If this was the last game for New York Jets coach Rex Ryan and quarterback Geno Smith, they went out in style with a 37-24 victory over the Dolphins on Sunday at Sun Life Stadium.
Rumors have been rampant that Ryan, who led the Jets to two consecutive AFC title games before missing the playoffs the past four years, will be fired by Monday.
Jets general manager John Idzik, highly unpopular in New York for some disastrous personnel moves, is rumored gone, too, and some reports say that it may be left to a new GM to decide Ryan’s fate.
“I’m not going to get into my situation,” Ryan said when asked about his job status. “It’s not about me. I’m proud to be the head coach of this team.
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“The last time I checked, I’m under contract, so whatever happens, happens.”
The Jets finished the season 4-12, and much of their problems can be traced to their quarterback play. Smith, who was 2-10 as a starter this season, lost his job to Michael Vick after a dreadful performance against Buffalo on Oct. 26.
Smith went 2 of 8 for 5 yards and had three interceptions in that game. But when Vick failed to do much better, Smith got his job back.
On Sunday, Smith had the best performance of his two-year career. The former Miramar High star — who grew up within minutes of Sun Life Stadium — completed 20 of 25 passes for a career-high 358 yards and three touchdowns.
He was not intercepted and his passer rating was perfect — 158.3.
Smith, who was ridiculed a couple of weeks ago for saying he has shown “flashes” of being a Pro Bowl passer, was asked about that statement after Sunday’s game.
“When I talk about my improvement and where I need to go as a player, what I was speaking on was just being more consistent,” said Smith, who also beat the Dolphins here last season and is now 2-0 at Sun Life Stadium.
“I just wanted to play a clean game and be consistent, but that is a work in progress.”
Smith has been far from consistent this season.
In fact, he passed for less than 100 yards four times this season. Even in Sunday’s stellar performance, Smith reminded observers of “Bad Geno” when he tried a bootleg run, held the ball loosely in his left hand and lost a fumble at the Jets’ 21.
“That was pitiful,” Smith said.
Smith hasn’t always been that accountable about his miscues, and even Ryan took a playful jab at his quarterback on Sunday.
“I’d like to see him protect the ball better,” Ryan said. “So I’ll take that jab at him.”
Just what happens now with the Jets is a mystery. It seems unlikely that Ryan or Idzik survives, and it is just about a lock that the Jets will either pick a quarterback high in the draft or make a move for a veteran.
Smith has to know this.
“A ton of adversity,” Smith said when asked to sum up the season. “But the way we stuck together says a lot about this team.”
Ryan, who is normally extremely upbeat after a win, was a bit muted on Sunday because of his uncertain job status. Of the 17 questions asked of Ryan by the media, 11 had to do with whether he will coach the Jets next season.
Does Ryan deserve another chance to coach the Jets?
“You know, again, I don’t want to take away from the effort of those players,” Ryan said.
“It’s not about me. I don’t think this is the appropriate time to talk about my situation.”
At one point, Ryan finally delivered some of his customary bluster and confidence.
“Just understand this: I’m not afraid of anything,” he said. “I’m not afraid of what lies ahead.”