I’m willing to cut Rex Ryan at least a little bit of slack this year. After all, he’s being put into a situation that few head coaches could succeed with.
The Jets’ current problems are many. They’re without offensive weapons, their team has become a lightning rod for negative attention, but biggest of all is the Jets’ lack of a starting quarterback. Geno Smith will be the team’s choice for week one, but beyond that, Rex Ryan isn’t being too definitive.
“Our focus is strictly on this game,” Ryan said Wednesday via NFL.com. “We're not thinking past Tampa, I can tell you that much. This whole team is not thinking past Tampa in anything. We have a big challenge in front of us. We understand that, and that's where the focus is.”
Ryan has good reason to be noncommittal when considering installing Geno Smith’s penchant for making bad decisions. In fact, Matt Simms, who will be Smith’s backup for the opening weekend of the season, may be the only quarterback that has actually shown some promise during the preseason.
With so many quarterback questions, Ryan isn’t giving us any more details beyond opening weekend.
“I'm not going to turn sideways, I can tell you that much, but that question seems familiar to me,” Ryan said. “In all honesty, like we said before, that clearly our focus is strictly on Tampa and we're not looking past Tampa. It doesn't make sense for us to look past Tampa.”
Rex Ryan simply can’t be committal about his trio of ineffective quarterbacks. The Jets are hoping Geno Smith seizes the long-term starting position against the Buccaneers, but if the preseason is any indication, Rex Ryan needs to cover his bases.
So yes, it’s frustrating to see Rex Ryan dodge quarterback questions left and right, but if you were in his position, would there really be a better way to handle the Jets’ current offensive situation. If Ryan names Smith the team’s starter now and he flops, Ryan would be unable to turn back to Sanchez without losing all credibility. By leaving the competition open-ended, Ryan leaves himself one last escape route, although going from Geno Smith to Mark Sanchez may not exactly be moving to greener pastures.