(Long Island, NY) They didn’t acquire the nickname for nothing. It took years in the making and earning it through many different regimes is not that easy. Bad bounces coupled with bad decisions – on the field and off – all have been the culprit and piled together spell it out.
Same Old Jets.
Regardless if the revolving door of front office personnel, coaches and players will never admit it, that stigma weighs on everyone who has ever put on the green and white for the last 40 years. Eric Mangini is merely the latest to understand that.
By presiding over another December to not remember, the man who was called ‘Mangenius’ only two short years ago in his rookie season on the Jet sideline now finds himself on the unemployment line. After leading Gang Green to a wild card playoff berth with a 10-6 record in 2006, Mangini and the entire organization took a major step back last year with a 4-12 mark.
That set everything up for this year to be a ‘make-or-break’ one for not only Mangini, but general manager Mike Tannenbaum, as well. They both came on together and have been linked with both successes and failures of the team. Owner Woody Johnson gave them an open checkbook and the offseason spending spree – which addressed the offensive line and pass rush – was capped off by the acquisition of Brett Favre in August. What looked like a strike of genius at the time ended up being the kiss if death for Mangini.
Perhaps Johnson was seeing the Favre of old, not an old Favre, when number four recanted on his retirement and forced the trade from Green Bay. Judging by the swift dismissal of his head coach that may just be the case.
“It’s one of those things that is a judgment call – Mike and I looking at this organization now and trying to see if Eric was the right fit or whether we should move on in a different direction,” said Johnson on Monday during the press conference announcing the firing. This came only a scant few hours after Johnson said that he didn’t want to make a decision on his coach in the “heat” of the aftereffects of the 24-17 loss to Miami on Sunday, which eliminated the Jets (9-7) from playoff contention.
Both Johnson and Tannenbaum have publicly stated that they want Favre to return in 2009, even though he will turn 40 and looked every bit his age by leading the league with 22 interceptions.
“We, as an organization, want Brett back,” Tannenbaum said. “I think that will unfold over the days and weeks from now.” Word is that the front office informed Favre to take “as long as he needs” to make a decision, but that they would like to know by the Scouting Combine in February.
When the Jets signed two big offensive lineman in Alan Faneca and Damien Woody, then picked up Favre, the eerily similar circumstances reminisced of 1996, a season in which ‘Same Old Jets’ was stated often during a 1-15 nightmare.
That year, Jumbo Elliot and David Williams were added to the offensive line and Neil O’Donnell – coming off a Super Bowl appearance with Pittsburgh – was signed to a five-year, $25 million free agent contract. What seemed to be a good formula to improve on the 3-13 mark from the previous campaign, the Jets couldn’t get out of their own way from the get-go. Both lineman were injured during training camp and O’Donnell was pummeled in the 31-6 season opener at Denver.
Missing time with more than one injury, including one suffered in pre-game warm-ups, O’Donnell was a bust and was gone by 1998. Not comparing Rich Kotite to Mangini, but both coaches were removed after disappointing seasons following the addition of two O-lineman and previous winning quarterbacks.
This team may not need the overhaul that the ’96 club did, but this one needs to have many questions answered. The old quarterback, the future head coach, the direction of the franchise being the important ones. As Tannenbaum put it, they will be “looking under every rock” for talent. That won’t be as difficult as it sounds since they nearly hit rock bottom with this latest collapse.