And then in Week 16, the New York Jets beat the Cleveland Browns, securing what was probably their best win of the season, as always seems to be the case every time they win (especially in relation to those horrendous losses that they had been alternating wins with earlier in the year.)
Geno Smith, having seemingly grasped the game of professional football yet again, completed 20 of his 36 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns AND ran one in himself, to boot. Isn’t everyone glad the Jets decided to stick with him for the rest of the season? With a full off-season to work and the knowledge that he is this team’s starter, Smith can hopefully become a much more consistent quarterback going forward. Additionally, in a shocking turn of events, Dee Milliner came to play.
Before the game started, I decided that I would be okay with a Jets loss if I could see Josh Gordon go off for 200+ yards receiving yards (much in the same way I would have liked to see Kevin Durant drop 50 on the Knicks on Christmas.) For reference, Josh Gordon was leading the league in receiving yards coming into the game with 1,467, despite missing the first two games of the year due to suspension. That’s a little over 122 yards receiving over twelve games, a stretch which also included the first time in NFL history where someone had back-to-back games of over 200 receiving yards. So going up against a struggling rookie like Milliner… well that should be easy pickin’s, right? One would not expect Milliner to say, oh I don’t know, lead the team with nine tackles, defend six passes and record his first interception, would they? Well they should, because that was exactly what happened. The key to Milliner’s surprising success? As he put it to the Wall Street Journal, Josh Gordon’s behaviors on the field were identical to those on game film, which Milliner had watched to prepare. I don’t know if this means that A) Milliner never watched tape to prepare before or that B) Every other receiver Milliner has matched up against acts differently on the field than in footage of them playing in games, but hey, I’m glad it finally worked out for Dee Milliner. It’s just too bad it had to come in what was basically meaningless game (the Jets having been eliminated from playoff contention by the Baltimore Ravens’ win on the previous Monday Night Football game.)
The only thing keeping this game from being totally meaningless though, is what it might mean for the future of Rex Ryan’s job as New York Jets head coach. Now, in the infancy of these posts, I always put a “Rex Ryan Job Security Watch” towards the end as a sort of joke on how Ryan’s behavior in post-game press conferences reflected where he stood on keeping or losing his job. It seemed appropriate at a time when I thought the team would be just god awful, but once the Jets started winning every other game and looking like they would exceed expectations (and I ran out of synonyms for “lukewarm”) I decided to just give it a rest. Taking a team with so many issues and holes to anywhere near a .500 record would have to be enough for Rex Ryan to secure his job for at least another year. Yet, last week before the Cleveland game, reports were coming in that Rex was telling his players he believed he would be fired at season’s end, and that they should go out and get these next two wins for him.
Rex Ryan clearly knows nothing about offense. Rex Ryan tends to run his mouth when he should be choosing his words more carefully. Rex Ryan has a tattoo of his wife wearing a Mark Sanchez jersey and has a well-publicized foot fetish. But, it’s in the way that Rex Ryan has been able to put together the first great New York Jets pass rush in years, the way he has confidence in himself and his team and the way that he’s kind of just a weird guy that make him, maybe not a great coach, but a coach that you want for your team and someone I’ve mostly enjoyed having around these last five years. Plus, his players love him and love playing for him, because it’s clear from the way he carries himself on the sidelines that he actually gives a shit (especially when he’s screaming in the face of a referee for not throwing a flag on a late hit on his quarterback.) This is probably why guys like Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie are willing to take pay cuts to stay Jets, and even why Mark Sanchez is quoted as saying he’d like to remain with the team.
Most importantly, after all the crap that went down before the season started, this team can finish with eight wins and eight losses. As I said above, for Rex Ryan to take a team with this little talent and depth to any place near a .500 record is absolutely grounds to keep him around. #SaveRex. Now let’s go eat a god damn snack.