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If Jets don’t want Rex Ryan, TV will take him

Rex Ryan is occasionally buffoonish, but he’s also generally regarded as a pretty good football coach.Barry Chin/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Being a certified character as an NFL player or coach doesn't help job security. But it certainly helps in securing a job once the days on the sideline or field are temporarily or permanently over.

The most recent reminder of such came to mind when the Jets showed up at Gillette Stadium Thursday in their standard state of amusing chaos. It's far from a consensus in our New England neighborhoods, but the strong belief in this space is that Rex Ryan ranks among the top half of head coaches in the NFL, maybe even in the top 10.

Ending the 14-2 Patriots season on their own turf in the 2010 Divisional Playoffs — less than six weeks after his Jets' humiliating 42-point loss to Tom Brady and Co. — is the kind of victory that gives sustained credibility to even an occasionally buffoonish coach like Ryan.

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Sure, during his six-plus seasons as the Jets' head coach, his teams have demonstrated a remarkable tendency to self-destruct, and with a 1-6 record this season after their crushing 27-25 loss to the Patriots, that self-destruction is under way early this year. Given that his team is lousy, he's in the last year of his contract, and he wasn't hired by current general manager John Idzik, the end of Ryan's reign has been foreshadowed for some time now.

Suffice to say he's not going to salvage these Jets-with-square-wheels like he did after that Week 13 blowout in Foxborough in 2010. After watching Ryan's team let its last potential turning point, that last hope, get swatted to the ground by the Patriots' Chris Jones, the inevitability of his situation made one wonder what's next.

But such wondering doesn't last long.

Ryan is a character.

When the Jets let him go, TV will take him in.

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This has been a common expectation since at least November 2012, when Sports Illustrated media columnist Richard Deitsch queried NFL television executives regarding which players and coaches would make good broadcasters.

It's a fascinating list to look back upon. A couple of those who were coveted have become analysts, including Ed Reed (Showtime's "Inside the NFL"), Tony Gonzalez (CBS's "The NFL Today"), David Diehl (Fox color analyst), and Ray Lewis (the all-style, no-substance resident hypocrite on ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown').

Others who were cited are still occupied with their active NFL careers. Among them: Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo … and Ryan.

It should be noted that those who seem as though they'll be naturals for television often take some time to succeed. While Gonzalez has been outstanding on "The NFL Today" this year — at least when Boomer Esiason permits him to get a word in — Bart Scott has sometimes seemed the afterthought among the cast.

The ex-linebacker is opinionated, charismatic, and articulate, but it's been a struggle for him to find his niche. Perhaps a breakthrough came Sunday, when he offered the second-strongest comment I heard on any of the studio shows during the day.

"The story with any Peyton Manning team is if you hit them in the mouth and be physical with them off the jump, they will fold,'' Scott said. "Seattle uses that formula, and San Francisco is built to do the same thing."

The strongest comment on Sunday's shows? That was delivered on "Sunday NFL Countdown" by Cris Carter. In his early seasons as an analyst, Carter came across as little more than the self-appointed spokesman for former teammate Randy Moss. But this year, as the league has dealt with one awful off-the-field issue after another, Carter has become a passionate voice demanding personal accountability among the players. He was on point again Sunday in discussing the behavioral issues that contributed to the Seahawks' decision to trade Percy Harvin.

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"For any player that has previous issues, there is always a moment in time that you get the chance to change or alter your history. It is all in your hand,'' said Carter, who overcame his own issues during his Hall of Fame career. "There is always a fork, right on the road, that stops you, and you have the opportunity to either go left and go about doing things your own way, or to go right and make the right decisions and try to do something special with your life."

This particular fork is taking Harvin to the Jets, who acquired the overpaid, injury-prone alleged malcontent Friday, or at least one day and one game too late.

A savior for the Jets? Someone who might help save Ryan's job? That would be an upset.

It's hard to believe Harvin's arrival will do anything but hasten Ryan's inevitable detour from the sideline to the studio.


Chad Finn can be reached at finn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeChadFinn.

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