Posted September 03, 2013

Rex Ryan’s decision to miss final cuts a disservice to coaches, players

AFC East, New York Jets
Rex Ryan attended the Clemson-Georgia game as the Jets trimmed their roster to 53.

Rex Ryan attended the Clemson-Georgia game as the Jets trimmed their roster to 53. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Rex Ryan is a man under fire — we all know that. Going into his fifth season as the league’s most talked-about head coach has worn away most of the goodwill that his brio and bravado originally engendered. That will happen when your team goes 14-18 over two seasons after two straight trips to the AFC championship game. The current roster is a disaster, and that’s not entirely his fault. Former general manager Mike Tannenbaum engineered a series of decisions that ranged from questionable to catastrophic, and he is out of the picture. New GM John Idzik comes from Seattle, where he managed the team’s salary cap and had a very limited voice in personnel decisions. Most will tell you that the change up top indicates that Ryan is in his win-or-go-home season, and it would appear that Ryan believes he can do both.

On Saturday, while the Jets were mulling their final cuts to get down to the league-mandated 53-man roster, Ryan was watching his son Seth, a walk-on receiver for Clemson, as the Tigers faced the Georgia Bulldogs. (The younger Ryan was active, but did not play.) His absence was excused by Idzik, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, and the rest of the front office finalized the tough decisions. It was the first time in Ryan’s Jets tenure that he wasn’t there for final cuts. A team spokesperson told Mehta that Ryan was in contact with the Jets’ organization during that time, and Ryan said that he had talked to several of the players before they were released.

On a recent NBC conference call, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy said that he applauded Ryan’s decision, and from the perspective of a family man, the move is laudable. It’s long been known that coaches struggle mightily to balance career and family, and it’s a hard thing to do under the best of circumstances. Coaches on the hot seat may find it especially difficult to find time for their families.

“It’s not like I’m going to be able to go to another game,” Ryan said on Monday. “It just so happened that I could make that one; it was a night game. So that’s really what I did. I took advantage of it. It was great. I just played dad there for a day and it was a lot of fun.”

The situation Ryan left, however, was tenuous at best. Idzik is running personnel for the first time, and this is a time when coaches and general managers work hard to not only purge their current rosters, but discuss who might help their team from the waiver wire. Ryan returned to the facility early Sunday evening, one full day after the Jets were one of the last teams to announce their moves to get to the final 53.

Recently, TheMMQB.com Editor-in-Chief Peter King referred to the relationship between Ryan and Idzik as a “shotgun marriage.” It’s certainly a quick-twitch partnership that has already produced some strange results.

It’s not entirely unprecedented for a head coach to be out of the building when these moves are made. In fact, Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak was at Saturday’s game between Texas A&M and Rice for similar reasons — his son Klein is a senior receiver for the Owls, and his son Klint is an offensive graduate assistant coach for the Aggies. But the Texans’ facility on Kirby Drive is less than 100 miles from College Station, the Texans have the hay in the barn from a personnel perspective and Kubiak is far from a lame duck. He may be under some heat if the Texans don’t get further in the playoffs this season, but that’s a rich man’s problem. Kubiak’s situation is different, even though it’s not.

Ryan’s absence will lead to further speculation that he’s a lame-duck coach in 2013, and if the Jets have let him know that in any way, shape, or form, he might be within his rights to be less involved when it comes to the Jets’ decision-making.

What the to-be-released players, deserve, however, is a minute with their former head coach. It’s an emotional time — we’ve all seen the cuts on Hard Knocks – and most teams take special care to let those released players know that there is gratitude for their contributions, though said contributions weren’t enough to help the team in definite ways.

“[There are] a lot of worthy players,” San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said Saturday, after his team announced final cuts. “And the thing that’s profound to me was that so many guys improved, so many guys were ascending players, right up to the point of making the final roster. It made the day, to me, a very exciting, good day by the efforts of the players and what our coaches accomplished over the offseason and the training camp. And to see young football players ascend and get better as football players, that’s very exciting to me. But I have yet to have a day where it’s not been a good experience to watch the players ascend.”

