This offseason, the Jets were NFL laughingstocks. They were coming off a six-win season, the Tim Tebow experiment had blown up in their face, Mark Sanchez was somehow worse than imagined, their best player had been traded to the Buccaneers, and the general manager and offensive coordinator were fired.
But coach Rex Ryan remained, much to the irritation of plenty of fans who felt he was more problem that solution. But nearly two months into the season and the Jets are 4-3, just a game out of first place in the AFC East after last Sunday's win over the Patriots.
And owner Woody Johnson remains supportive of his coach.
"We're happy with Rex," Johnson said, via the New York Daily News. "Coaches have to be good teachers and good leaders and I think he's both."
We've long figured that Ryan would be gone after the season. Partly because there was no way this Jets outfit would be better than last year's train wreck, but also because new general manager John Idzik was hired with the stipulation that he couldn't fire Ryan in 2013. Once December gave way to January, Ryan would be looking for work.
That was our theory, anyway.
But the Jets have been a pleasant surprise and Ryan deserves much of the credit. His deal runs through 2014, but the owner wouldn't comment on whether a contract extension was in Ryan's future.
"I will make a statement after the season," Johnson said. "I never make any comments regarding contracts during the season. ... The only thing I'll say is I'm happy with him. I think he's a great teacher, a good teacher, maybe a great teacher and a good leader."
Presumably, Idzik will have some say on whether Ryan stays or goes but ultimately, that decision rests with Johnson, who in May pleaded for patience from a disgruntled fan base.
"Be patient, be patient, have trust that we're doing the right thing for your team, we're trying to do the right thing for your team," Johnson said at the time. "That's why John [Idzik] was brought in and the other coaching changes were made; to make us more competitive."
And way back in January, days after the Jets put the finishing touches on that forgettable 6-10 effort, Ryan warned that the 2013 version of this team would have to be reckoned with.
"We are going to be a dangerous football team," he said. "I can promise you that. How many wins and all that, I don't know. But I'm gonna tell you: You're not gonna want to play the New York Jets."
And through seven weeks, not only have the Jets been impressive, they've done it with an offense featuring a rookie quarterback and exactly zero legit downfield playmakers. We'll be honest: We never saw this coming. Hats off to you, Rex.