NEW YORK — One more week. One final game.
That’s all that might be left in Rex Ryan’s tenure as coach of the New York Jets, with his future uncertain beyond the Dec. 28 season finale at Miami against the Dolphins.
Sweeping changes could be on tap for the Jets, who are 3-12 after a 17-16 loss to the New England Patriots on Dec. 21 and finishing out a fourth straight season without a playoff appearance.
Owner Woody Johnson could opt to clean house on Dec. 29 by firing Ryan as well as General Manager John Idzik, pushing the reset button on the franchise.
“I’m not worried about a coaching change or whatever,” Ryan said during a conference call. “I’m not even worried. I’m just looking forward to the opportunity that’s right in front of us, and that’s playing against Miami.”
Beyond that, of course, is anyone’s guess. Johnson has been keeping his thoughts on the situation close to the vest, but he can’t be happy with what has transpired on the field or off during the past few seasons.
Four years ago, the Jets were a win away from the Super Bowl. Now, they’re among the teams with the worst records in the NFL.
“I think when we look at this season and the games we did lose, there were, in my opinion, a lot of games that were decided by a couple of mistakes or a couple of plays,” left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson said. “It actually makes me feel that if we were to overcome those mistakes or made those plays at critical times, that we’d be put in a very different place.
“I don’t think we’re far away. I think a few key pieces is what we need.”
But Johnson could determine that a few of those include a new coach and a new General Manager. “I’m not thinking about it,” Ryan said. “I’ve never worried about it, and won’t. I know I have a job to do, and I plan on doing it.”
Jets players have been asked for weeks about the possibility of a coaching change, which would lead to changes throughout the locker room as well as the staff.
“I think 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,” quarterback Geno Smith said. “To reset and readjust 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.”
The players haven’t given up hope that Ryan could return, but they know the decision is out of their hands. They could, however, have better stated their case on the field. The Jets’ two losses to the Patriots this season were by a total of three points, and seven of their 12 losses overall were by 10 or fewer points.
Ferguson is finishing his ninth season, all with the Jets, and he went through a coaching change when Eric Mangini was fired after the 2008 season. As a veteran looking at the twilight of his career, he’s wary of what could be involved in a total shake-up of the organization.
“I actually think if we preserve what we have and just strategically make some switches here or there,” Ferguson said, “we’d be far better off than trying to clear everything and start fresh.”
It’s a sentiment shared by several players throughout the locker room, but it might not be enough to save Ryan or Idzik from the unemployment line in less than a week.
“Hopefully we can just preserve what we have and, if anything,” Ferguson said, “learn just how to do what we do better and hopefully we won’t have another year that was like this.”
(DENNIS WASZAK Jr., AP Sports Writer)