it to the AFC Championship Game. In Mark Sanchez’s rookie year, the Jets ranked 27th in ANY/A and were leading the Colts at halftime of the AFCCG in Indianapolis.

One interpretation is that Sanchez was steadily improving, as he made gains in most metrics in both 2010 and 2011. I don’t think that’s the correct interpretation, however. Yes, the Jets ranked 18th in passer rating and in the top 20 other three other categories, but the real story is that New York only finished 25th in NY/A. The discrepancy between the statistics is the result of a fluke season with respect to passing touchdowns, which are ignored in NY/A but a part of passer rating, ANY/A, DVOA, and EPA. The Jets ranked 2nd in red zone scoring percentage in 2011, but ranked 17th (2009), 28th (2010), and 25th (2012) in that metric the other three years. Sanchez threw 14 touchdowns from inside the ten-yard line that year, more than double his performance in any other season. Some credited his red zone performance in 2011 to offensive guru Tom Moore’s tenure with the team that year, others believed it was due to the addition of Plaxico Burress, while still more thought it was a sign of Sanchez’ improvement as a passer. In retrospect, I think we can chalk most of that up red zone success up to good old fashioned luck and small sample size.
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Yesterday, I reviewed how the Jets defense performed in 2012 and previewed the team’s outlook for 2013. Today, the heavy lifting begins, by looking at the offense. If you didn’t feel bad for Tony Sparano before this post, I can guarantee you will by the end of it.

Quarterback

There is no point in ignoring the elephant in the room, so let’s just get it out of the way: Mark Sanchez is a below-average starting quarterback and not the answer for the Jets. After committing 26 turnovers in 2011, Sanchez laughed in the face of regression to the mean and matched that number on fewer plays in 2012. Sanchez also turned the ball over 23 times in his rookie season, leaving 2010 (14 turnovers) as his only season with fewer than 20 turnovers. To be fair, every hand that touched the 2012 Jets passing game deserved criticism, as Sanchez received almost no support from his teammates or coaches.

The past, not the future.

The past, not the future.

Still, the quarterback gets the credit and the blame, and there’s no escaping the fact that Sanchez ranked 30th in Net Yards per Attempt over the last two seasons, a disproportionate performance compared to his bloated salary.1 There are some creative things the Jets could do to lessen his salary cap hit in 2013, but that just delays the bill to 2014. Currently, Sanchez will count for $12.9M against the cap next season, and would count for $17.2M (yes, that means $4.3M of dead money) if released. While it’s not impossible that the Jets could trade him, I’m going to ignore that option for this post. The other problem? His cap hits are $13.1M and $15.6M in 2014 and 2015. You probably didn’t know that — heck you probably thought he was a free agent after 2013 — because it’s so far out of the realm of possibility that Sanchez would be on the team in 2014 that no one mentions it. But as a technical matter, Sanchez is signed through 2016 at superstar quarterback money, and the most likely scenario is the Jets cut him after 2014 (leaving $4.8M in dead money but still saving $8.3M on the cap).

The fact that his contract runs through 2016 is more important than you might think. Even under the best case possible, pigs flying 2013 scenarios, Sanchez still won’t be worth $29M in 2014 and 2015. Sanchez would have to turn in a season like Aaron Rodgers in 2013 to make the Jets want to keep him at his current contract (which, if he played at such a level, he’d have no incentive to restructure) after this season.
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  1. Among Jets fans, there is some argument that Sanchez used to be good but now is struggling; that’s not really the case. In 2010, the year the Jets went 11-5 and made it to the AFC Championship Game, Sanchez ranked 29th out of 32 quarterbacks in Net Yards per Attempt and 24th in ANY/A. Now he tied Matt Ryan for the NFL lead with 6 game-winning drives that season — no asterisk there, this actually happened — but that only served to obfuscate the fact that Sanchez struggled on a play-by-play basis. Sanchez actually peaked in NY/A rank as a rookie in 2009, finishing 21st, although he ranked 27th in ANY/A. []
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Outlook for the 2013 Jets: Part I (The defense)

Have you seen my new tattoo?

Have you seen my new tattoo?

In the preseason, I provided an in-depth preview of the 2012 New York Jets. By mid-season, I questioned the track records of Mike Tannenbaum, Rex Ryan, and Mark Sanchez and wondered whether or not they should (and would) be back in 2013. As we now know, after the season Tannenbaum was fired, Ryan was retained, and Sanchez remains on the roster in a salary cap-induced purgatory.

