N.Y. Jets coach Rex Ryan needs to be fired.
No really, fired. This is not reaction trolling. I'd actually really fire him before Week 1 if I were Jets general manager John Idzik.
Playing veteran quarterback Mark Sanchez in Saturday's fourth quarter, behind a second-string offensive line, after their only other viable option, Geno Smith, had absolutely proven himself not ready for NFL action feels fireable. But for a coach with a football HR file as big as Rex's and a coach who barely avoided getting axed this offseason, this feels last straw-ish.
Because what happened Saturday at MetLife Stadium speaks to a bigger issue at play for the Jets this season: Their coach and team have divergent interests. Rex has to win now to stay employed and, in lieu of that, which seems an unlikely scenario judging by everything we have seen so far, Rex at least needs an alibi. He needs to be able to say, "How was I supposed to win with Geno Smith?"
What the Jets need is to start determining if winning with Smith is likely. Saturday's results -- three interceptions and an inexplicable decision to step out of the end zone -- suggest patience is necessary.
Only that may not be an option, not if Sanchez is seriously hurt.
He is having an MRI on his shoulder this morning. And whatever the results, what Rex did goes down as one of the dumbest coaching moves in NFL history. There is no good reason for Sanchez to be playing Saturday, and Rex did not bother coming up with any during an epic -- even by New York standards -- press conference. Instead Rex invoked his constitutional right to free speech, turned to deliver his non-answer sideways during an especially combative exchange and just generally did nothing to dispel the idea that he is fraying under the pressure of being a mostly fired coach.
This cannot abide, and keeping Rex around for this season may set the Jets back years. Plural. I say this despite mostly liking Rex. I like his moxy, his style even if I believe his bravado had long since outpaced his team's ability. Listening to Rex defiantly fight at the NFL owners meetings in Arizona, I thought he might be able to use his limbo to rouse his team.
He has not. He has made them vulnerable.
There is no worse combo in sports than a coach with nothing to lose leading a team with everything to lose. Even if Sanchez had not gotten hurt, even if the injury does not turn out to be that serious, the decision making by Rex was so flawed that you have to question the motives behind it.
Smith had been so abhorrently bad, which was kind of to be expected, if we are being fair. There is a reason he fell to the second round in April's NFL draft, and it was not because teams thought he'd be ready to go in Week 1. What was best for Geno, as well as the Jets, was for him to hold a clipboard for a year, learn and get a fair shot at winning the job a year from now.
Why he was competing for the job Saturday speaks to how poorly Sanchez had been playing this preseason. And then they got a fortuitous bounce with Geno's flailing performance. All New York had to do was bring in Matt Simms, have this third-string spare finish out the game like what was happening in every other NFL city and afterward announce that Sanchez was the starter.
It was perfect for everybody, and that Rex somehow screwed this up is a fireable offense. He has somehow done the impossible. He has made an already screwed-up Jets quarterbacking situation even worse.
This is fireable. And since everybody believes it is going down anyway, the only play is to put everybody out of their misery and give the Jets a chance to have a chance in 2014.