Jets owner says coach Rex Ryan will return

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 29, 2013 at 5:38 pm •  Published: December 29, 2013
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The coach was eager for his team to atone for a 23-3 loss to the Dolphins on Dec. 1.

"Quite honestly, we owed them," Ryan said. "This team is getting better. This was going to be a proving ground for that. This was a team that whipped us. That was the main driving force."

Smith had been benched during that loss. In the rematch, the rookie led three long scoring drives, ran for a touchdown and threw for 190 yards.

"After the benching, I had to dig deep — a lot of soul-searching, the first time it ever happened to me in my life," he said. "Quite honestly, I don't like it. That was part of the decision-making of the coaches. I just had to continue believing in myself."

Ryan and Idzik will now look forward to building next season's team with plenty of issues to consider, starting with Smith. The Jets must determine whether he can be their quarterback of the future, and whether they'll draft another player to compete with him or sign a proven veteran.

New York will likely part with quarterback Mark Sanchez and receiver Santonio Holmes to save money on the salary cap, and there are several potential key free agents, including right tackle Austin Howard, right guard Willie Colon and kicker Nick Folk.

Expectations were extremely low for this year's team. One major factor was the trade of the Jets' best player — Darrelle Revis — to Tampa Bay, a big blow to Ryan's defense. There was also a dearth of game-changing talent on offense, and an underwhelming yet closely contested quarterback competition between Sanchez and Smith, a second-round draft pick. That was settled only when Sanchez was lost for the year with a shoulder injury in the third preseason game.

New offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was forced to try to develop Smith on the fly. After a solid first few games, Smith became a turnover machine before bouncing back in his last four outings of the season, in which the Jets went 3-1 to finish .500.

Notes: Jets reserve CB Kyle Wilson left the game in the first half with a knee injury and didn't return. ... Rookie Dee Milliner made two interceptions, and 35-year-old Ed Reed added one to prevent a Miami comeback.

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AP Sports Writer Dennis Waszak in New York contributed to this report.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Steve_Wine

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