After an appropriate amount of time to decompress after last night’s horror show, TOJ is ready to break down the Jets second pre-season game against the Giants. We start with an open letter to Mike Tannenbaum from Mike Donnelly –
Dear Mike Tannenbaum,
Hey Mike, I just wanted to send you this letter because I have some real concerns about the job you’ve done lately with my beloved New York Jets, and your secretary keeps saying you’re unavailable when I call with my list of ideas (seriously, you can’t ALWAYS be out to lunch, can you?). I understand being the General Manager of a sports team is a really tough job and there will be some fans who always hate you no matter what happens, but I’ve always been a staunch supporter of yours. I just want you to know that, before you keep reading.
You see, I was a big fan of the whole “Trader Mike”, never say never, aggressive persona you established for yourself. Bold trades for players such as Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, and Antonio Cromartie were all completely justified in my opinion, no matter what the cost ended up being. You brought real star power to the team and built a talented roster to compete with the Patriots. Your initial draft in 2006 was a goldmine as you brought in several players who were the foundation for the team. You followed that up with bold trade-ups in 2007 for players such as Darrelle Revis and David Harris, which I loved at the time and you were 100% right in doing so. Sure, the 2008 draft was a complete and total disaster, but every team strikes out from time to time. And even though the Gholston pick was more like you removing your pants, taking a dump on home plate and punching out the umpire while giving the crowd the finger than “striking out”, I still gave you a pass because I just blamed Mangini. I mean, screw that guy, right?
During the 2009 draft though, the bold Mr. T made his illustrious return and pulled off a blockbuster trade up for Mark Sanchez in the first round (a heist at the time), and then for Shonn Greene in the third round. We only ended up with 3 picks that year, but I didn’t care — we had our franchise QB and potential star RB. I still believe in both of them a great deal. The problem was, since that pick of Mark Sanchez you seem to have done everything wrong. You failed to give him the proper tools to develop properly, which should have been numbers 1, 2 and 3 on the agenda every day. Hell, I even wrote an entire column about those failures. I suggest you read it. The 2010 draft is when I started to really have my doubts, though. I didn’t mind the Kyle Wilson pick, even though I thought the pass rush should have been addressed.
When he looked terrible and had his butt firmly planted on the bench his entire rookie season, I still defended your choice. But if anything ever showed my true allegiance to you, it was my continued defense of drafting Vladimir Ducasse, despite literally ALL OF THE EVIDENCE pointing the other way. A Division 1-AA project offensive linemen from UMass with the ootball IQ of a tree stump should not be a second round pick, especially if he’s bad at football. You’ve since given him ample opportunity to prove himself and earn playing time and he’s failed miserably at every turn. The guy sucks. But even after all that, I still defended you adamantly. Until now, anyway. Allow me to run down the reasons why that’s the case, Mike:
Wayne Hunter – After the 2010 season, you practically pushed Damien Woody out the door, despite his wanting to play one more season. Why would you do that? Because in your mind Wayne Hunter played four good games down the stretch in 2010 and that meant he was ready to be “the man” at right tackle (plus we had VLAD in reserve. Clearly we were set with that combo!) You rewarded those four games with a rich contract, despite all of the evidence during Hunter’s career pointing to him being a bad player. Not many guys suddenly become good at the age of 30, and Hunter is no different. He was, is, and will forever be a steaming pile of crap as an offensive lineman.
And despite him turning in the single worst season I’ve ever seen from an offensive lineman in 2011, you decided to guarantee his $2.5 million salary for 2012 and not send his uncoordinated, immobile ass packing. This is when you lost me. Despite having some salary cap room to burn and all of our draft picks for a change, you brought in zero offensive tackles to take Wayne Hunter’s job (And don’t even get me started about the moron you hired to coach the offensive linemen. You know, the one who said Hunter is the best RT out there and someone would have to shoot him to bench Wayne). There can only be two explanations for your refusal to dump the human turnstile that is Wayne Hunter: 1- Mark Sanchez did something to you personally and this was your plan to get revenge, by having defensive ends blow past Hunter and get Sanchez killed right there on the field; or 2- you’ve become incompetent. While option 1 is certainly possible, I’m leaning towards option #2. Why? Because…
No Blocking Tight Ends – Despite having the worst offensive tackle in the history of organized football and trying to get back to being a “ground and pound” running offense, you decided we didn’t need any tight ends who could actually block. We’ve known Dustin Keller can’t block for years now, but you can get away with that as long as you have a #2 TE who can manage to not whiff on pass rushers or get knocked onto his ass while attempting to push a pile. We saw that when Ben Hartstock was on the team. You’d think that since you came up in this league under Bill Parcells and saw the team lead the league in rushing in 2009, you’d understand the importance of being able to dominate in the trenches.
