IT'S THE COACHING
Be honest. You wouldn't have been surprised if it took the Jets the whole season to win five games. Perhaps, they would have gotten there by October of 2014.
Instead, entering their bye week, the Jets are at 5-4. Despite the obvious flaws in their roster, they'd be in the playoffs if the season ended today. That's why Rex Ryan deserves a contract extension.
The Jets, frankly, should not be above .500 at this point, yet they've been able to beat some of the league's best teams, including the Patriots, and most recently the Saints.
A team that shouldn't be winning, is. That's a sign of good coaching.
Gang Green has been able to achieve this despite shaky play from their offense. For all of Geno Smith's bright moments, he's also been a turnover machine with five multiple-interception games thus far. On a week-to-week basis, the Jets haven't been sure what they're going to get from their quarterback.
At receiver, the Jets have been without Santonio Holmes, their top playmaker, for five weeks. They have lost Jeremy Kerley, Kellen Winslow and Jeff Cumberland at different times. It's not easy to score points when you keep losing receivers to injuries, yet the Jets have seemingly found a way to do just enough.
The reason the Jets have been able to overcome these offensive deficiencies is their stout defense, which once again is playing like one of the best units in the NFL. Obviously, that's Ryan's bread and butter. You can see the great job he and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman have done.
Before the season, there was the general perception the Jets were one of the worst teams in the NFL, and would contend for the No. 1 pick in the draft. Now, they're vying for a playoff spot. That's quite a turnaround, and that's due to Ryan.
Give the man an extension.
Matt Ehalt is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com
When Rex Ryan was introduced as HC of NYJ on Jan. 21, 2009, he said, "My goal is to win a Super Bowl."
He made note of all the cameras, joked that new president Barack Obama - just sworn in the day before -- must be there, and then predicted, "I think we'll get to meet him in the next couple years anyway."
Well, Obama is in the first year of his second term, and the Jets have yet to play in the big game, let alone earn a trip to the White House.
So why hand Rex a contract extension right now?
His first two seasons were promising. Two AFC Championship Game appearances are nothing to sneeze at. But the Jets have missed the playoffs the past two years, including stumbling to a 6-10 finish in 2012.
Has Rex a done a nice job thus far in 2013? No doubt. But let's not get carried away. The Jets are one game above .500, and got a couple of very lucky breaks against the Buccaneers and Patriots.
The team also has seven more games to play -- this season could still go south.
As things stand, the Jets would sneak into the playoffs as a No. 6 seed. And that might be good enough to buy Rex some more time in the minds of Woody Johnson, John Idzik and many fans, at the end of the season.
But it's certainly not good enough to buy him some midway through.
Rex is the one who set the bar so high when he took this job back in 2009.
He hasn't lived up to it -- at least, not yet.
Kieran Darcy is a staff writer for ESPNNewYork.com