Opinion: Idzik puts himself in no-lose situation with Rex deal

NFL: New York Jets-Training Camp

Columnist and TheJetsBlog podcast co-host Corey Griffin takes a look at the Rex Ryan contract extension from Thursday.

Corey Griffin, TheJetsBlog.com

Take a bow, John Idzik. You deserve it.

In a time where Jets fans have nothing to digest but draft speculation and other teams playing football, you’ve given us something substantial to chew on. But more importantly, you’ve done something that’s very difficult for any NFL executive to achieve.

You’ve put yourself in a no-lose situation.

Rex Ryan’s contract extension Thursday was everything Idzik could’ve wanted it to be, and more importantly, not everything Ryan would’ve preferred.

The immediate appearance of a reported “multiyear extension” publicly gives Ryan an air of credibility and support from within the organization. It allows the Jets assistant coaches with at least the appearance of long-term stability and helps erase the black eye of a year-to-year contract situation with the head coach. Whether this convinces Karl Dunbar to stay and coach one of the best defensive lines in football is uncertain, but it certainly helps more than the amorphous situation the team presented at their year-end news conference.

Also worth noting is the boost the extension will give Ryan and Idzik in free agency. Sure, scores of anonymous (and some on the record) players would “love” to play for Rex, but there’s a reason why most coaches don’t stick around as lame ducks. The players Idzik wants, the guys who can help make a week-in and week-out difference on the field and who aren’t just for-pay mercenaries, are going to weigh the status of the head coach along with the size of the contract. The appearance of Ryan having multiple years in Florham Park at least will help make their sell job stronger.

But dig a little a deeper and Idzik’s other motives begin to show.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the deal is essentially a one-year extension with other non-guaranteed years tacked on as “window dressing.” It’s a power move by Idzik. It’s the equivalent of giving your dog a treat for learning to “sit” and “roll over” at your command. Sure, he gets to chew on that wonderful little thing for a while, but Rex knows he has to perform if wants to keep getting them.

It also gives Idzik cost-effective flexibility. If Ryan performs again in 2014 and the Jets reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2010 season, Idzik has one of the 12 best head coaches in the NFL under contract for multiple years at a reportedly heavily-incentivized rate. And if the Jets miss the playoffs – if that truly is the line of demarcation for Ryan’s job status – Idzik can move on from the incredibly-popular coach without costing owner Woody Johnson a Rob Chudzinski-sized hunk of dead money – and, more importantly in Johnson’s eyes, any bad headlines.

Most importantly, Ryan’s extension drew a line in the sand not just for the coach, but for his quarterback as well.

Fairly or not, Ryan’s fate has been inexorably tied to that of his unproven quarterback ever since Smith was drafted. And despite a positive showing in the final four games of 2013, whether Smith can be a good NFL quarterback remains uncertain. If the Jets were to have cut bait with Ryan after the season, there stood a good chance offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg would’ve gone with him. In today’s NFL, where QBs are expected to deliver by year two, putting a quarterback as developmental as Smith in two offensive systems in two years would’ve been tantamount to failure.

By extending Rex for this year, Idzik has strengthened the bond between quarterback and coach. If Smith progresses in his second full season, there’s a decent chance the Jets will be better than they were in 2014, which could be enough to make the playoffs in a potentially-uneven AFC. If Smith fails to progress and his struggles help torpedo the Jets’ playoff chances, Idzik will have the option to make a clean break from both coach and quarterback while continuing to build up the talent base he inherited.

While there certainly weren’t many attractive options in the 2013 quarterback class or 2014 coaching group (Jay Gruden, anyone?), 2015’s group could include San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase – not to mention the looming specter of potential No. 1 pick Jameis Winston.

All of this is to say that absolutely no one knows how the 2014 season will play out for Ryan, Idzik or the Jets. Yet Idzik has given himself the option to start over at the two most important positions in the NFL with almost no blowback despite being two full years into his rebuilding plan.

That’s a pretty savvy move for a guy who’s less than 365 days into his GM career.




20 comments
Judetruth
Judetruth

@CoreyGriffinNBC Idzik didn't bank on 2-9 though. My guess is, he was expecting 6-10 or 7-9. Less pressure on him

a57se
a57se

Sounds like the Jets assistant coaches are now being re-signed. 

Rex got his coaches and Idzik got the flexibility in Rex' contract to dump him at minimal cost after next season.

levi
levi

Seeing how much the players like Rex and playing for him I guess they will have to play really hard for him and make the playoffs if they want him to keep his job. That almost seems like a motivational ploy Rex himself would do.

If Geno who is Idziks pick plays terrible next year but the rest of the team plays well what kind of credibility would that give Idzik to fire Rex? Sure he has the option as he did this year, but would it be wise? Maybe thats the type of contract coaches will get under Idzik, (not likely). My point is saying Idzik did this that or the other thing to achieve leverage is simply guess work at best. He has no track record or pattern as he isnt even a year into his job. Add to that the fact that he keeps everything close to the vest and we really dont know what he's up to. I assume winning is his goal not creating a scapegoat until proven otherwise.

