There’s only one thing in the way of the new regime of the New York Jets and the playoffs. His name is Rex Ryan.
What followed was extreme conversation about the legitimacy of the Ryan-era in New York in conjunction with the fairness for which he was shown the door. Many Jets fans fell in love with the guy, and quite frankly argued that very few coaches could lead such a talent-less John Idzik squad to success.
Fast forward to December of 2015 and the conversation is dead.
The love affair the city of Buffalo had with its new boisterous head-man is done. It was gone as quickly as Rex pounded his first beer with Bills’ great Jim Kelly.
Taking one of the top defenses in the NFL last season and a talent base who finished 9-7 under Doug Marrone, Ryan has set the franchise back. At 7-8 the Bills can only avoid finishing with a losing record should they capture victory in Week 17.
And what a Week 17 matchup it will be.
As they should be, NFL match-makers are surely patting themselves on the back tonight. Should the Todd Bowles’s New York Jets go into Orchard Park, NY next week and defeat Rex Ryan’s Buffalo Bills, the Jets will be NFL Playoff bound.
What remains to be seen is what else (aside from the kitchen sink) Rex will throw the Jets way in his lowly version of the Super Bowl in 2015.
In relation to the Rex side of the story, the brutal one, comes the Mike Maccaganan-Todd Bowles sunny side.
Despite the love affair the owner, the organization, and fans alike had for Ryan, Mike Mac and Bowles came in with a quiet chip on their shoulders. Maccaganan didn’t waste any time. He quickly used the access of salary cap money at his disposal and turned an average talent base into a contender.
Snaring Brandon Marshall for a fifth-round draft pick; drafting Leonard Williams No. 6 overall; bringing back the Jets best defensive player of all-time in Darrelle Revis; coming through on low-key, yet very important under-the-radar signings in Buster Skrine and Marcus Gilchrist; and most importantly bringing in Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chan Gailey; Maccagnan quickly established himself as an elite executive in the league that plays for pay.
Bowles, the unassuming one, remained even-keeled regardless of the situation. Whether it was the fast 4-1 start to the season, or losing 4-of-5 games highlighted by a disaster in Houston, the Jets rookie head coach has slowly but surely erased any Rex backers who were crawling on his program.
Even today, after Eric Decker hauled in that six-yard touchdown pass to win the game against the great Tom Brady, Bill Belihick and the New England Patriots, you wouldn’t have known which team won while watching Bowles in the post-game press conference.
Bowles’s professionalism has shined so brightly that its transformed an organization from the tagline of “the circus is in town” to much respected professionals. Some might argue that tagline has now shifted in the Metropolitan area, now plaguing Odell Beckham Jr. and the boys in blue.
This buttoned-up approach is lost on the former Jets head coach who boastfully did this on his team’s sideline following his team’s victory at MefLife Stadium in Week 10:
— NFL (@NFLIive) November 13, 2015
He also had this to say during the post-game press conference:
Very telling is the fact Rex’s Bills have gone backwards since Marrone’s version a season ago. Moreover, when reflecting about a Jets season in which most picked them to finish last in the AFC East – as the Miami Dolphins and these Bills were the flavors of the preseason within the AFC East – it’s now safely time to say Woody Johnson and company made the right moves in getting real football people in the right positions to lead this team for the long-haul.
Bowles and Mikey Mac don’t care about TV time, crowd rising, and beauty points. They don’t care about making a grand entrance into the city or coming up with catch Super Bowl predicting slogans. All they care about is the bottom line – one that is only fulfilled when enough wins are accumulated.
For the New York Jets organization, the last calendar season has already been a raging success. But a win against Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills next Sunday will put the emphatic stamp of approval on the new and successful New York Jets
What better way to do so than beat the attention-seeking character they replaced?
The circus is no longer in town.