New York Jets fire head coach Rex Ryan, general manager John Idzik
The NFL's "Black Monday" usually produces a surprise firing or two. This was not one.
The New York Jets announced early Monday that head coach Rex Ryan was out, following four straight seasons without a playoff berth. Along with him, the Jets also showed GM John Idzik the door, meaning the franchise is set for a full-scale reset prior to the 2015 season.
• Tale of tape: 4-12 in 2014; 46-50 in the regular season overall; 4-2 playoff record, including back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances in 2009-10.
• What went wrong: This season, just about everything.
The problems began, as they so often do when these coaching situations go awry, back in the offseason. Despite Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie patrolling other secondaries, Idzik did little to help Ryan at cornerback, a position that serves as one of the centerpieces for Ryan's multifaceted defense.
The D still managed to hold it together at times, finishing in the middle of the pack vs. the pass and top 10 against the run. The depleted secondary, however, produced just six interceptions -- tied with Jacksonville and Kansas City for the fewest in the NFL.
Offensively, the same challenges that had been present throughout much of Ryan's tenure as head coach lingered. A Geno Smith-Michael Vick QB duel unraveled quickly in the offseason, with Vick first saying he was content being the backup and then admitting he was unprepared when Ryan put him into the lineup.
Idzik did make significant moves, signing WR Eric Decker in the offseason and trading for WR Percy Harvin just before the deadline. Aside from a Week 17 outburst in Miami, the offense still showed little progress.
The Jets followed up a Week 1 win with eight straight losses. By that point, Ryan's fate was all but sealed.
• Roster outlook: There are a couple of bright spots, notably up front on defense thanks to Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson. Decker also finished the year with 74 catches for 962 yards despite little help from his QBs.
Overall, however, this is at best a roster in flux. The quarterback conundrum remains a black cloud for the franchise. Vick is set to be a free agent but Smith is under contract for next season, so the next coach could try again to turn him into a true No. 1. The smarter play at this point would be to send Smith to the bench and attempt to upgrade the starting spot, either through the draft (New York picks No. 6 in Round 1) or a free agency/trade move.
There are minimal key players with expiring contracts: David Harris, a 16-game starter at linebacker, is the most noteworthy. A decision also must be made on Harvin at some point in the near future.
A one-year fix may be asking too much for the next regime, particularly with the unsettled QB situation. It will take some time for the new GM to undo Idzik's mess and the new coach to shape the roster.
• Possible replacements: Josh McDaniels, Adam Gase, Dan Quinn, Darrell Bevell, Hue Jackson, Kyle Shanahan, Jack Del Rio. There is no shortage of options, both those somewhat tested (McDaniels, Del Rio) and those set for a first head coaching shot. McDaniels, Gase, Jackson, Shanahan and Bevell all would represent a shift away from the defensive-minded Ryan.
As far as the GM job goes, Tom Gamble and Brian Gaine could be among the names to watch. Both interviewed for the Jets' job before Idzik was handed the reigns two years ago.