One decision that was personal for Harbaugh was to move on from long-snapper Brian Jennings and go with Kevin McDermott. You may say that the battle to long-snap isn’t big in a football sense, but that’s not always true in other ways.

“That was a big decision because Brian Jennings, to me, we breathe the same air,” the coach said, “There’s nobody I can say I enjoy more than Brian Jennings. Watching him play, watching him compete, just being around him every single day. And I think Brian’s got more football in him. He’s definitely a NFL top-level talent. And we felt that way about Kevin McDermott and that decision we felt was in the best interest of the team. But, yeah, on a personal level that was as tough as it gets.”

For Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, who runs personnel in lock-step with GM John Schneider, being around for final cuts was both an opportunity to maximize the bottom third of the roster, and to let some important veterans know that they will be missed.

“We burned a candle up here,” Carroll said on Monday. “John Schneider and his guys worked late and looked at every single guy that came across the wire that might have a chance, and we’re really happy with the guys that we’ve kept. To be so competitive; it was verified by all the guys that wound up in other people’s camps. There are a lot of guys on other teams’ practice squads and active rosters as well. It was hard for us to look at someone that could come in and take anybody’s spot. John busted it to get to that point and that’s how it turned out.”

One of the players Carroll and Schneider had to cut was fullback Michael Robinson, whose contract situation apparently overtook the on-field performance that had him in the Pro Bowl two years ago — and the overall personal value that made Robinson a key leader on a very young team.

“Very difficult. We had a lot of tough decisions and Mike was one of them. Mike had been with us for a long time. All these guys hurt us when they left because they had bought in and given us everything that they had. Mike was a very instrumental guy on this football team as we were coming along. So they were all hard decisions.”

Hard decisions deserve the full participation of everyone involved. The front office deserves it, the coaches deserve it and goodness knows the players who are now without jobs deserve it.

“This is the hardest week for us in the fact that these guys have been here all spring — OTAs and the draft process and … training camp and then we have to make the decisions,” Denver Broncos EVP of Football Operations John Elway said of his team’s final cuts. “It’s not an easy day because they all worked hard. We just don’t have enough slots for everybody.”

However, the Broncos did have enough time for everybody, and their head coach also understood the weight of the situation.

“It’s hard every year,” John Fox said. “Guys put in a lot of time. It’s obviously a tough day for all the coaches and personnel people because there is a lot invested in these guys and I’m not just talking about just financially. I’m talking about time, effort, and on their part as well. So it’s never easy.”

It’s never easy when it’s done the right way, that is.

65 comments
RobertSmith
RobertSmith

Why have a coach who is going to be fired 5 games into the season making critical personnel decisions?

mtcwell
mtcwell

Totally unfair.  Family first always.  Yes you appreciate these players for all they give but again family first.  Would love to know if you'd have stayed.  If so thats fine but how do you knock a guy for going to see his sons football game.  Misguided is your article in my opinion

bhayes420
bhayes420

Good for Rex!  He took time from his family, and the team had to have a good idea who they were releasing before he left.  Heck, they have these neat gizmos today called "cell phones" that allow people to stay in contact from nearly any location.  I'm sure the Jets have heard of these things and probably utilized it when Rex was away to communicate with him.  I can't jump on the man for wanting to see his son's football game.  These coaches miss so much family things anyway.  

rma101560
rma101560

Eli Manning and the entire Giants i=organization have got to be loving this situation.  No matter what is happening with the Giants, nobody will take their eyes off of the Jet's train wreck long enough to notice.

BrianHeinze
BrianHeinze

I appreciate that you did your research on other teams' experiences with cut day, but I am in disbelief that you can actually believe what you are saying. Sure, the final cuts are a huge day, and as a former college football player, I understand that you would want the coach there. Where you go wrong though is with your analysis. You start off with Ryan and the fact that he actually went to see his kid in uniform for a Division 1 football team, and then you make him look bad by comparing him to coaches who vouch that they talked to their players who were cut. I am a huge Jets fan, but I am also very realistic of the fact that these coaches are people too. As other commenters have mentioned, coaches such as Tony Dungy and Andy Reid have had traumatic experiences with their children. God forbid you, as a nationally followed columnist, look at the real world view of this situation. My parents both went to my first game in college, even though I was redshirted. You, as a columnist, will never understand how much that meant to me. Seth Ryan more than likely enjoyed having his DAD in the stands for his first game as a D1 athlete. Keep that in mind the next time you, inadvertently or directly, go after someone in the future for having a life. You're just as bad as a lot of the beat writers for the Jets. Here's to hoping you actually have a real life outside of writing.