  As far as Dunbar goes, barring an offer from someone for DC or another promotion I cant think of any reason why he wouldnt want to come back. He has a super talented young group of guys to coach and watch grow into what could be something very special.

Denzil Ludford
Denzil Ludford

All I care about is what players they bring in via the draft & FA agency. I love how the 49ers are built, they dominate on the both lines of scrimmage. Our D-line looks good can our O-lines be as good in 2014. Continuity at coaching help the Jets they won't be learning a new system so they should play faster.

Bent
Bent moderator

@jaygo In the Jets win over the Colts, the Jets got off to a strong start right off the bat and the Colts never recovered from being punched in the mouth early.  I'd say the Chargers game was kinda different because Denver was pretty much in control only to nearly choke it away late.

a57se
a57se

@levi

Today is Idziks' one year anniversary!

bradysucks
bradysucks

The 49ers have had QB's who protect the football (Smith/Kaepernick)


The Jets have had QB's who give it away and regularly lead the NFL in turnovers (see Sanchez/Geno)


Big difference


No amount of playmakers can save a team when the QB is a turnover machine.......The best the Jets can do is like you said be dominant on the o-line and d-line and run the football. Rex did this in 2009 and 2010 with success and he has had to keep doing this because the QB play has been so wildly inconsistent and careless protecting the football.


Drafting a QB early in this draft if a good one is available would help the Jets - QB/WR/TE should be a priority......


I'd strengthen the o-line depth in free agency and bring in some solid veterans and try to  re-sign Colon (if healthy) and Howard........

Ron Alexander
Ron Alexander

@jake100 Good job.You make some really good points here. But the one thing nobody seems to touch on is that Idzik is a little more on the spot than any one is talking about. By divesting the team of some of the older or under performing vets last off season and signing  a few short term inexpensive "hold the fort " guys to replace them the I-man did a nice job fixing the cap situation. So now the team goes into the free agency period in position to make some noise. Add in the fact the Jets will have as many as 12 picks in this years draft and its easy to see this is an exciting opportunity to put this franchise on the road to a championship. Now, if we draft well and sign 2 or 3 F/A's the Jets will go into the 2014 with a young talented roster and the expectations will be high.  If we make the playoffs the fan base and the media will likely be satisfied and Idzik will get a lot of the credit.. On the other hand, if next years draft is as mediocre (Richardson aside) as the 2013 was does anybody think we will be a playoff team? And given the likely expectations how might Idzik be perceived if the team plays poorly and finishes 5-11 or 6-10? Interesting isn't it? 

Pat d
Pat d

The fact that Rex won 8 games with that roster shows how good of a coach he is. If the talent isn't improved on offense sure they can fire Rex for having another sub par year. But the heat needs to be put on the ones making the personnel decisions. Especially on offense.

marcus81
marcus81

@bradysucks Jets have to draft the best receiver with the first pick, if a good QB is available in the third or fourth round then draft one then, any QB drafted will have almost no one to pass to, we don't know what Geno can do with good receivers, but good receivers would make the turnovers go down instead of forcing the ball to receivers that barely catch the ball the way the team is now. and adding a reliable O line man in Winters spot while he keeps learning would help.

marcus81
marcus81

@Pat d Rex has to get this team to play hard every week, that is the only complaint about Rex

a57se
a57se

@levi@a57se 

Hmmmmm.........good question! I never celebrate my birthday before the actual time I was born!

marcus81
marcus81

@Pat d there's 3 top WR's if any of them are not available by the time the Jets pick there are 2 no.1 rated TE's that can be drafted, there's a few WR's rated very good for the second and 3rd rounds

Pat d
Pat d

No the Jets need the player that is on the top of their draft board. If there is a run on WRs early you don't reach for a WR and pick one that you have rated as a 2nd round pick. You can't draft by need.

Ron Alexander
Ron Alexander

@jake100 @Ron Alexander Another well stated post Jake. I agree with pretty much your entire post. Again, the key here is how we do in free agency and the draft. That is a major question that only time will tell.I don't buy the "it takes three years to evaluate a draft theory because recent history tells a completely different story. I am 61 years old and have followed the NFL since I was old enough to understand what it was all about.Probably age 5 or 6. Never in that span have i seen teams emerge so quickly from also ran's to contenders.It wan't that long ago the fans in N.Orleans were wearing bags on their heads or the teams in Seattle and SF were booing their teams off the field. All of the teams playing this weekend have built strong nucleolus through the draft and augmented their rosters with select key free agent signings and that is clearly the blue print we are currently pursuing. With 12 picks in this draft the I-man needs to do a lot better than his first draft.