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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.

YearTmRecordPFPAPtDifExp WinDiffCoachQB
1992IND8-7195285-904.153.85Ted MarchibrodaJeff George
2012IND10-5329371-426.373.63Chuck PaganoAndrew Luck
1995PHI10-5304318-147.072.93Ray RhodesRodney Peete
1989PIT8-7234304-705.12.9Chuck NollBubby Brister
1978ATL9-6219248-296.332.67Leeman BennettSteve Bartkowski
2009OAK5-10184358-1742.352.65Tom CableJaMarcus Russell
2011KAN6-9205335-1303.362.64Todd Haley2Matt Cassel
1989HOU9-6345388-436.392.61Jerry GlanvilleWarren Moon
2011DEN8-7306383-775.432.57John FoxTim Tebow
2013NYJ7-8270380-1104.452.55Rex RyanGeno Smith
2007BUF7-8243337-944.562.44Dick JauronTrent Edwards
1998OAK8-7264325-615.572.43Jon GrudenDonald Hollas
2005MIN8-7272334-625.592.41Mike TiceBrad Johnson
1994CHI9-6268294-266.632.37Dave WannstedtSteve Walsh
1985WAS9-6270296-266.632.37Joe GibbsJoe Theismann
1988NWE9-6240263-236.642.36Raymond BerryDoug Flutie
1993RAI9-6273296-236.742.26Art ShellJeff Hostetler
2006TEN8-7301360-595.832.17Jeff FisherVince Young
1978BAL5-10225400-1752.842.16Ted MarchibrodaBill Troup
1983BUF8-7269320-515.882.12Kay StephensonJoe Ferguson
2011OAK8-7333395-625.92.1Hue JacksonCarson Palmer
1992DEN8-7242287-455.912.09Dan ReevesJohn Elway
1999ARI6-9221333-1123.932.07Vince TobinJake Plummer
1998ARI8-7309365-565.942.06Vince TobinJake Plummer

The standard-bearers of overachieving excellence are Ted Marchibroda and Jeff George on the 1992 Colts.  In recent years, we have seen Hue Jackson and Tom Cable and Dick Jauron and Mike Tice overachieve relative to expectations.  If the reason to keep Ryan on board is because he has milked 7 wins out of this roster, the preceding sentence should provide the necessary cold water on that idea.

Here’s the less math-nerdy version. If not for a Lavonte David push in the opening game, a Nick Folk game-winner in Atlanta, and a favorable penalty call in overtime against New England, the Jets could be 4-11. Ryan wouldn’t have done any worse of a coaching job to get them to that point, either.

  1. Among teams in 16-game seasons []
  2. Romeo Crennel coached the final three games of the season. []
  • I think 4.45 pythag wins is about 2 more wins than I expected them to have this season. Expectations were REALLY low for the Jets. How much input does Ryan have in personnel? A lot of people thought Ryan would get fired after last season, but they kept him around. Did they do anything significant to upgrade the roster?

    How much of the teams’ 13-22 TD-Int differential is Ryan’s fault? How about the 65 passer rating?

    I don’t know if he’s really a good coach or not. He had some defensive talent and was able to ride that to some postseason wins. But he’s never really been given much in the way of offensive weapons. Could anybody succeed in that situation?

    I’m probably the only non-Jets fan that actually likes Rex Ryan. I’m not sure what would be accomplished by firing him.

    • Chase Stuart

      In the Football Outsiders Almanac, the Jets were projected to win 7.5 games this year. In Vegas, the Jets wins total over/under was 6.5 wins.

      I think “expectations” were low is really just a way of saying “the media hated the Jets.”

      • Richie

        The other thing is that it is tougher for the general public (me included) to imagine a team being good, when it is weak at the offensive skill positions.

  • Ajit

    Personally, I think the jets would be making an abominable decision to fire Rex Ryan. Rex Ryan is one of the few coaches that legitimately improves the quality of your roster, not just bloviates around with “ra ra” speeches(though he does that too).

    Since becoming the jets head coach, the jets have ranked 1st, 5th, 2nd, 9th, and 12th in defensive dvoa. They accomplished this despite not having an abundance of great players. Sure, they’ve had stints of great players, but rarely have those players matched each other’s prime years. For instance, they had revis, but he was gone by the time wilkerson became great. And when wilkerson and richardson emerged, the rest of the secondary became dreadful and the linebackers slow. And in none of those years has the team fielded a great edge rusher(something that feels like a requisite for stellar defense these days).

    Imagine what Rex Ryan could do if you gave him the talent of the 49ers or seahawks. Jets ownership and brass really need to be more circumspect and contextual when they judge ryan. His quarterbacks are awful-something even purported qb whisperers like Kubiak, Shanahan, and Reid haven’t managed to avoid. The fact that ryan has been this successful despite being ankle weighted by the qb position throughout his tenure with the team is really remarkable.