donald5
donald5

Sounds like the front office is making the decisions anyways.  Do they want him at the facility so he can play doodle jump in the corner while the GM makes the cuts?

funtasticus
funtasticus

Amazing - guy has a winning record after 4 season, a top tier defense, and is making the most of a weak offense.  What else do they want from the guy?  Player speak highly of him - current and former - they play hard and they play about their ability. hell 6-10 last year with that offense and Sporano as the OC is amazing!

btcvsolo
btcvsolo

My irrelevant & irreverent thought of the day:

If Rex Ryan was a 14 year old girl, he'd commit suicide from all the bullying. There'd be an outcry, lawmakers would call a press conference to demand tougher legislation, and ESPN would run a 3 hour-long special on his life.

Instead, he chose to be a head coach in the world's media capital, so suck it up & win some games, Fluffy. Doubtful he can with that circus that he himself helped create, but stranger things have happened...

EdEsposito1
EdEsposito1

Seeing your son ride the pine in person is about as exciting as watching the Jets live.   We know they will never be exciting as Butt Fumble......

L7
L7

Ryan takes heat from SI, and then SI writes about Ryan taking heat. Top drawer journalism, kids.

PaulSharpe
PaulSharpe

As if it makes 'ANY' difference with this fat, pig idiotic & his dysfunctional bunch of clowns...   LMMFAO


atthebarbershop
atthebarbershop

He was excused by the only person who mattered, his boss. Reason number 243 to hate the media. Making a story out of thin air. Dungy, and Reid found out the hard way what can happen when a dad isn't there for his kids. Pamplona, and Clemson were two ways Ryan put his family first, and he and his family are better for it. The Jets suck anyway, missing cut day ain't gonna make them better.

mystafugee
mystafugee

Congrats to Rex Ryan who apparently is the only person in the world who has a family.  

CMFJ
CMFJ

"But the Texans’ facility on Kirby Drive is less than 100 miles from College Station.."


This is desperately searching for something to support the narrative.  What, was Kubiak going to get a helicopter to help his front office? No, he would have used a cell phone to call or skype.  Just like Ryan.


As for the other main argument, there are two important points:

1. if Idzik needs his hand held, he should not have the job.  

2. It seems obvious that Ryan, Idzik, and the rest of the decision makers had discussed the scenarios beforehand.  If they were really leaving the critical thinking until the last minute, then the FO is totally in disorder.  

Of course, that would fly in the face of the narrative that Ryan is somehow in a free fall.  Well, he may be, but that has a lot more to do with his roster than this incident or the Sanchez incident.

atalantic
atalantic

Rax got to see his fatso Ryan progeny ride the pine; kinda like he made Tebow ride it last year. Except Tebow was a legit football player. So Rax spent the weekend watching Nothing as he actively neglected his own team and his own professional responsibilities to his charges. Now, on to the 2013 Jets farce in earnest. You can hardly blame Rax for poooing on his own team.....

NebojsaTodorovic
NebojsaTodorovic

I read the top 5 posts and actually threw up a little.

Those 5 people are what you get when you ask for an idiot.

We aren't here to critique Ryan's parenthood.  If we were, we would also include his foot porn posts, his wife's tattoo pictures, and his ridiculous public pressers.

No, we're here to talk about his coaching.  His coaching for the past 3 years has been an embarrassment to the NFL.  Almost, but not quite, to the level of the 5 sycophants that I read.

atalantic
atalantic

Rax got to see his fat Ryan progeny ride the pine, kind of like he made Tebow ride it. Except Tebow was a legit player. Hope Rax enjoyed seeing nothing last weekend as he neglected his own team and responsibilities. Now, back to the Jets 2013 farce!

