Rex Ryan was unable to snap the Jets' now three-year playoff drought, but he will get at least one more shot at it. Team owner Woody Johnson told reporters after Sunday's win over Miami that Ryan will return as the Jets' head coach next season.
Johnson said that he had decided to retain Ryan prior to the team's season-ending two-game win streak, according to Newsday's Kimberly Martin, and that Ryan knew of his status prior to Week 17. Perhaps that reassurance helped Ryan game plan for the Dolphins -- the Jets delivered a loose, energetic effort that included a gutsy halfback pass in the closing moments.
Ryan wrapped 2013 with a 42-38 record in his five seasons as the Jets' head man (including an 8-8 mark this year). But New York has not participated in the playoffs since losing back-to-back AFC title games in Ryan's first two seasons at the helm.
The Jets opened the season alternating wins and losses over the first nine weeks, heading into their bye at 5-4. They suffered three straight setbacks after that, however, all but ending their playoff hopes. A Week 15 loss to Carolina coupled with Baltimore's win one day later officially eliminated the Jets.
Smith's late improvement this season may have convinced Johnson that the groundwork had been laid for the Jets to rejoin the playoffs in 2014. New York also could free up some substantial cap space by releasing players such as QB Mark Sanchez and WR Santonio Holmes, who together would save the Jets more than $16 million next season.