In this post, I’m going to review the Jets defense, analyze how they performed in 2012, and examine the outlook for 2013. Let’s start with one of the strengths of the team:

Defensive Line

I thought the defensive line would be very good in 2013, and they largely met expectations. Muhammad Wilkerson was the best 3-4 defensive end in the league outside of J.J. Watt, and Wilkerson looks to be a perennial Pro Bowler. At the other end spot, the Jets rotated first round pick Quinton Coples with incumbent Mike DeVito. Coples delivered as a pass rusher while DeVito was stout as usual against the run. And while DeVito is an unrestricted free agent and could follow Mike Pettine to Buffalo (although rumor is he wants to stay), Coples has the ability to develop into an every-down player as early as next year. The Jets don’t have anything behind Wilkerson and Coples, but depth can be addressed.
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Every hand in the Jets passing game is to blame

Not Don Coryell.

It’s a special edition of Saturday rant day at Football Perspective.

I’m no Mark Sanchez apologist. But that doesn’t mean he’s the only one to blame for the Jets’ passing game struggles.

The Supporting Cast

Jeremy Kerley, Dustin Keller, Chaz Schilens, Stephen Hill, and Jeff Cumberland are the team’s leading receivers. Clyde Gates has started two games at wide receiver. Kerley would be a great #3 receiver, but he’s the Jets #1. Schillens and Gates are best left as fifth receivers, while Stephen Hill is incredibly raw and has struggled most of the year. Keller would be a good tight end on a good passing offense, but is overmatched as the team’s #2 target. I don’t think anyone would disagree that the Jets’ receivers (including stone-hands Shonn Greene) rank in the bottom five of the league.

Mike Tannenbaum

Tannenbaum has come under heavy criticism from Jets fans of late. While I think much of that is probably unfair, there are several areas to point the finger at Tannenbaum — starting with drafting Sanchez in the first place. The Jets general manager listens to eternal optimist Ryan too much when it comes to personnel decisions, which led the Jets to start Wayne Hunter at right tackle last year and enter the pre-season with him, somehow, still entrenched at the spot. The Vlad Ducasse pick has been a bust, leaving Matt Slauson to cover at left guard (you know, when he’s not being rotated out of the game). Trades for Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes yielded immediate dividends, but have only added to the disruption in the locker room without helping the 2012 version of the team. Sanchez is playing with one of the worst supporting casts in the league, so the man who picks the talent certainly bears some of the blame.

Rex Ryan

There are very few head coaches who are excellent on both sides of the ball, but Rex Ryan is one of the most specialized head coaches in the NFL. He’s a defensive mastermind — no doubt about that — but he’s as helpless on offense as he is strong on defense. He vowed this year to get more involved in the offense, which should start sending red flags to begin with since 2012 is his fourth season as head coach of the team. To the extent that he has been more hands on in 2012, the results aren’t any better.

Perhaps Ryan is the mirror image of a Gary Kubiak, who took awhile to find the right man to run the other half of his team. But from the standpoint of developing a quarterback, Ryan may even be counterproductive. The red light-yellow light-green light system he gave Sanchez in his rookie season was Ryan’s first attempt to right the ship and a sign of what the coach expects out of the quarterback position. The bottom line is Ryan is focused on playing good defense and running the ball, and as long as his quarterback doesn’t mess up, he thinks his team will win. That’s not the ideal environment for a young quarterback to blossom in, and we learned exactly what Rex thinks about his quarterback when this off-season he chose to hire as his offensive coordinator…

Tony Sparano (hat tip, Brian Schottenheimer)
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Game Scripts, Part II: Analyzing team seasons

Yesterday, I rolled out Game Scripts, a way to measure the flow of every game since 1940. The sum of each team’s Game Script in each game can be used to give us an average Game Script score on the season. You might think that this number would be a good proxy for how dominant a team was, and that’s largely true: the teams with the highest game script scores tend to have been the most dominant teams. However, there are some reasons to be cautious with this approach: game scripts are not adjusted for strength of schedule and in any given game, the losing team can end up with a better score than the winning team. That said, here are the teams with the highest Game Scripts since 1940:

Rk
Year
Team
League
W-L-T
PF
PA
SCRIPT
11942CHINFL11-0-03768413.5
21948CHINFL10-2-037515111.3
31941CHINFL10-1-039614710.4
41948SFOAAFC12-2-049524810.4
52007NWENFL16-0-058927410.3
61968BALNFL13-1-040214410.1
71948PHINFL9-2-137615610.1
81947CLEAAFC12-1-141018510
91946CLEAAFC12-2-042313710
101949PHINFL11-1-03641349.5
111969MINNFL12-2-03791339.4
121954CLENFL9-3-03361629.2
131999STLNFL13-3-05262429.1
141973MIANFL12-2-03431509.1
152001STLNFL14-2-05032738.9
161961HOUAFL10-3-15132428.8
171951CLENFL11-1-03311528.8
181972MIANFL14-0-03851718.7
191998MINNFL15-1-05562968.6
201973RAMNFL12-2-03881788.5
211983WASNFL14-2-05413328.4
221984SFONFL15-1-04752278.4
231948CLEAAFC14-0-03891908.3
241949SFOAAFC9-3-04162278.2
251998DENNFL14-2-05013098.1
261968DALNFL12-2-04311868
271966KANAFL11-2-14482767.9
281995SFONFL11-5-04572587.7
291962GNBNFL13-1-04151487.7
301953CLENFL11-1-03481627.6
311971DALNFL11-3-04062227.6
321944PHINFL7-1-22671317.6
331948CRDNFL11-1-03952267.6
341960CLENFL8-3-13622177.5
351980RAMNFL11-5-04242897.4
362010NWENFL14-2-05183137.4
372011GNBNFL15-1-05603597.4
381976BALNFL11-3-04172467.4
391975MINNFL12-2-03771807.3
401975PITNFL12-2-03731627.3
411992DALNFL13-3-04092437.3
421969KANAFL11-3-03591777.3
431964BALNFL12-2-04282257.2
441997DENNFL12-4-04722877.2
451968OAKAFL12-2-04532337.2
461945RAMNFL9-1-02441367
471943CHINFL8-1-13031577
481967OAKAFL13-1-04682337
491963NYGNFL11-3-04482807
501994SFONFL13-3-05052966.9

The teams with the highest game scripts last year? Green Bay (7.4), New Orleans (5.6) and Houston (5.4), while the Rams (-6.4), Colts (-7.2), and Bucs (-8.7) were at the bottom of the league. But let’s get to the real point of using Game Scripts — to help put passing and rushing ratios in context.

Last year, the Buccaneers had the second highest effective pass/run ratio in the league (defined as total pass attempts divided by rushes plus total pass attempts, but with all kneels and spikes excluded). But that’s misleading, because Tampa Bay had the worst Game Script in the league. Conversely, were Houston and San Francisco really the second and third most run-heavy teams in the NFL last year? The table below lists each team from highest to lowest pass/run ratio:
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NYT Fifth Down: Post-week 8

My post for the New York Times this week takes a look at the triumvirate of Mike Tannenbaum, Rex Ryan, and Mark Sanchez.

Rex Ryan was hired by Mike Tannenbaum on Jan. 19, 2009. Three months later, they traded up in the 2009 N.F.L. draft to acquire Mark Sanchez. Since that moment, the three of them — the general manager, the head coach and the franchise quarterback — have had their fates intertwined. When the Jets made the A.F.C. championship game in their first season together, they far exceeded expectations, reaching that level far sooner than expected.

In the following off-season, Tannenbaum became the toast of the N.F.L. as he acquired four veterans – Santonio Holmes, LaDainian Tomlinson, Jason Taylor, and Antonio Cromartie — to help put the Jets over the proverbial hump. In August, it was Ryan’s turn to steal the spotlight, as he became a national sensation and the coach everyone wanted to play for following his appearance on HBO’s “Hard Knocks.” During the season, it was Sanchez’s time to shine, as he led the Jets on game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in six different games, the highest number in the league. The Jets won 11 games and went back to the A.F.C. championship game, but again, were stuck at the Super Bowl’s doorstep.