RyanRajmoolie
RyanRajmoolie

Good for him, man.  Anyone who has a son or daughter SHOULD do the same thing.  Anyone who has wanted their mom or dad there to support them would be ecstatic to have them show up under any circumstances, especially this one.  The only people who seem that this is a disservice is the writer and possibly the guys getting cut.  Good for you, Rex Ryan.  Good for you, man.

Bearsclone
Bearsclone

I don't care much for Ryan.  He seems like a major blowhole.

That said, I can't fault his decision.  I'm sure it might have been smoother if he was present for the waiver wire decisions, but ultimately that's what a GM is paid to do, to troll the waiver wire and look for bottom of the roster players.  

jimmy17
jimmy17

As a Fins fan, I hate the Jets.  I have my likes and dislikes about Rex Ryan, but as a father, I truly feel he made the right choice.  There is such a thing called delegation and when used correctly, it is a great thing.

WilyCoyoteSuperGenius
WilyCoyoteSuperGenius

I am neither a Jets nor a Ryan fan - but this story is ridiculous. It is another example of how the modern media feel that whatever THEY seize on is a world shaking story. Personally I applaud a father who went to support his son. I cannot believe some of the comments I heard today on the radio from supposed journalists. Taken by themselves you would have assumed Rex had murdered a preschool class and eaten them.

3M_TA3
3M_TA3

I'm no Jets fan but this is a non-story as the cuts were done on Friday then posted Saturday. But I guess haters are gonna hate. Typical New York-style hate, to boot.

j7apple
j7apple

Much ado about nothing. This is the 21st century, we do have phones, smart ones at that. Nothing Ryan couldn't do while away that he couldn't  do in person, and I am sure he did much in person before he left.

Talk about a lame story.  Ryan knows the deal.  Dumb media sensation over nothing.



rma101560
rma101560

I won't criticize Ryan for this decision.  His man-love affair with Sanchez, his loud mouth and his entire handling of the Jets over the last couple of seasons have provided more than enough ammo for his decisions.  A deep run in the playoffs will be the only thing that saves his job and I wouldn't bet a dollar that they will even make the playoffs.  Oh well, at least we can look forward to Rex providing all of us with some comic relief as this season unravels.

olaf27
olaf27

Ryan is done after this season. No one in New York wants him around, he knows less then zero about offense, and the GM who hired him is gone. Unless the Jets win the Super Bowl this year, he will be fired. If there 2-8 at some point in the season he probably won't even make it the full season.

funtasticus
funtasticus

The coverage the Jets get for everything they do is crazy.  ESPN ranks them 32 out of 32 teams.  The BIlls are starting an undrafted rookie, the Dolphins, Raiders, and Jags haven't sniffed the playoffs in years and nothing will change this year.  If the Jets were in Miami you would hear about a solid young core on the defensive side - a strong front 4.  An upgraded running attack, an offense lad by a new OC that will be a huge step forward from Sporano.  That doesn't get comments, page views, and controversy though.

BobBurwell
BobBurwell

Written by a columnist who no longer goes into the office to pound his work out on a Remington. I agree, 15 yards for unnecessary roughness

The Guy In Freeport
The Guy In Freeport

For a head coach who is on the hot seat before the season begins, that's kind of bizarre... But the Jets are bizarre, otherwise how can you reasonably explain drafting a QB in the first 3 rounds when your head coach is on the hot seat? This alone demonstrates a subpar organization.

scBlais
scBlais

Knock on Rex for some of his coaching decisions all you want.  But in this case?  Please, this is just piling on for the sake of it.

Good for Rex getting out to see his kid play.  And hey it's not like he didn't have his phone with him and couldn't do video calls when/if needed.

GrandpaK
GrandpaK

I  wholeheartedly agree with everyone who has posted in support of Rex Ryan going to see his son (stand on the sidelines).   I am a retired HS principal who attended games for other kids while missing some of my own children's activities.   I regret that decision now and will forever.   Your kids come first - over every job.   Rex explained that he had been part of the final cuts process, had his input, and took a late flight out to support his son.   Way to go Rex.

nd68
nd68

Totally agree with everyone backing Rex seeing his family on this. 

