It hardly was shocking, but the firing of Jets coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik on Monday left the team's players with a deep sense of sorrow.
With a 4-12 record and a fourth straight season without a playoff appearance, "the writing was on the wall," as center Nick Mangold said. Still, knowing weeks ago that an organizational overhaul likely was inevitable didn't make it any easier to accept when Jets owner Woody Johnson made it official.
"We kind of knew this day was coming, but it's hard to deal with right now," quarterback Geno Smith said. "It's hard on all of us."
That's because of how much they admired Ryan, the boisterous coach who led the Jets for six seasons and restored the team to relevance with AFC Championship Game appearances in his first two years.
"It was definitely challenging to hear," tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson said. "Today is kind of a hard day. Especially to have the season that we had and then to end it with this, it's real challenging."
Ryan immediately endeared himself to Jets players and fans when he mentioned winning a Super Bowl during his introductory news conference. Counting the playoffs, the Jets were 50-52 under Ryan. Though he never did win that Super Bowl, Ryan is the only coach in franchise history to lead the Jets to the conference championship game in two straight years.
"We had some great highs and we had some great lows," said Mangold, who has spent nine seasons with the team. "And I appreciated every moment."
Ryan had a final team meeting Monday that featured a short video showing highlights from his six seasons.
"He's a very passionate coach," Ferguson said. "He put his heart on the line and did his best. I think that's all you can do in this business."
Ferguson said he "most definitely" believes Ryan will find another head-coaching job in the league. "He's definitely a head coach," he said. "All the players here love him and I think wherever he goes, he'll be adored."
Idzik, who was fired after only two seasons, did not address the team, but Smith said he spoke with him. Idzik drafted Smith in 2013.
"John's a tough guy, he's very strong," Smith said. "He's always told me he believed in me and vice versa; I believe in him as well. He gave me an opportunity here in New York and I appreciate him for it."
Mangold, Ferguson and Smith said they understand the business side of the game. The firing of a coach is part of that, but Ryan's firing still stung. "I think everybody had the same emotion," Ferguson said, "a feeling of sadness, a feeling of loss."