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Greenberg: Navigating the Shoals Ahead

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on represent those of individual authors, and, unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the New York Jets organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Jets officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

Who would deny Rex Ryan, tattooed by the 49ers, Texans, Dolphins and Chargers, the need to get away from it all after a 6-10 season? The Jets' 2012 season was no day at the beach.

We just hope the coach didn't roast too long on the Bahamian sand. Our concern is that Ryan's epiphany about an attacking offense actually may have been a manifestation of heat exhaustion.

The Jets had the third-worst offense statistically in the NFL last season. They will be bringing in somebody else's second-stringer to compete with a quarterback who last season threw 18 interceptions and completed only 54 per cent of his passes.

A pinstriped shirt finally, blessedly, saved Rex's chest from further prying lenses Tuesday, when we were reminded that because all these hires still are pending, there never had been any urgency for a postseason press conference. Johnson wouldn't talk about the GM search or his decision to release Mike Tannenbaum, and Tony Sparano was praised to high heaven by Ryan out the door.

They both deserve to work again in the NFL, so we understand. Nevertheless, it still was a little late for the Panama hat that perhaps could have saved the return of the brash 2009 Rex from himself.

"We are going to be a dangerous football team," he said. "You are not going to want to play the Jets."

At least he believes he's going to be around for a few years to see this vision — we'll be kind and not call it a hallucination — come to fruition. There will be wiggle room when some veterans are released or forced to renegotiate, but it is hard to conceive enough immediate changes to upgrade this offense dramatically.

That said, we will take the long-term view: So far, so good on all the Jets decisions over the past 10 days. To fire a coach who lost both his best offensive and defensive player early in his first losing season out of four would have been draconian, even masochistic, considering the body of Ryan's work as a defensive coordinator in Baltimore and as a head coach here.

Sid Gillman, and Don Coryell as offensive coordinator, would have produced the 30th-rated offense in the league last season with this personnel. Ryan has gotten the Jets to two AFC title games, beaten Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in playoff games, and even without Darrelle Revis had a respectable defense in 2012. Johnson had more reasons than just the $6 million remaining on Ryan's contract to keep him.

A new offensive coordinator and quarterback coach are needed, however. Mark Sanchez was so wildly inconsistent from throw to throw that fundamental footwork had to be a factor, whether or not the incumbent survives by default as the starter next season.

All-weather? Ground-and-pound? Whatever the revisionist Ryan wants to call what the Jets have been running on offense over four years, Sparano was brought in to run the offense Ryan desired and did so. But there was little creativity with the Wildcat and if Ryan truly wants to open it up, there are other coordinators available with a track record for doing so.

Today's NFL calls for a throwing offense. However late, good for Ryan for wanting to implement one. But the Jets need a quarterback to run it, so this is a broken cart Rex is putting in front of the horse. However you feel about whether Ryan should or shouldn't have been retained, he won't last unless he gets an elite quarterback. No coach does.

Above all, it is always about the quarterback. If the Jets had a good one, Matt Cavanaugh would be a guru, not unemployed. If Sanchez had lit it up over three years or was on the verge of doing so, a conservative Sparano never have been brought in. Otherwise, Ryan, a successful gambler with his defenses, would have been inclined to let it fly on offense, too.

If Sanchez were panning out, Mike Tannenbaum, who produced two AFC finalists, still would be GM of the Jets. He lost his job largely because he paid the wrong quarterback. And unless the new GM finds the right one, he will be moving on in a few years, too, whether or not he and Ryan find they can happily coexist.

"There are some things we can do with the cap," said Johnson. "There are some obvious things to get us down into a pretty good position, so I think the flexibility of the general manager is great.

"As Mike used to say, 'no stone will be left unturned.'"

It's a little odd that the owner is quoting the wisdom of the GM he just fired. But it doesn't matter what he, Ryan, and persons still not hired have to say but what they do. The new GM starts between a rock and a hard place, not because he has to live with a coach already in place but because he could have minimal salary cap room and needs a franchise quarterback in a draft year when there is not one available.

That's a waste of a season that was bad enough to get the Jets the ninth pick, a sickly pale problem that the tan of the rejuvenated Rex can't hide.

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