(Picture courtesy MMQB.si.com)
As Rex Ryan and his battered group get ready to take the field against the defending AFC Champions on Sunday, fans of the team are sharpening their figurative axe in preparation to distribute their form of justice after yet another offseason of deceit.
Everyone in the NFL world knew the Jets were weak at WR, DB and offensive line. Everyone except GM John Idzik who decided to pocket over $20 million in cap room for a “rainy day”. Left on the table were a number of CB, WR and offensive lineman that could have had a definite effect in making this team a contender instead of the inept mess it has become.
Woody Johnson bought the Jets back in 2000 and beleaguered fans finally thought they had an owner who would place an emphasis on winning, unlike their previous owner Leon Hess, who despite being a very sweet man, had no idea how to hire quality football men. Now 14 years into his tenure as owner, Johnson has proven just as ignorant in choosing his front office as Hess. Who in the world was John Idzik? Anyone that I have spoken to said, outside of being a master with the salary cap, had no idea what he was qualified to do. He certainly was not qualified IN ANY WAY to be given the keys to a franchise, especially one with fans as frustrated and disgusted as Jets fans.
The gauntlet has come down hard on the second year GM as writers and analysts have noticed the gaping holes still left on the roster, the lack of depth that was obviously apparent to the NFL novice in the offseason that went ignored and disaster after disaster with the few moves he has made bringing in talent.
Of the Jets 19 draft choices that John Idzik has made in his tenure as Jets GM, only Sheldon Richardson has been a consistent contributor. Six of the 19 picks are no longer on the roster, 6 are on the practice squad or non-contributing players, while 2 of the picks are out for the year with injuries. Outside of Richardson the remaining players have either failed miserably or their futures are highly questionable. Geno Smith does not look like a franchise QB. Dee Milliner has been injury prone and been burnt in coverage countless times. Brian Winters has started his own escort service with the way he has allowed people access to Jets QB. There is still hope for 2014 first round selection Calvin Prior and second round pick Jace Amaro, but Prior has looked totally confused in being burnt for TD in the red zone and on long passes, while Amaro has dropped passes in every game. For a GM who has put his reputation and emphasis on the draft, his first 2 drafts have left a lot to be desired, but compared to his free agent signings, his draft picks have been wonderful. Stephen Peterman, Antonio Garay, Braylon Edwards and Dmitri Patterson didn’t even play a regular season game for the team. Mike Goodson had numerous off the field issues and played just 2 games before being released, while WR Ben Obamanu played in just 3 games before being released in 2013.
Looking at these moves one would think that Idzik is either at complete moron incapable of washing his own hands, or that he is setting up Rex Ryan to fail. While blame certainly can be placed in many places, the finger needs to be pointed directly at Woody Johnson. By hiring Idzik and not replacing Rex Ryan as well, that created a very uncomfortable relationship with his GM and coach. Anyone who has watched this team play the last 2 seasons and listened to the press conferences can plainly see that Ryan is trying to “toe the company line” while fans watch the team fall deeper and deeper into the abyss.
Despite the Jets having an 8-8 record last season, the teams play has become increasingly worse during Ryan’s tenure as head coach. Many times won-loss record is not the best way to analyze the teams play. In Ryan’s first season with the Jets in 2009, the Jets posted a point differential of +112, which was the seventh best in the NFL that season. Since that year the Jets have gotten progressively worse, highlighted by their -97 last season which was the seventh worst in the NFL.
Jets Point Differential
Rex Ryan Era
What does this mean? Well, simply put it means that along with the separation of talent from this roster from Ryan’s first year in 2009 has grown every year. When Ryan took over in 2009, he inherited a stacked roster built by successful drafts of 2006-08 when players like Darrelle Revis, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Leon Washington, Nick Mangold, Brad Smith, Dustin Keller and David Harris were drafted by Mike Tannebaum and Eric Mangini. Since then, the team has switched back and forth from a “ground and pound” team which Ryan flourished with in 2009 and 2010, to a confused, ever changing offense and philosophy that seems to change every week. In 2011 they abandoned the effective trio of Jerricho Cotchery, Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes, replacing Cotchery and Edwards with Plaxico Burress and Desmond Mason. Burress lasted only one season while Mason lasted only a few games and the familiarity Mark Sanchez had established with his WR was gone.
Changing philosophies and hiring inept people to execute them has forever been the staple of this franchise, especially since Johnson took over in 2000. Already this season the Jets can’t decide whether they want to run the ball or pass the ball. Add a roster void of talent and depth and you get the 2014 Jets. Yes, John Idzik has not done anything to help Rex Ryan field a team that has to win now, but Ryan is partly to blame for the disaster of a roster that Idzik inherited when he was hired after the 2012 season. However, two drafts and offseasons later, Idzik has further depleted the roster, something that wasn’t supposed to happen with 19 draft picks and a bevy of quality free agents available in the last 2 years. It is that ineptness that Woody Johnson must see in turning this franchise around.
Lastly, if Woody Johnson truly wants to build a team with sustained success he needs to hire proven, quality football minds that have experience in how to build an NFL champion. Ozzie Newsome, Ted Thompson, Bill Cowher, Brian Billick, John Gruden, Kevin Colbert, John Schneider, Jim Harbaugh, etc…these are the people that need to be on Woody Johnson speed dial in the offseason. The Jets fans deserve someone who can end this never-ending escalator of “next guys” and see someone in the front office and on the sideline who knows how to win. The only time the Jets made that kind of hire, the turned the entire history of their franchise around when they hired Bill Parcells.
How bad has the Jets selections at head coach and GM been? Outside of Pete Carroll and Bill Parcells, none of their former coaches have gone on to win a playoff game. Herman Edwards is the only other one of their former coaches to even reach the postseason when the Kansas City Chiefs made the postseason in 2006 thanks to a miraculous cause of events on the final day of the season. Bruce Coslet? Nope. Joe Walton? Uh-Uh. Rich Kotite? HA HA!! Al Groh, Eric Mangini, Walt Michaels, Charley Winner? No, No, No and No. If you thing that’s bad just wait until you see how their former GMs have faired. None of their former GMs have ever worked again in that capacity for any other team. Names like Jim Kensil, Al Ward, Mike Hickey and Terry Bradway were never hired by another team. Now can you see what I mean as far as setting themselves up to fail? How can their fans expect to believe any promises of success when the people who make them have nothing to point to?
Time will tell if Woody Johnson really cares about this team and its longsuffering fans. If the Jets continue to spiral out of control this season and Rex Ryan can’t turn this around, Johnson can’t ignore the fact that the GM he hired two seasons ago to build long term success through the draft, hasn’t done so.