As insane as it appeared on the surface for Rex Ryan to tell his team that he will be fired, it apparently was enough to push his team to a second half surge, as the Jets came back to beat the Cleveland Browns 24-13.
The Jets were led by spirited efforts from running back Chris Ivory, receiver David Nelson, and yes, even Geno Smith in the victory. It also helped that the Browns shot themselves in the foot a number of times.
Once Geno Smith was banged out of bounds on a second and two scamper for a first down, the Jets kicked their energy into a new level. Rex Ryan jumped in front of the sideline official, screaming at him in the face -- and even started jawing at Tashaun Gipson who was flagged for unnecessary roughness. Ryan had to be restrained by his players, and it seemed to ignite a spark.
That moment was the turning point; before it the Jets had done nothing. They watched the Browns move the football with alacrity jumping out to a 10-0 lead. It could have been more, but the Browns decided to go for it on a fourth down and goal, and couldn't convert - a break that came back to bite Cleveland later in the game.
But the roughness on Smith was really what sparked the Jets. They tied the game at 10, and went on to punish the Browns thereafter.
They held Cleveland scoreless in the third quarter, due in part to a key interception by Dee Milliner, who picked off a Jason Campbell pass to set the Jets up in Browns territory. While the Jets ended up missing a field goal on the ensuing drive, the Browns really had nothing to offer to threaten New York.
Once the Jets got the football back they punished Cleveland on a 14 play 73 yard drive engineered by Smith who completed 7-of-8 passes. He was precise with his throws, most of which came out of the shotgun. He hit Jeremy Kerley for 15 yards on a key second down, and later connected with Jeff Cumberland for 18 more.
Smith's biggest throw of the day had to be a 17-yard screen pass to Kerley on third and 13, a play that was totally blown by Cleveland. Finally, Smith found David Nelson in the back of the end zone for the score to make it 17-10.
After Cleveland got a field goal to cut the deficit to four, the Jets were all about converting third downs and eating clock. Smith hit Nelson for 15 on a huge third and ten at the Jets 20 to move the chains. Later Smith hit Nelson for seven more on third and six to move into Cleveland territory. Smith would eventually score his fifth rushing touchdown of the year on a 17-yard scramble to put the game away.
While Smith and offense were efficient, lets keep in mind they were playing the Browns. The Browns have had issues closing games out, especially with a lead. The Browns are a four win team for a reason.
As for Ryan, the victory only creates more confusion about his future. It is amazing how a report about a coach's future can create an even bigger circus. Did he tell his team he's getting the ax? Who was the leak to this story? Will he get the ax if the Jets win in Miami? The Ryan saga creates even more distractions and subplots for New York's final week against Miami.
Some have said that Ryan did a solid job because of the lack of talent on this team. That maybe true, but if Rex Ryan does return to the Jets, it will only confirm another year where we ponder the coach's future. It will echo in more of the same with regard to mediocrity on the field and a circus atmosphere off of it.
If the Jets front office is smart they should not let a victory over the Cleveland Browns cloud their final decision. If they do, then Rex Ryan has succeeded in creating a circus regarding his own future with the franchise.