New York Jets – Burn It To The Ground

The New York Jets need to be accountable for their mistakes and begin the process of gutting their team

When you watch that type of performance from a football team on a national stage with their season on the line, it begs the simple questions “What happened? What went wrong? Who is to blame?”  Yet, we’ve seen this movie before the past two years. The Jets had a chance to be a playoff team last year but were blown out by the Philadelphia Eagles, a non-playoff team. They then lost by 15 to the New York Giants and ended the season with a loss to another non-playoff team, the Miami Dolphins. In 2012, it has been more of the same. In a pivotal game against Miami, who is currently 4-6, they were blown out on their home field. Then last night…well you saw what happened.

Since their December win in 2010 against Pittsburgh, the New York Jets don’t have a single impressive regular season win on their resume. What they do have on their resume is a collection of blowout losses. Three losses by 17 or more last year. Five losses by 17 or more this year…and counting. This isn’t a one game issue, a one mistake issue, or a one player issue. This is an organizational failure that is the product of poor personnel evaluation and a lack of accountability.

The 2010 Jets were a very good football team who won 11 games and a beat a 14 win New England team in the playoffs on the road. They laid an egg in the first half of the AFC Championship Game, which cost them a trip to the Super Bowl…the first in a series of recent Rex Ryan coaching blunders. But how does a team that talented so quickly fall?

Look at the 2009 draft now in retrospect. Mark Sanchez, Shonn Greene and Matt Slauson were the only players they left that draft with. Three players. How do you build depth like that? Sanchez is clearly a game manager who can succeed if he is protected by a strong running game, talented skill position players and a very good defense. He is not built to carry a team. This was abundantly clear after 2010. Poor self-scouting led the Jets to believe otherwise, so they decided to proceed in 2011 with a three receiver base offense that was going to be pass heavy and neglected building around Sanchez.

Greene was a third round back who was effective after a defense was worn down by a quality starter like Thomas Jones or LaDainian Tomlinson. This wasn’t a first round back who had a skill set that was off the charts. He was a one-dimensional downhill runner. What did the Jets do heading into 2011? Make him their “bell-cow” back who was ready to receive 20+ carries every week. Poor self-scouting. Slauson was good enough to beat out Vladimir Ducasse and that was it. He started by default because a 2010 2nd round pick busted. Yet, the Jets didn’t replace him heading into this year. Poor self-scouting.

Now look at the 2010 draft, which is maybe the worst draft class in recent NFL history. The Jets left with four players…again no opportunity to build depth. Kyle Wilson. Vladimir Ducasse. Joe McKnight and John Conner. Think about that. Kyle Wilson is a below average nickelback, never-mind starting NFL corner and the Jets spent a first round pick on him. When you draft a corner in the first round in 2010 and you already have Darrelle Revis, you would think you wouldn’t be chasing Nnamdi Asomugha the next off-season and then settling on giving a big contract to Antonio Cromartie. But the Jets did. Ducasse can’t play in the NFL. Not at guard. Not at tackle. Not anywhere. The Jets replacement plan for Hall of Famer Alan Faneca was Ducasse…poor self-scouting. Conner was a one-dimensional fullback who brought nothing to the offense and the Jets already had Tony Richardson. So now you are carrying two fullbacks, including one who is useless…poor roster management. McKnight is a good kick returner and has potential on offense but can’t stay healthy.

Two poor drafts made worse by poor self-scouting set the table in a big way for the current issues. However, don’t forget the ill-fated chase for Asomugha. Remember, the Jets could have just re-signed Cromartie and they would have been fine. Instead they needed the “name” and they needed to be in the Asomugha chase. They lost and had to pay Cromartie an even bigger contract in the long run as “apology money.” What was worse is that in the process of going after Asomugha, they guaranteed money on contracts for Bart Scott and Calvin Pace to free up cap space, players on the downside of their career. They also went cheap at wide receiver and offensive line, ignoring the necessity of keeping talent around Sanchez and receivers that he had built chemistry with.

They began paying the price last year and are really paying it now. Scott and Pace are past their primes and aren’t equipped to start in this league anymore. The Jets didn’t want to pay Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery or Brad Smith. They went “name” and got Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason on relatively low cost deals. They floundered and now the Jets are starting from scratch again at receiver. The “plan” to replace Damien Woody and Alan Fancea was Ducasse and Wayne Hunter. Poor self-scouting by planning on handing jobs to two incompetent players.

