Before Woody Johnson's team took the field Sunday afternoon in South Florida, the Jets CEO and GM John Idzik informed Rex Ryan that he would return as head coach for the 2014 season.
"This is the start of something really big for the New York Jets. We have a young team that is on the ascent, that is going to get even better next year," Johnson said after Ryan led the Jets to a 20-7 stomping of the Dolphins. "We've got another year with Rex and his staff and I think it's really going to be good. I'm very, very hopeful."
Idzik, who was hired last January, has enjoyed working with Ryan since Day 1.
"Rex and I have had a tremendous rapport," he said. "Really there was not much doubt. I know there was a lot of speculation, but the feeling we had inside was this was a pretty good pair."
Players had voiced their public support for Ryan in recent weeks. In five seasons, Ryan has led the Green & White to a 46-40 mark including four postseason victories. When Johnson told the players of his plans in the visitors' locker room, a spontaneous celebration erupted.
"It was good to hear from him. But when he says something, everyone listens," said veteran OLB Calvin Pace of Johnson. "It was the perfect time for it. He said he was proud of us and Rex would be back."
"It was a jubilant locker room. Every guy in that locker room was ecstatic, just jumping around, grabbing one another," added rookie quarterback Geno Smith. "You would think we had won a Super Bowl. To have our head coach back — a guy we enjoy playing for — is great."
Ryan had repeatedly told people that his team was on the climb and they looked the part Sunday. By dismantling a club that had routed the Jets to start the month, the Green & White secured back-to-back victories for the first time this season and completed their first winning quarter of 2013.
"I'm proud of our guys and I've been proud of them the whole season. This is a team that really came together," Ryan said. "We know what everybody thought of us before the season and everything else, but this team tried to hit the field with a purpose every day and that was to get better. I think it's a close group, a close team and I'm proud to be their coach."
The Jets will clean out their lockers Monday as they failed to reach the postseason for a third consecutive year. But they have momentum heading into the new year and Rex Ryan will look to continue to make strides with a talented, young club.
"We think we're a team on the rise. We believe we're a team getting better as we get more experience and to have that guy back in that locker room means a lot to us," Smith said.
"I love that man to death. If he needed both of my arms, I would give them to him," added fellow rookie Sheldon Richardson.