(Long Island, N.Y.) Finishing in last place in your division with a brutal 6-10 record is usually good enough reason for a full housecleaning. The general manager, head coach and his staff find themselves out the door and the roster shakeup to follow begins to take place as soon as the new people are in place.
But that is the norm, so of course that doesn’t occur when the New York Jets are the subject of the conversation. The organization never does anything the easy way and seems to thrive on the drama that most strive to avoid.
So when ‘Black Monday’ (the first day of the offseason for teams who failed to qualify for the playoffs and full of firings) came and went with only one Jet head rolling, it seems like a good bet to prepare for more of the same in 2013.
Mike Tannenbaum was the fallguy for the pitiful unmitigated disaster that was this campaign, but the former GM is far from the only one guilty. But you wouldn’t know that by the press release from the team announcing the change.
“Mike devoted 15 years of service to the Jets and I want to thank him for his hard work and dedication,” owner Woody Johnson said in the statement. “Although he helped guide us to two AFC Championship Games, we are not where we want to be and a new general manager will be critical to getting this team back on the right track.”
But perhaps the most telling part of Johnson’s words pertained to who will lead this bunch on the sidelines every Sunday. “Rex Ryan will remain the head coach of our football team. I believe that he has the passion, the talent and the drive to successfully lead our team.”
So before the search even begins, the lame duck coach that the new GM will inherit will limit it. Ryan’s boisterous and braggadocios ways ruffle many feathers and it will take a patient person to take the job and deal with all of the dog and pony show material that comes with Ryan and the Jets in general.
Even if the new GM does a decent job drafting (the Jets hold the ninth overall pick in April’s NFL Draft) and signing free agents, the team has a terrible salary cap situation (much of the reason why Tannenbaum is gone) and Ryan will no doubt want Mark Sanchez to get another chance to be the starting quarterback.
The two are said to be joined at the hip and Ryan’s success has been mirrored by not the same for Sanchez, but if the four-year starter can limit the mistakes and let the team win in other facets of the game. Basically playing not to lose every Sunday has been the strategy with Sanchez since his rookie season. (Remember the color coded wrist band to let him know how dire the situation was to attempt a pass or not?)
The former USC Trojan had his worst year as a pro and looked lost, dejected and completely void of any confidence in December. The turnovers mounted and one of the most important things that a quarterback is judged by is taking care of the football. Throwing 18 interceptions (as opposed to only 13 touchdowns) and fumbling away a number of balls in embarrassing fashion only prove that the 26-year-old is on a serious path of regression.
It will be the Rex and Mark show once again come minicamp and when we are at this same time next year, Johnson will have no choice but to chop more heads, the same ones that he didn’t now when it would have been more than appropriate.