Rex aims to go out on a winning note

( - As it turns out, Rex Ryan needn't hire a realtor in South Beach.

Though Ryan's six-year run as head coach of the New York Jets will presumably come to an end after a Week 17 visit to the Miami, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has already eliminated one destination from the embattled Gang Green leader's subsequent offseason interviewing tour.

Ross confirmed after Miami's 37-35 defeat of Minnesota last week that Joe Philbin will return for a fourth season along the sidelines in 2015.

"It's important for a head coach of a NFL football team that the owner believes in him, what he is doing and the program he is instilling," Philbin said. "It's very important. If you don't have that type of belief and faith from the owner it's not going to work. I know if players don't believe in their coaches and coaches don't believe in their players, you have no chance. But again, I've been in this profession a long time, I wasn't worried about my own personal future."

Philbin improved from 7-9 to 8-8 in his first two seasons with the Dolphins, and can get to 9-7 with a victory in the finale against the Jets, though any hopes for the franchise's first playoff berth since 2008 were erased last week when Pittsburgh beat Kansas City.

Miami is near New York in terms of defensive statistics - allowing 22.4 points and 333.3 yards per week through 15 games - and defeated the Jets, 16-13, in the teams' first 2014 matchup in Week 13.

New York allows an average of 323.2 yards and 25.1 points per week.

Philbin's holdover to next season was also welcomed on the offensive side, where quarterback Ryan Tannehill has posted solid numbers in 2014, including a 67 percent completion rate, a per-game average of 252.4 yards, 26 touchdowns and a 93.2 passer rating.

In the win against Minnesota, Tannehill had 35 completions, 396 yards and four touchdowns.

"That's exciting news for me, and I think everyone on the team," Tannehill said. "We believe in coach Philbin and the program he has and everything he has set in place."

The sky seemed the limit for Ryan after he arrived in 2009 and immediately steered the Jets to consecutive appearances in the AFC Championship Game for the first time in franchise history.

New York dropped to 8-8 amid turmoil in year three, however, and has failed to exceed .500 in three more seasons under his leadership.

"These last couple seasons have been pretty tough, there's no doubt," he said. "So, I'd say this one's probably a 'dog-year' season. We've only got three wins. At the same time, it feels like yesterday. So it's like, man, I'm still here with my guys and I enjoy coming to work. Like, every day I'm excited about presenting a game plan and doing different things and watching players grow. So that part of it has been great."

His job security hasn't been helped by shortcomings at quarterback, where the tandem of youngster Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick have provided the league's lowest per-game passing average of 170.4 yards. Smith began the season as the starter before losing the role to Vick in November.

He's returned to start the last four games, but his season-long passer rating (70.9) is ahead of just two full-time quarterbacks - Jacksonville's Blake Bortles (70.8) and Tampa Bay's Josh McCown (70.5).

Smith managed just 65 yards passing in the Dec. 1 loss to the Dolphins.

"The toughest part about it is not being able to continue to play for the same coach, the same guy that you learned to love, you invest so much in, and you believe (in) them," Smith said. "To reset and re-adjust is a tough thing to do, but we are professionals and we have to do it. A change could be good for us all, so if it happens, when it happens, then we'll see."


Win the Rematch

Miami right guard Mike Pouncey has struggled with injuries and a new position during a largely ineffectual 2014 season, and has surrendered three sacks and 24 quarterback hurries on the year. But he held his own against New York's Sheldon Richardson - allowing just two hurries - in Week 13, and could go a long way toward prolonging Week 17 drives if he replicates the effort.

Geno's Secret Weapon

Truth told, the extent of Smith's role in the Jets' game plan is often turning to his right or left and handing the ball to a running back. But, with the addition of versatile playmaker Percy Harvin, the possibilities are at least multiplied. Harvin ran six times for 27 yards in Week 13, and he'll likely be covered by cornerback Brent Grimes when it comes to passing downs this time around.


One coach has eluded the hangman's noose, while the other one likely will not. Ironically, it's that lack of job status that could provide the difference in the finale. While Philbin has more overall talent on both sides of the ball, Ryan does intermittently get a lot out of a roster that's really not even on an NFL average level. That bunch will get itself up for one last go-round before "Black Monday" comes.

Sports Network predicted outcome: Jets 17, Dolphins 16