Instead, your ideas for who to pair with Keller at the tight end position this year were: Jeff Cumberland (a tall, skinny college wide receiver who CAN NOT block), Josh Baker (an H-back who can’t block OR catch), and Hayden Smith (an Australian rugby player). If you combine all 4 of those players, they equal about 92% of ONE competent NFL blocker. When you factor in that they play next to Wayne Hunter it drops to about 85%. That is UNACCEPTABLE. This was probably the most inexcusable oversight you’ve had. There is no reason you couldn’t bring in a blocking tight end to this roster for a very cheap price. Hell, give Anthony Becht a call, it’s not like he’s busy or anything.
NO DEPTH – Last year when Nick Mangold got injured, we had to watch Colin Baxter comically get knocked over play after play and then look like he was going to cry on the sidelines. Thanks for that. When Wayne Hunter was getting thrown around like a child, we had nobody to replace him with. When Bryan Thomas got hurt, we had the immortal Garrett McIntyre backing him up. Basically, the bottom of the roster is a wasteland. After last season you spoke about how the Jets might have “the next Victor Cruz” on the roster, meaning a guy to come out of nowhere and contribute. The problem with that is that Victor Cruz has talent; Caleb Schlauderaff does not.
The Packers, who are a very well-run organization, thought so little of Caleb that they traded him to you four months after they drafted him. Yet you routinely speak of him like he’s the second coming of Steve Hutchinson. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say he sucks. On your never-ending quest to find the new Victor Cruz, you also talk up other bums such as Baker, Cumberland, and of course Austin Howard, who can’t seem to beat out even Wayne Hunter for a job. So please, spare me the talk about how Ellis Lankster or Josh Mauga are going to really break out this year. Don’t tell me about all the touchdowns Dexter Jackson will catch from Matt Simms. The team has no depth, and it’s extremely obvious. At least you got rid of Mark Brunell this year, though. I’ll give you that one.
Pass Rush – It’s been four years since the aforementioned Gholston disaster, and in that time, other than Aaron Maybin last year (which was complete luck that he fell into your lap) do you know how many Outside Linebackers you’ve added to this roster? ZERO! Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace are solid players on the outside, especially against the run, but since you traded John Abraham in 2006 we haven’t had one single top-notch pass rusher. At some point in the last four years, don’t you think some youth and speed should have been added on the outside? Obviously you don’t agree, since you didn’t do it. Did you get scared off by the Gholston era or something? Get over it, shit happens. Pace and Thomas are now on their last legs, and there is no depth behind them. That’s going to end up being a serious problem. We saw that last year after BT went down and the run defense went into the crapper. Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the Victor Cruz of linebackers is on this roster!
So in conclusion, Mike, I just wanted to say that I’m not mad at you, I’m just hurt. The Mike Tannenbaum Era started off so great and I really believed in you. In fact, despite everything I just wrote, I still want to believe in you. I want to turn on the TV tomorrow and see you pulled off a trade for a legitimate starting Right Tackle (not one with chronically injured knees like Jeff Otah, though). I want to see that Wayne Hunter has been traded to the Siberian Football League or something. I want to see a tight end added to the roster that would be able to at least block me. There is talent on this team that you built and I’ve supported you through thick and thin, but as they say, a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link. With moves like Hunter, Cumberland, and Vlad lately, I’m starting to think that maybe that the weak link… is you.
Mike Donnelly, Frustrated Jets Fan