NEW YORK — Staring at the New York Jets’ 2-10 record, no one is happy these days.
Not the players, not the people who root for them, and certainly not coach Rex Ryan.
“I’m embarrassed for myself, absolutely,” Ryan said during a conference call. “It’s an embarrassment. It’s definitely embarrassing to me. I feel like I’ve let my owner down. I’ve let our fan base down.”
Ryan could be facing his final four games with the franchise he led to consecutive AFC title games in his first two years. New York will miss the postseason for the fourth straight time, and owner Woody Johnson will have some huge decisions to make.
Ryan and General Manager John Idzik have been widely criticized for leading a team with the second-worst record in the NFL — tied with the likes of Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and Tennessee.
One group of fed-up fans started a website calling for Idzik to be fired and raised money to put up billboards near MetLife Stadium. The latest insists Johnson should sell the team if he doesn’t fire Idzik after this season.
After controlling the clock and the ground game for most of the night, the Jets made too many mistakes in the end to hold on in a 16-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 1 in front of a nearly half-empty stadium.
It’s a far cry from just a few years ago, when Ryan was a larger-than-life figure in New York-area sports, appearing on late-night television programs, getting a cameo in an Adam Sandler movie and being a best-selling author with a book tour.
Now, in his sixth season, Ryan gets questions that once seemed so unimaginable: Does he think he’ll be back with the Jets next season?
“It’s easy for me to pick, to say, ‘Yeah, absolutely,’” Ryan said. “But I get it. The year hasn’t gone anywhere close to what we were thinking. I’m going to focus on beating Minnesota. I’m not worried about anything else but that.”
These last four games might be sort of an audition for Ryan, who could be a prime candidate to land another job as a head coach or defensive coordinator in the NFL. Or maybe even a high-paying TV gig.
“I don’t think that way,” Ryan insisted. “My job is not to worry about myself. My job is to get this team prepared to the best of my ability, and that’s what I plan on doing.”
So, next up for Ryan and the Jets are the Vikings in Minnesota. Geno Smith, who threw just 13 passes Monday, will get the start again.
Smith was benched for three games in favor of Michael Vick before Dec. 1. Leading up to the game, Ryan said the switch back to Smith was the right move for the team, presumably so the Jets could further evaluate the second-year quarterback.
Then, Smith was just 7-of-13 for 65 yards as New York ran the ball 49 times for 277 yards to try to offset Miami’s tough pass rush. So, did Ryan learn anything about Smith’s performance?
“No, he only threw 13 passes,” Ryan joked. “I’m just kidding. I know you guys don’t see the humor in it, but to me I do, because you guys seem to think that the game plan was for us to just throw 13 passes. That wasn’t the game plan. The game plan was to try to establish the run, and when you have that kind of success running, that helps the football team, and that’s why we stayed the course.”
Ryan insisted the run-heavy approach wasn’t an indication that the Jets have no faith in Smith’s ability to make plays with his arm.
But Smith had only eight attempts the entire game until the Jets’ final drive — which ended with an interception, Smith’s 11th of the season.
“Again, we weren’t trying to just put Geno Smith back there 13 times,” Ryan said. “If that’s the case, if we can run for 300 yards again this week, I would love to sign up for it. We’re just trying to find a way to give us a chance to win the football game, and I thought we did that. It’s just unfortunate we came up short.”
(DENNIS WASZAK Jr., AP Sports Writer)