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Sad reality: Six years into Rex Ryan era, Jets don't have a QB or a clue


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Sad reality: Six years ago, Jets didn't have a QB or a clue and Six years into Rex Ryan era, Jets don't have a QB or a clue





FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Advice to Rex Ryan: Don't mention the New England Patriots when trying to defend your own strategy. It's akin to "Best Personality" putting himself in the class-valedictorian conversation with "Most Likely to Succeed." 

The New York Jets' coach got defensive Wednesday when asked about his unusual game plan Monday night -- you know, the one with all the running plays -- insisting, "I don't feel like apologizing for running for 300 yards (actually 277)." In an attempt to bolster his argument, Ryan mentioned the recent game in which the Patriots ran 44 times for 246 yards against theIndianapolis Colts

"I remember everybody was praising New England running it how many times they ran it the other week, and you've got a first-ballot, Hall-of-Fame quarterback in Tom Brady," Ryan said. 

Then came the sarcasm. 

"They're a genius, we're not quite there," he said. 

Here's the difference: The Patriots won the game. By 22 points. 

The Jets blew a lead and lost to the Miami Dolphins, 16-13. 

Two days later, we're still talking about the play calling -- hard to believe, considering it's a 2-10 team. But this isn't about one game. This is about the organization's belief in Geno Smith (or lack thereof) and Ryan's fatal flaw, one of the reasons he will be unemployed in a few weeks: His blind spot for offense. 

In six seasons as the head coach, Ryan has failed with two quarterbacks and three offensive coordinators. Under him, the Jets haven't drafted and developed any offensive stars. Obviously, the blame doesn't fall entirely on Ryan, but he coaches and sees the game through a defensive lens -- and it impacts in-game strategy. You saw it Monday night, with one of the most bizarre games in recent memory. ESPN analyst Jon Gruden said on the telecast the run-pass imbalance was something you'd see in monsoon-like conditions. 

Ryan's run-heavy strategy was founded on his belief that it gave them the best chance to beat the Dolphins. It's funny, because he has no problem saying that about the game plan, yet he can't bring himself to say Smith is the quarterback that gives them the best chance. Translation: I don't trust him. He vehemently denied that, insisting, "It had nothing to do with us not having confidence in Geno Smith. That's completely false." 

Smith is a turnover-prone liability whose days as the Jets' starting quarterback will end in four weeks, but playing on a defensive-centric team hasn't helped his development. Look at Mark Sanchez. He's in a quarterback-friendly system with the Philadelphia Eagles, thriving in his second incarnation. 

This is the sixth year of the Ryan regime, and really nothing has changed. He's still coaching around his quarterback, employing a play-not-to-lose mentality on offense. What next, a color-coded wristband for Smith? 

On Monday night, Smith's game plan was Quarterbacking 101. The most glaring instance came late in the third quarter, after Darrin Walls' interception at the Miami 30-yard line. Instead of going for the end zone on the first play, like some teams do after a sudden change, the Jets ran the ball into a nine-man box. They gained 2 yards. 

On second down, they ran into a eight-man box. Loss of 2. On third down, Smith took an 8-yard sack, holding the ball too long and failing to see a wide-open Jeremy Kerley. Instead of extending a seven-point lead, the Jets were forced to punt. 

"If you look at the D-Walls pick, that's a crucial moment, a chance for us to put our foot on their throats," guard Willie Colon said. "We weren't able to capitalize and it came back to hurt us." 

Ryan refused to second-guess his run-oriented approach, saying there wouldn't be any fuss if they had just made a couple of plays to win the game. He's right about one thing: The conservative approach -- a mere 13 forward passes -- gave them the best chance to win. 

And that's sad.
Rich Cimini ESPN New York Jets reporter


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