This thread may sound strange because the Jets knocked us out of the playoffs last year, so obviously Rex Ryan can coach. I think he is an excellent strategist and good motivator (under the right circumstances.) However, after looking at the anguish of Jets fans via their message boards, a though crossed my mind: what if the Jets had kept Eric Mangini and never hired Rex Ryan? Mangini's Jets made the playoffs in 2006 before being knocked out by a much stronger Patriots team. In 2007, they struggled mightily, but after adding Favre in 2008, they became one of the NFL's best teams. Favre injured his shoulder and the team collapsed down the stretch. Numerous reports came out that Mangini's players did not like him. He was fired immediately after the 2008 season. A Closer Look I've always thought that coaches should be given 4-5 years to prove themselves, as it gives them better leverage over players and gives them a true opportunity to implement their system and develop the players they've drafted. In the case of Mangini, consider the talent that he drafted over three years: D'Brickashaw Ferguson Nick Mangold Darrelle Revis Dustin Keller David Harris Leon Washington Brad Smith Eric Smith Drew Coleman (sixth round role player) Dwight Lowery (third round role player) Mangini is often given the notorious distinction of having drafted Vernon Gholston, but frankly, that three year lineup of draft picks, even including Gholston, compares favorably to any team in the NFL. Mangini clearly had a vision when building the Jets, and it appears that he ruled the team with an iron fist. Could it have been only a matter of time before this team started to pop and the players started to believe in him? Few question Mangini's brilliance in gameplanning and preparation. One wonders if this team would have reached their potential with Mangini's players. Considering the Jets had poor quarterback play, a very young roster, and a completely new philosophy from 2006-08, I don't think two winning seasons out of three is that bad. But the Jets moved on. On To Rex Ryan I would compare the move from Mangini to Ryan as similar to the move from Parcells to Carroll. Not in terms of coaching prowess, but in terms of style. It is obvious that the Jets' upper management caved to its players, preferring a "player's coach" who would not be so strict, have a more loose style, and essentially treat his players like kings. Although Ryan is credited with installing the Ravens defense, a blitz-happy, complicated scheme that results in lots of turnovers and few completions, the personnel was clearly in place when he took over. Ryan brought in high-priced free agents, such as Bart Scott, but the cornerstone of Revis and Harris, along with a lot of good role players, made Ryan's accomplishments seem more bloated than they actually were. But although Ryan's success was truly built upon the savy talent evaluation and vision of Mangini, Rex is often credited with building that team. What did Rex actually do? He signed Bart Scott to huge contract that proved to be, at best, a push in terms of salary cap, although many would argue the Jets lost that one (and Rex was bailed out by the CBA situation.) He traded multiple draft picks to move up and draft Mark Sanchez in the first round, a player who appears to be, at best, the third best quarterback in the draft. 2009 was also one of the worst years for quarterbacks, in terms of depth. He brought in multiple players with attitude issues with their previous teams, including Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, and Antonio Cromartie. Although decent short-term solutions, each one of them has proven to be regrettable long-term. Holmes and Cromartie are currently in the dog house, despite having gotten huge contracts. He released multiple players with high character that were valued by Mangini, including Thomas Jones, Washington, and Jerricho Cotchery. Ryan has leaned on Mangini's draft picks, including Ferguson, Mangold, Revis, and Harris, while producing almost nothing on his own besides short-term veteran solutions. While Ryan's notable moves include Tomlinson, Cromartie, Holmes, Scott, and Leonard, it's hard to argue that any of these free agents have been "a bargain." As for the draft, while Mangini's evaluations proved to be elite, the following are Ryan's contributions over a three-year draft period: Sanchez Greene Slauson Ducasse Greene Conner McKnight Kerley Wilkerson Ellis While McKnight was a pro-bowl selection as a punt returner, it's hard to imagine that any of these other picks will prove to be valuable NFL commodities, with the exception of Wilkerson and Ellis, who are both unknowns for at least another year. McKnight was supposed to be a third-down back, though, and so far he is not in the class of Danny Woodhead, the guy they released to keep McKnight on the roster. Greene is a decent running back but hardly an impressive "crown jewel" over three years. Sanchez is obviously the biggest bust on this list for his expectations and cost. Mangini the reason for success? It certainly appears that the Jets, now with a complete dearth of young talent, in salary cap hell, and a blown up chemistry lab, are scraping to find answers. Is it possible that Rex Ryan's philosophy is simply naive, overly simplistic, and not competitive in the NFL? Ryan values big-name recognition and physical talent above all else, which has proven to be disastrous in bringing in talent, whereas Mangini is a student of Belichick. Mangini's draft picks were often booed in New York, though they've proven to be great calls. When Mangini left the Jets, they were in outstanding shape, regardless of whether the experts knew it. They had a strong core of young players who were just entering their prime, a coach who was still developing his system and ruled the team with an iron fist, and were in good shape in terms of the salary cap. It appears they were a good quarterback away from being a true Super Bowl contender for years to come. If this theory is correct, you will see the Jets unravel as the years go on, victims of bad drafting, overpaying, and terrible talent evaluation. Ryan appears to be committed to the free agent market as his primary fountain to replenish the roster, a strategy which has proven fatal to every team that's tried it. This draft will be interesting, as the Jets now find themselves desperate for cheap, young talent. If they strike out again, my guess is this will Ryan's last year, and the Jets fans will be wishing they'd never fired Eric Mangini.