That was the high-water mark of the Tannenbaum-Ryan-Sanchez era. The Jets regressed to 8-8 last season and with a 3-5 record in 2012, appear to be continuing in a downward spiral. With Tannenbaum, Ryan, and Sanchez forever linked, the question the Jets will have to answer at the end of the season is whether all — or any — of them are the right men to take the Jets back to the Super Bowl.

The Quarterback

Statistically, Sanchez has been a disappointment his entire career with the Jets. On the field, he has struggled with reading defenses and throwing accurate passes, and as a result, he is ranked below the league average in completion percentage and yards per attempt in each of his four seasons in the N.F.L. Only 18 quarterbacks in N.F.L. history have ranked below league average in those categories while playing for the same team in three consecutive years. Perhaps surprisingly, all but three — Joe Ferguson, Mark Malone, and an aging Marc Bulger — returned to the same team for a fourth season.

Of the remaining 15, one was Phil Simms, who tore his knee in the 1982 preseason, ending his streak of mediocre play. It wasn’t until he turned 30 that Simms had his first statistically solid season in 1985. David Woodley returned to Miami but lost his job to Dan Marino. Kyle Boller went back to Baltimore, but Steve McNair was acquired to replace him. Sanchez and Matt Cassel each received a fourth year in 2012 to prove themselves.

That leaves 10 quarterbacks who had three straight years of below average play in both yards per attempt and completion percentage, and were brought back by their team and remained as starters. Five quarterbacks — Donovan McNabb, Tobin Rote, Jim Hart, John Elway, and Drew Bledsoe — responded with above-average seasons in their fourth year in at least one of the two categories.

The other five? All again finished below average in the two categories for a fourth straight season. Mike Phipps in Cleveland, Rick Mirer in Seattle, Trent Dilfer in Tampa Bay and Joey Harrington in Detroit were the first four; the fifth was Eli Manning. I excluded Manning’s rookie season because he did not have enough pass attempts to qualify, but technically, he finished below average in both completion percentage and yards per attempt in each of the first five seasons of his career.

Sanchez currently ranks 33rd in completion percentage and 31st in yards per attempt, so absent Peyton Manning wearing his jersey for the rest of the year, Sanchez is going to finish below average for the fourth straight season in both categories. In Kansas City, Matt Cassel may match his streak, although his days with the Chiefs are numbered.

Can the Jets justify starting Sanchez in Year 5? If previous examples are considered, it’s doubtful. Mike Phipps, like Sanchez, was a top-five pick a franchise gambled on. In fact, Cleveland traded the future Hall of Fame wide receiver Paul Warfield to Miami to acquire Phipps, so the Browns were very hesitant to admit their mistake. In his fifth year, Phipps entered the season as the starter but an injury in the season opener against the Jets allowed Brian Sipe to take the job. Mirer was also a top-five pick, but after his fourth year, the Seahawks traded him to the Bears. Somehow, they were able to package him with a fourth-round pick for Chicago’s first-round selection. Tampa Bay, a team that was able to win despite its poor quarterback play because of a great defense, kept Dilfer as the starter in his fifth year, although an injury paved the way for the team to move on. Detroit traded Harrington after his fourth season to Miami for a late round pick. And while Manning’s individual statistics were not impressive, he had already won a Super Bowl with the Giants, ending any questions about his job security.

If the Jets go into the 2013 season with Sanchez as the starter, they will essentially be giving him as long a leash as any quarterback in N.F.L. history has ever had. There are obviously other considerations with Sanchez. He will cost the Jets salary cap over $17 million if they release him before the start of the 2014 season. As it stands, the Jets will pay him nearly $13 million in 2013. But it’s the extreme exception to the rule for a quarterback to have four consecutive years of mediocre play be given the starting job in his fifth year on a silver platter. When a highly drafted quarterback struggles so consistently and fails to develop, there are usually severe ramifications. And they extend far beyond the quarterback.

For a look at the coach and the general manager, you can read the full article here.

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[Note: I'm scheduled to appear on The Bobby Curran Show on ESPN 1420 at just after 2:00 today. If you're interested, you can listen here.]

Not Dick LeBeau.

