Rex Ryan is going to be fired, a development long overdue, and his replacement is going to hunt for a franchise player to unseat the one that never was, Geno Smith. These are the predictable endgames for the 2014 New York Jets, a football team that looks more and more like an oil spill every Sunday.
Ryan and Smith occupy what are widely considered the two most important positions in the NFL, head coach and quarterback, much to the dismay of their fan base. One day after embarrassing themselves in San Diego, Ryan and Smith were at it again when the quarterback gave some dog-ate-my-filmwork reasons for taking in a Saturday movie instead of attending a meeting, and when the coach defended him, in part, by pointing out that Smith didn't miss the last team meeting, but the third-to-last team meeting.
Good heavens. Ryan said Monday it never occurred to him that, for the sake of sending the proper message on accountability to his team, benching his most important player -- a player who had earlier cursed out a fan -- was the right way to go. Of course it didn't. Ryan's a defensive coordinator masquerading as a head coach, and only those who benefit from his position of power have been slow to concede that.
Hey, just because the players like you doesn't mean they respect or fear you.
But though it's clear that Ryan is overmatched, it's just as clear the Jets are at a decided disadvantage upstairs, too. Woody Johnson is the one who forced the incumbent coach on the new general manager, John Idzik, after the 2012 season, and the one who must now answer for the mess the Rex/Idzik Jets are in.
Ryan needs to win now and Idzik can afford to win later, and the conflicting agendas have left the Jets in the kind of no-man's land defined by a 31-0 loss to the Chargers featuring a hopeless Smith and an inserted backup, Michael Vick, who looked like he'd rather have been at Smith's cinema of choice working a box of buttered popcorn.
"A bad day at the office," Nick Mangold called it.
Woody Johnson's Jets have the funniest way of leading the league in those.
In a parity sport centered around the notion that everyone shares everything and spends what the next owner spends, Johnson has a payroll sitting $21 million under the salary cap in New York. Again, in New York. No matter how often he talks about rebuilding through the draft and saving cash for developing young stars, Johnson can't get away with his fiscal approach any more than the Wilpons can get away with theirs at Citi Field.
The Jets have very little talent or depth, especially at the playmaking positions, a fact that has amplified Ryan's weaknesses on game day. Idzik had a terrible draft last spring, and his moves across the board have actually encouraged conspiracy theorists to suggest he was trying to chop-block his head coach to clear a path for his own guy.
Hard to believe that one. But then again, it's hard to believe Idzik thought the likes of Dimitri Patterson could help the Jets more than the cornerback Ryan wanted, Darrelle Revis.
Idzik could've had Revis -- last seen shutting down A.J. Green for the Belichicks and Bradys on Sunday night -- for $4 million less than Tampa Bay paid him last year and instead let him sign with a New England team that has won the Jets' division 11 times in the past 13 seasons. Johnson told reporters last week that he put no restrictions on Idzik's spending, meaning the GM either didn't want Revis or didn't want to upset an owner who was sick of dealing with Revis' agents.
Not that it matters. If Johnson didn't help his team and his coach because of bruises suffered in past negotiations, shame on him for not understanding the price of doing business. And if Idzik decided Revis couldn't play at a high level anymore, shame on Johnson again for hiring a GM with no track record of making personnel decisions.
Idzik could've outbid the Giants for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to help ease the Revis-to-Patriots sting -- and didn't. He could've drafted or signed an explosive wideout to take some pressure off Eric Decker, a No. 2 receiver shouldering a No. 1 receiver's burdens -- and didn't.
Only the odds of the Jets getting embarrassed are significantly better than the odds of the Jets picking it up.
"I think the team and the coaches, they've fallen short, that's for sure," Johnson said with his team at 1-3. "But they've been in every game."
He can't make that claim anymore, not after Smith did his damnedest to top the Mark Sanchez Buttfumble. Saturday night, the quarterback Johnson praised as a franchise player-to-be scrambled from the movie theater to his team's meeting room after realizing his personal West Coast system wasn't clicking with the Jets' East Coast schedule. Ryan credited Smith for "hustling in."
It was the last time a Jet was seen hustling all weekend.
As it stands now, this team would be best served finishing 3-13, landing the No. 1 pick and turning the whole operation over to a potential star like Oregon's Marcus Mariota. But until then, Jets fans deserve so much better than what their undisciplined team is giving them.
You could see this coming, too, after Johnson forced the Ryan-Idzik marriage and then extended it last season after the final game at Miami, using an 8-8 finish and a third straight non-playoff year as the occasion to retain Rex in an absurdly emotional locker room scene.
"You'd think we won the Super Bowl," the rookie quarterback, Smith, said that day.
Would Robert Kraft or John Mara or Paul Allen have acted like that at 8-8? The answer would be the same to this question:
Geno Smith apologized over and over, and Rex Ryan accepted all the blame for the blowout loss, and John Idzik did whatever camera-shy executives do when their rosters look as lame as his does. But these are Woody Johnson's people and that is Woody Johnson's culture and this is Woody Johnson's team.
In other words, this is Woody Johnson's mess.