Someday on his deathbed, he'll never say, man, I wish I'd been there for those final cuts. No, he'll say, I'm *amn glad I was there to see my son.

tlm773458
tlm773458

I am not a Jets fan nor do I really care about the situation occurring with Rex Ryan and that team.  But, even if you despise him and the team, you MUST give him credit.  Regardless of what he does this year as HC of the Jets, including whether he stays beyond this season, the truth is that his family will be there when the NFL and the Jets organization no longer are.  

Once again with this type of story, American Media is proving how truly pathetic they really are. This is the kind of trash you'd expect from Paparazzi tailing Hollywood elite.

pmccnn
pmccnn

As a Patriots fan who loves to poke fun at the disaster that is Rex Ryan as head coach of the NY Jets, I think this an absolute B.S. issue. He took a day off to watch his son's team play, which is the only this year that he'll be able to do this. Rex provides the media a lot of reasons to complain about him and his team, back off on this one - it's a none issue.

jimmyjon_55555
jimmyjon_55555

the only 'fire' hes getting for seeing his son play (imagine that?- seeing his son??)  is from the press... pathetic story.  

Herroldo
Herroldo

With Geno Smith announced as the starter for this team the season is over anyway.  What is the issue?

The GM wants his own coach and Rex has one last year protected by the owner of the team.  Good for him for making it to his son's game.

We are not talking about a Superbowl contender here.

Sammc25
Sammc25

If Ryan wasn't under fire for the horrible personnel moves by The Jets, this wouldn't be a story. Actually it might be, and everyone would be talking about what a great Dad he is because he went to his son's game

jbc123
jbc123

Would someone please contact that tool who wears the fireman hat/helmet to the games, and find-out what he thinks. Ryan is the proverbial "dead man walking" , with a QB (Sanchise-remember that nickname?) who can't play,a team that has 4-12 written all over it,in a city with no pity. You clowns have come a long way (HBO) in a short time, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

toyota_tundra
toyota_tundra

Really?  A disservice to players who he won't ever see again?

donald5
donald5

And honestly... you got Andy Reid's kid dying of an OD and Tony Dungy's kid committing suicide and there are really people out there who criticize a guy for seeing his kid's first college game?  I'm sure if Ryan's boy ended up killing himself the same media would be criticizing him for being an absentee parent.

Chris8
Chris8

@L7 Well sure.  What better way to "report" on controversy than to manufacture it yourself?

funtasticus
funtasticus

 @olaf27 I want him around.  Guy leads a solid defense and takes no elite offensive weapons and has a winning record after 4 seasons.  You can't keep firing coaches every 3-5 years, bringing in new staff, and keep thinking you will suddenly be amazing.  Bills since Levy has left, Phins since Shula left are still looking for some form of consistency. Sticking with coaches and letting them develop usually produces solid results unless you bring in a coach with elite talent and get lucky (San Fran and Seattle with their QBs -luck - and elite defensive talent)

funtasticus
funtasticus

@The Guy In Freeport please - since 1998 - 2 AFC East Title, 3 AFC Championship games, 7 playoff appearances.  You know how many fans would kill for that kind of subpar performances?  Miami, Buffalo, Jags, Raiders, Bengals, Titans, Cardinals, Rams, Redskins, the list goes on of teams that haven't sniffed even close to that type of performance this century

The Guy In Freeport
The Guy In Freeport

@funtasticus @The Guy In Freeport I see that you like to console yourself by comparing to the NFL's worst during that period. Good for you...

Now, care to answer the main question: how can you reasonably explain drafting a QB in the first 3 rounds when your head coach is on the hot seat?



Mel
Mel

@funtasticus You make it sound like all of that was due to Rex. He took over someone else's roster. Took that roser to 2 AFC title games, which they tanked, and he has gotten this team to play worse each year since. But yeah,  the Jets are just the envy of everyone...LOLOL

funtasticus
funtasticus

@Mel every new coach picks up the roster from the previous regime. I have never seen a new coach flip 53 players.  You coach what you have - he signed his free agents, drafted, and got that team to play better than anyone expected. No one had them winning 5 games let alone being a top ranked defense and making back to back AFC Championship games.   Ask the fans in Buffalo, Miami, Cleveland...if they would take Rex Ryan, a top tier defense, winning records, and playoff appearances.