FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Woody Johnson decided to completely clean house.
The New York Jets owner fired coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik on Monday after one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history.
With the Jets (4-12) failing to make the postseason for the fourth straight season, Johnson opted to start fresh with a new coach and GM.
Ryan was 50-52, including 4-2 in the postseason in his six seasons with the Jets. His first few years were filled with guarantees, bold statements and two consecutive trips to the AFC title game. But in the end, there were not enough wins to back up all the big talk.
Idzik lasted just two seasons after replacing the fired Mike Tannenbaum in 2013. He was heavily criticized this year for questionable decisions in the NFL draft and in free agency.
Now, the Jets will be looking for a general manager and coach for the first time since Johnson promoted Tannenbaum and hired Eric Mangini in 2006. Former NFL GM and current NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly is expected to be brought in by Johnson as a consultant to help assist the franchise in making the new hires.
Ryan was retained after last season despite an 8-8 finish, and the fact that he wasn’t Idzik’s handpicked coach when the GM was hired. It was an unusual union, widely criticized in NFL circles, since a condition set by Johnson during the interview process was that the new GM would have to keep Ryan as his coach.
The outgoing Ryan and tight-lipped Idzik made for an odd couple, but they worked through their personality differences to try to put a winning team on the field. Idzik signed Eric Decker, Michael Vick and Chris Johnson last offseason, but whiffed on a few others such as Mike Goodson and Dimitri Patterson. His trade of cornerback Darrelle Revis when he was hired, and the team not actively pursuing him last offseason was a point of contention among fans, especially as the Jets struggled in the secondary this season.
Idzik’s draft picks have also been widely criticized since only six of his 19 selections in his two years — Sheldon Richardson, Geno Smith, Oday Aboushi, Calvin Pryor, Jace Amaro and Trevor Reilly — have played regularly this season. Five are no longer even on the team.
The Jets won their season opener against Oakland, but then lost eight straight and Geno Smith was benched after struggling mightily to start his second NFL season. A midseason trade for Percy Harvin came a bit too late as the team dropped out of the playoff picture.
Fans began to grow increasingly frustrated — with a lot of their criticisms aimed at Idzik. The general manager’s midseason news conference in which he rambled at times during a 19-minute opening statement did little to win over disgruntled fans.
A few flew banners above the team’s practice facility, urging Johnson to fire the GM, while others started a website and received donations to put up billboards near MetLife Stadium and distribute yellow towels to further the cause in hopes the Jets would make wholesale changes.
They got their wish.
Ryan’s tenure with the Jets was often entertaining as his daily news conferences during his first few years became must-see events with his wisecracks and constant praise of his team, particularly his defense, and his grand promises for the franchise. The moment he took the podium when he was introduced as coach in 2009, he cracked that with as many media there, he thought the president was behind him — and then intimated that his team would meet him someday soon as Super Bowl champions.
That brash approach was a refreshing change from the tightlipped tenure of Mangini and excited a Jets fan base hungry for someone to deliver a Lombardi Trophy it hadn’t won since Joe Namath made good on his guarantee in 1969.
It never happened for Ryan.
He did come close, though, finishing a game away both in 2009 and 2010 with a young quarterback in Mark Sanchez, a dominant defense led by Revis and a handful of other stars including Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, LaDainian Tomlinson, Jason Taylor and Antonio Cromartie.
But he couldn’t parlay that early success into a Super Bowl trip.
There were plenty of distractions during Ryan’s tenure, too, with his team often labeled a “circus” by fans and media for the seemingly ever-present drama that surrounded it, particularly during the first few years.
But Ryan helped make the Jets a relevant franchise, one of the most talked-about teams in the NFL. Now, Johnson will try to make them a winner again — with a new coach and general manager.