DETROIT -- Almost two months ago, Rex Ryan put it out there, predicting he'd get fired if he failed to right the season. Since then, the New York Jets are 1-5, which makes it an easy decision for owner Woody Johnson.
Ryan has reached his expiration date with the Jets.
It doesn't matter if you're pro-Rex or anti-Rex, because the conclusion is inevitable: Ryan is done. He has given his boss no reason to believe they can salvage some respectability from the season. If there was any hope of saving his job, it was crushed Monday night at Ford Field, where the Jets were thoroughly embarrassed by the Buffalo Bills 38-3.
They were overmatched by a displaced team that battled a week of distractions, the result of a devastating snowstorm in western New York. Practice, who needs practice? The Bills played inspired football; the Jets played with no heart and no clue. Quite frankly, they played like a team that knows its coach is doomed. The "Save Rex" mantra, which seemed real a year ago, has been reduced to empty bravado.
Ryan knows he's toast, and it's sad in a way because this rotten season isn't all his fault. The coach who once guaranteed a Super Bowl stood at the podium after the latest debacle, and the only thing he could guarantee is that he'll have a job through Dec. 28.
"I know for a fact, unless it changes drastically, that I will be the head coach for the next five weeks," Ryan said. "That's what I know."
Johnson has no choice but to make a change because the season has turned sideways on the Jets, who dropped to 2-9. Yes, it's a flawed roster -- and that is general manager John Idzik's fault -- but there's no excuse for the product on the field. The Jets committed dumb penalties, allowed a season-high seven sacks, surrendered a touchdown on a blocked punt and managed only one -- one! -- trip inside the red zone. Naturally, they blew that, setting for a field goal after a first-and-goal from the 4. It got so bad that Ryan actually turned to Geno Smith in the third quarter, benching an utterly ineffective Michael Vick.
The Jets actually entered the game with some optimism, enjoying a feel-good bye week after upsetting the Pittsburgh Steelers. They made you think that maybe, with Vick galvanizing the offense, they could make a little run, finish with five or six wins and create a case for Ryan to keep his job.
Ryan, in what turned out to be another foot-in-mouth moment, claimed they had improved "a zillion ways" from their Week 8 blowout loss to the Bills. How does that statement look now? It's laughable. Not only are they mathematically eliminated, their fourth straight season out of the playoffs, but they've checked out mentally. Clearly, the win over the Steelers was a cadaveric spasm.
"I guess we weren't a zillion times better," said Ryan, who hasn't lost his flair for gallows humor. "Horrible performance. We couldn't do anything. We couldn't block, we couldn't tackle. Just an awful performance. I'm the guy responsible for that."
Frankly, it looked like the players gave up. This is an old-school comparison, but this performance was reminiscent of the 1994 finale, when some players quit on Pete Carroll in a 24-10 loss to the Houston Oilers. A few days later, he was fired.
"We never made plays," Ryan insisted, "but we didn't quit."
They were outhit and outhustled by the Bills, who played with a purpose. Credit their coach, Doug Marrone, who rallied his team through the adversity. The Jets went the other way, folding up like intimidated kids.
"Until our level of execution and our sense of urgency on the field matches our opponent, you're going to have outcomes like this," guard Willie Colon said.
"I didn't get drafted to lose games, period," he said. "If it don't hurt nobody like it hurts me, they shouldn't be on the team."
Richardson made a passionate plea for Ryan to keep his job. Under the right circumstances, Ryan was a good coach for the Jets. He almost brought them to a Super Bowl -- twice. But this season got away from him, and he failed to bring it back.
"At this point, I'm not counting wins and losses," wide receiver Jeremy Kerley said. "You judge guys by their heart and how they finish out. It's tough. It's frustrating. It's aggravating."
If their goal was to save Rex, they failed miserably. This was as bad as it's ever been, and you get five more weeks of lousy football before Woody Johnson puts him out of his misery.