MIAMI -- Despite three straight seasons out of the playoffs, Rex Ryan was granted a reprieve and will return to the New York Jets in 2014.
Jets owner Woody Johnson made the announcement after Sunday's 20-7 victory over the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. Johnson said both he and general manager John Idzik broke the news to Ryan before pregame warmups.
After the game, Johnson, in a rare address to the team, told the players in the locker room that Ryan would be back, ending weeks of intense speculation. There was a huge roar, and Ryan was mobbed by several players.
Ryan was choked up, according to several Jets.
"I love being the head coach of the New York Jets, plain and simple," Ryan said. "I never wanted to go out this way, another losing season or something like that."
The team refused to comment on Ryan's contract situation. He has one year remaining on the deal he reworked in 2010, worth about $3 million annually.
It would be unorthodox to have Ryan coach without an extension, which would make him a lame duck. But that scenario was broached during discussions, sources said.
"I'm not going to discuss it," Ryan said. "I have a contract."
The Jets finished 8-8 with Sunday's win, but they exceeded expectations with a young roster devoid of Pro Bowl players. New York won three of its last four games and improved late in the season, especially under rookie quarterback Geno Smith.
Both Johnson and Idzik refused to say the Jets overachieved, although it was apparent they were pleased with the result.
Johnson, in a letter sent to season-ticket holders after Sunday's game, praised Ryan despite the team's "overall up-and-down 2013 performance."
"Rex has more passion than anyone I have ever met," Johnson said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN's Darren Rovell. "Passion for the jets. Passion for teaching and motivating his players and coaches. Passion for winning. Like any NFL Head Coach, he's had ups and downs, but Rex has been a tremendous leader of this football team.
"We're confident that, with the leadership of General Manager John Idzik, working closely with Rex, we will enter 2014 with great opportunities to improve. We have the resources in place to continue to build our team, including more draft picks and roster flexibility than in previous years. In short, we're on the right path. We are going to continue to move forward together, always looking to be better and stronger, building on our successes and learning from our failures."
It was widely assumed that Idzik, who replaced Mike Tannenbaum as general manager last January and was forced to keep Ryan, would hire his own coach after one year on the job. Idzik downplayed that notion, saying he didn't need to be convinced to keep Ryan.
"I always made the assumption we were together from the beginning," Idzik said. "I know there has been speculation through the season, but we always worked together."
In a slip of the tongue, Idzik added: "He's been tremendous to work for ... I mean, with."
Johnson praised the team's 3-1 finish.
"A lot of it is due to our coach, Rex Ryan," Johnson said. "It's an amazing tribute to Rex and his staff."