    • Chase Stuart

      The Jets have ranked 21st, 22nd, 25th, 29th, and 29th in Net Yards per Pass under Ryan. He may be improving the quality of the defense, but he’s doing nothing for the offense.

      • Ajit

        Is that something he’s primarily to blame though? His specialty is defense. I’m not really sure there are any coaches that have the proven ability to simultaneously help both – other than maybe BB. I think having a great qb helps you look better(hello John Fox). It’s a bit like the bears this year I think. Lucky they found a good offensive guy, but then wheels came off the defense. Suppose they had landed a so so offensive guy and then suffered the defensive lapse.

        Chase, are you really saying you want to move on from Rex?

        • Chase Stuart

          He’s the head coach. If a unit — especially the most important unit on the field — is struggling, it’s up to the head coach to fix it. This has been a problem for five years. He’s not the defensive coordinator, so it doesn’t matter what his speciality is. Ryan hired Tony Sparano. He retained Brian Schottenheimer. He hired Mornhinweg, who while I think has done a good job, has still produced disastrous results.


          • Ajit

            I’m sorry, this feels an awful lot like blaming the qb when a team loses. “Well, he’s the one throwing the football, he’s the one making decisions, he’s the one with the ball in his hand..” I mean, at the end of the day, we’re essentially blaming rex ryan because his team isn’t very good and holding him personally responsible for failing of the team. I suppose if we adhere to the strict job description, then he is responsible for everything that goes wrong. That said, looking at it more closely, I just don’t see why he should be held responsible for horrid cap mismanagement and failure at the qb position. Just like judging a qb by wins and losses is unfair, judging a coach by these standards is also unfair. John Fox isn’t any better of a coach now that he has peyton manning than he was with tim tebow. Ditto for Jim caldwell, who nearly went undefeated as a rookie head coach. Context matters and if you’re being consistent, you need to praise these two coaches for their efforts, no matter how much you think the success ultimately belongs to Manning.

      • Richie

        Has he been given any talent to help improve the offense?

        Here’s a list of each team’s career AV drafted in the first 3 rounds of the drafts from 2009-2012.
        Team AV
        NWE 203
        DEN 191
        DET 174
        CLE 165
        SEA 157
        CIN 156
        PIT 155
        SFO 154
        BUF 148
        HOU 139
        GNB 136
        MIN 135
        TAM 135
        MIA 128
        STL 124
        TEN 121
        ARI 119
        PHI 117
        JAX 116
        NYG 113
        OAK 112
        KAN 111
        ATL 110
        IND 110
        BAL 108
        SDG 99
        CAR 95
        WAS 94
        NOR 91
        NYJ 89
        DAL 84
        CHI 44

        Half of the Jets’ AV came from Shonn Greene and Mark Sanchez. Again, I have no idea how much responsibility Rex Ryan has for the Jets draft picks.

        • Chase Stuart

          The fact that every Jets first round pick is a defensive lineman or a cornerback should give you a hint 😉

          • Richie

            Do we know how much input the “typical” coach has in the draft room? I assume Shanahan has a lot of input. I would guess some of the younger first-time coaches don’t have much. Does the GM even ask them what they’d like?

            • Chase Stuart

              It varies from team to team. With the Jets, Ryan has had a lot of input because Tannenbaum leaned on him. Tannenbaum cut his teeth as a cap guy, and was willing to work closely with Rex on personnel decisions. It’s been less clear what’s happened under Idzik, but the team has always presented a unified front, and Rex was involved heavily in the pre-draft process.

              Someone like Shanahan or Fisher has a lot of power. Andy Reid used to have that, but he’s decided he’d rather not deal with that on top of everything else.

  • JWL

    I thought the Jets would be 3-13.

    Mike Tannenbaum ruined the team more than Ryan did. The team couldn’t compete this season due to Tannenbaum’s mismanagement.

    • Chase Stuart

      Tannenbaum and Ryan were tied at the hip, and jointly made nearly every major personnel decision.

  • JWL

    There is evidence they did not agree on every move. Hill and Tebow are two. I am sure Ryan said to resign Holmes, but I am also sure Ryan had little to no input on the size of the contract. Ditto the Sanchez extension.

    Tannenbaum and Ryan did closely work together, of course. Tannenbaum did major damage.

    I did not want Ryan hired in the first place. I correctly predicted he would top out at 10-6 or 11-5 and would be too defense-crazed even as a head coach.

    I wanted him fired after the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

    • Chase Stuart

      I’m not sure I agree about Tebow; honestly, we may never know exactly how either Ryan or Tannenbaum felt about him. But in the end, the Tebow signing was meaningless.

      Agree on Hill.

  • JWL

    I think Ryan should go bye-bye. It would have been easier to say this if the Jets went 3-13 as I expected. The team outperforming most people’s expectations
    made many of us think Ryan coached well this year.

    Three straight non-winning seasons and no development of QBs in five years is pretty damning stuff in this age.