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Will the Jets Fire Rex Ryan?

On Sunday morning, Jay Glazer reported that the Jets head coach told the team that he believes he will be fired after the season. And a few hours ago, I noted that while the Jets have a 7-8 record, that’s not an accurate reflection of the team’s production this year. So one week from today, will new general manager John Idzik decide to go in a different direction on Black Monday?

After making the AFC Championship Game in both 2009 and 2010, Rex Ryan’s Jets have now failed to make the playoffs in each of the last three years. From 1988 to 2012, 62 head coaches went three straight years without making the playoffs while coaching the same team. As it turns out, the head coach returned in 33 of those cases for the following season, but in each of the last five instances, ownership has chose to fire the head coach. That’s the situation Ryan and Mike Munchak are in, and Jason Garrett would join them in that boat with a loss to Philadelphia next Sunday, too.

On average, the teams that fired the head coach won 4.8 games in Year N, and then won 7.4 games in Year N+1. That includes the three new head coaches in 2013 in Buffalo, Arizona, and San Diego.

SDG2012Norv Turner7-9Mike McCoy7-7
BUF2012Chan Gailey6-10Doug Marrone6-9
ARI2012Ken Whisenhunt5-11Bruce Arians9-5
STL2011Steve Spagnuolo2-14Jeff Fisher7-8-1
TAM2011Raheem Morris4-12Greg Schiano7-9
DEN2008Mike Shanahan8-8Josh McDaniels8-8
DET2008Rod Marinelli0-16Jim Schwartz2-14
CLE2008Romeo Crennel4-12Eric Mangini5-11
ARI2006Dennis Green5-11Ken Whisenhunt8-8
NOR2005Jim Haslett3-13Sean Payton10-6
HOU2005Dom Capers2-14Gary Kubiak6-10
BUF2003Gregg Williams6-10Mike Mularkey9-7
ARI2003Dave McGinnis4-12Dennis Green6-10
JAX2002Tom Coughlin6-10Jack Del Rio5-11
DAL2002Dave Campo5-11Bill Parcells10-6
SDG2001Mike Riley5-11Marty Schottenheimer8-8
CAR2001George Seifert1-15John Fox7-9
NOR1999Mike Ditka3-13Jim Haslett10-6
SEA1998Dennis Erickson8-8Mike Holmgren9-7
CHI1998Dave Wannstedt4-12Dick Jauron6-10
BAL1998Ted Marchibroda6-10Brian Billick8-8
NYG1996Dan Reeves6-10Jim Fassel10-5-1
TAM1995Sam Wyche7-9Tony Dungy6-10
RAM1994Chuck Knox4-12Rich Brooks7-9
SEA1994Tom Flores6-10Dennis Erickson8-8
PHO1993Joe Bugel7-9Buddy Ryan8-8
SEA1991Chuck Knox7-9Tom Flores2-14
GNB1991Lindy Infante4-12Mike Holmgren9-7
SDG1991Dan Henning4-12Bobby Ross11-5

Of the 32 teams to retain the head coach, the average team won 6.9 games in Year N and then 7.3 in Year N+1. Those are full season results — the table below shows the number of wins by that specific coach in Year N+1.

Year N+1
JAX2010Jack Del Rio8-83-8-0 (0-0)
HOU2010Gary Kubiak6-1010-6-0 (1-1)
HOU2009Gary Kubiak9-76-10-0 (0-0)
CHI2009Lovie Smith7-911-5-0 (1-1)
HOU2008Gary Kubiak8-89-7-0 (0-0)
BUF2008Dick Jauron7-93-6-0 (0-0)
CIN2008Marvin Lewis4-11-110-6-0 (0-1)
CLE2007Romeo Crennel10-64-12-0 (0-0)
SFO2007Mike Nolan5-112-5-0 (0-0)
TEN2006Jeff Fisher8-810-6-0 (0-1)
NOR2004Jim Haslett8-83-13-0 (0-0)
HOU2004Dom Capers7-92-14-0 (0-0)
NOR2003Jim Haslett8-88-8-0 (0-0)
SEA2002Mike Holmgren7-910-6-0 (0-1)
ATL2001Dan Reeves7-99-6-1 (1-1)
PIT2000Bill Cowher9-713-3-0 (1-1)
CIN1999Bruce Coslet4-120-3-0 (0-0)
TEN1998Jeff Fisher8-813-3-0 (3-1)
WAS1998Norv Turner6-1010-6-0 (1-1)
TEN1997Jeff Fisher8-88-8-0 (0-0)
SEA1997Dennis Erickson8-88-8-0 (0-0)
WAS1997Norv Turner8-7-16-10-0 (0-0)
CHI1997Dave Wannstedt4-124-12-0 (0-0)
WAS1996Norv Turner9-78-7-1 (0-0)
NOR1995Jim Mora7-92-6-0 (0-0)
CIN1995David Shula7-91-6-0 (0-0)
IND1994Ted Marchibroda8-89-7-0 (2-1)
CIN1994David Shula3-137-9-0 (0-0)
TAM1994Sam Wyche6-107-9-0 (0-0)
CLE1993Bill Belichick7-911-5-0 (1-1)
PHO1992Joe Bugel4-127-9-0 (0-0)
GNB1990Lindy Infante6-104-12-0 (0-0)
IND1990Ron Meyer7-90-5-0 (0-0)

I’m a bit surprised that so many head coaches were retained after failing to make the playoffs for three straight years, but I think the recent trend shows that the NFL is more of  a “win now” league than ever before.

More to the point for Ryan, 2013 marks the third straight season the Jets have failed to post a winning record. From 2000 to 2012, only 18 head coaches posted three straight years with a non-winning record for the same team. Eleven of them were fired after year three, and two more (Dick Jauron and Mike Nolan) were fired in midseason in year four. Four other coaches were in the AFC South during the Peyton Manning era, and as I’ve noted before, owners appeared to give those coaches long leashes for failing to push ahead of those Colts teams.

The other coach in this group was Marvin Lewis: keeping him may have been the wise decision, but was probably more a reflection of the Bengals ownership than anything else.

Woody Johnson, of course, is not content with mediocrity… or being out of the spotlight. After the Jets failed to make the playoffs in 2007, the team released Chad Pennington and acquired Brett Favre. After the Jets failed to make the playoffs in 2008, head coach Eric Mangini got the axe. After the Jets failed to make the playoffs in 2011, Brian Schottenheimer was the scape goat. After the Jets failed to make the playoffs in 2012, Woody went up the corporate ladder and canned Mike Tannenbaum. With a first-year quarterback, a first-year offensive coordinator and a first-year general manager, there’s only one move left for Johnson to make.


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