Rex Ryan is the Tim Tebow of coaches: whatever he says tends to get magnified. I was sitting a few feet from Ryan when he made his latest controversial comment. Keyshawn Johnson asked Ryan if having a former head coach in Tony Sparano now coaching the offense would allow him to focus more on the defense. Ryan said it would, although Ryan previously vowed to also be more involved with the offense. The next question asked about Ryan’s confidence, and he said he had a lot of confidence in himself and his coaching staff. He went on:

Now, I wasn’t even in the defensive meeting last night, but I have complete faith and trust in the coaches we have. As I said, it’s easy for me to say I’m the best defensive coach in football. Now that’s saying something, because Dick LeBeau’s pretty (darn) good, Bill Belichick is pretty good. But that’s the way I’ve always believed. And you know what, I believe it because of the guys I coach with, there’s no doubt about that, and the guys that I’ve coached. That’s the truth, and that’s how I feel. I’m going to be more involved over there, calling games or whatever. Obviously, Mike Pettine, that’s my right hand guy, he’s always been my right hand guy and that’s the way it’s always going to be.

Not that inflammatory, is it? In any event, Ryan also issued a call to the media on Saturday, and if you’ve ever read this blog, you know he got my attention with what he said:

I’m still waiting to see somebody put the stats up there, because I know I’m crazy, but go ahead and just put them out there one day, since I’ve been a coordinator and head coach, I dunno where I’d rank…I really don’t even know the answer…Now watch Dick LeBeau get me.

Well, Rex, I’ll put the stats out there for you. Presumably we want to compare Ryan to all current head coaches (with defensive backgrounds) and defensive coordinators in the league. There are only 25 defensive coordinators to examine, as sevens teams do not have coordinators with any relevant track record. Both Missouri teams are actually without defensive coordinators this year: In Kansas City, Romeo Crennel will be head coach and defensive coordinator, while in St. Louis, the Rams are going with a committee approach to replace the suspended Gregg Williams. In addition, five men will be first-time defensive coordinators in 2012: Matt Patricia in New England, Kevin Coyle in Miami, Alan Williams in Minnesota, Jason Tarver in Oakland and John Pagano in San Diego.
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I spent the weekend in Cortland, New York covering Jets training camp. So what should we expect from the Jets this year? As the team enters its fourth season under Rex Ryan, it’s impossible to look at the 2012 season without putting it in the context of the Ryan’s other Jets teams. And while the Sanchez/Tebow stories will dominate the media’s attention, in reality, the defense and the running game will be the key elements of the 2012 Jets.

Defense

The table below lists the 15 major contributors for the Jets for each year since 2009. Ryan’s defenses are some of the most exotic in the league, and the Jets often have placed six or seven defensive backs on the field at one time. In addition to nickel corner and the third safety, I’m including a fourth defensive lineman slot and a “Designated Pass Rusher” position, a third down specialist and staple of the Ryan defense.

Pos
2009
2010
2011
2012
DEShaun Ellis (32)Shaun Ellis (33)Muhammad Wilkerson (22)Muhammad Wilkerson (23)
NTSione Pouha (30)Sione Pouha (31)Sione Pouha (32)Sione Pouha (33)
DEMarques Douglas (32)Mike DeVito (26)Mike DeVito (27)Mike DeVito (28)
4DLMike DeVito (25)Vernon Gholston (24)Marcus Dixon (27)Quinton Coples (22)
OLBBryan Thomas (30)Bryan Thomas (31)Jamaal Westerman (26)Bryan Thomas (33)
ILBBart Scott (29)Bart Scott (30)Bart Scott (31)Bart Scott (32)
ILBDavid Harris (25)David Harris (26)David Harris (27)David Harris (28)
OLBCalvin Pace (29)Calvin Pace (30)Calvin Pace (31)Calvin Pace (32)
DPRVernon Gholston (23)Jason Taylor (36)Aaron Maybin (23)Aaron Maybin (24)
CB1Darrelle Revis (24)Darrelle Revis (25)Darrelle Revis (26)Darrelle Revis (27)
CB2Lito Sheppard (28)Antonio Cromartie (26)Antonio Cromartie (27)Antonio Cromartie (28)
CB3Dwight Lowery (23)Drew Coleman (27)Kyle Wilson (24)Kyle Wilson (25)
S1Jim Leonhard (27)Jim Leonhard (28)Jim Leonhard (29)Yeremiah Bell (34)
S2Kerry Rhodes (27)Brodney Pool (26)Eric Smith (28)Laron Landry (28)
S3Eric Smith (26)Eric Smith (27)Brodney Pool (27)Eric Smith (29)

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