Where does this leave them now? A mess. Below average players weighing down the cap with bloated contracts. The Tim Tebow trade was a PR-stunt to distract attention from a roster with glaring holes all over the place. Rex Ryan isn’t built to handle adversity like this and seems at a complete loss on how to handle such an untalented team. You can’t bluster wins which is what he is trying to do. He knew this team lacked talent but couldn’t talk down expectations because that’s not who he is. He also failed by hiring Tony Sparano to coach his offense, foolishly sticking to the “Ground and Pound” theory in a league that is moving away from that trend.

The logical move is to fire General Manager Mike Tannenbaum and completely rebuild the personnel department. Let your new GM improve the scouting, let him make a decision on Rex and the quarterback position. Let me oversee the gutting of this roster, which should see the departure of the following starters: Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas, Matt Slauson, Austin Howard, Shonn Greene, Lex Hilliard, and Brandon Moore.

There is no half-measure solutions. This roster needs to be turned over completely and rebuilt through strong drafts and wise decisions in free agency. There are a few scraps on this roster who have long term potential who will be useful moving forward (Muhammad Wilkerson, Jeremy Kerley, Quinton Coples, Demario Davis to name a few) but beyond that it is burn to the ground time.

You can’t get away with poor drafts and poor scouting in the NFL. The Jets are now a textbook example of that.

Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the VP of Social Media at Whistle Sports

  • Willie

    I think what we will see is the assisant GM promoted to run the organziation. Let Rex have one more year.

    Like I said in the last post. I think we are starting to see the retooling of the roster from the last two drafts. The more I think about it I think the rebuidling plan has to go something like this.

    1) Get rid of most if not all of the players you stated. You may need to keep Austin Howard or Slauson for one more year. You also may need to keep Pace for one more year at a much lower cap #.

    2) Sign a tackle or guard in free agency. Whatever position you sing determines if Howard or Slauson stays.

    3) Use the #1 pick on the best available OL of need. Either G or RT. I agree with you 100% about Sanchez, since we are stuck with him a new and improved O line would make him much better.

    4) Let Landry leave as much as i like him I think he is gonna demand to much money. Resign Bell, move Kyle Wilson to FS and use Bush and Allen as back ups. Go with Cro and Revis at CB and hope Trufant, Berry, Lankster can cover the nickel and dime.

    5) Have to draft a OLB in round 2 and probably need to draft a development OLB late. May need to keep Pace one more year till cap is better and picks develop.

    6) DL is pretty good. With Pouha,Ellis, Wilk and Coples you have a good foundation. Try to bring back Devito on a small contract and sign a late free agent and you should be goood.

    7) At QB, I trade Tebow for a 6 or a 7. Go with McCelroy at back up. Let Sanchez play out the year with a better OL. Only thing I truly consider is a trade of a 2014 pick for Cousins if the new GM likes him.

    8) At our skill positions- I would use our 3rd thru 7 round picks on RB, TE, OL and WR. I think we need a back to pair up with Powell. We need two TE’s, a # 1 WR and OL depth. As much as it pains me i keep holmes for one more year. Let Sanchez have a new OL and the threesome of Hill, Kerly and Holmes.

  • Greg

    This team is a lost cause for 2012. They might win 2-3 more games, but that’s it. They aren’t good enough to run the table. They can improve pretty quickly, however, IF they have a good off season.

    1. Get Sanchez a running game. If an elite RB is available in round 1, take him. If not, take a back who can threaten the edge of a defense in the lower rounds. It’s hard to find a complete back lower in the draft, but they can draft someone to pair with Bilal Powell and use them situationally.

    2. Upgrade the O- Line at G and RT. Mangold and Brick can still play, but the other positions are in desperate need of an upgrade.

    3. They need an in-line blocking TE. On this team, a TE who can block is essential. Much as I like Dustin Keller, he’s a luxury the team can’t afford, he doesn’t block well enough to stay on the field every down.

    4. An edge rusher is necessary. They should be looking here in ROUNDS 1-2.

    5. I agree with keeping Mike DeVito. He’s a good player who doesn’t get his due. He makes few mental errors, gives everything he has and he makes plays. He’s the consummate team player and a true professional.

    6. Keep LaRon Landry if they can sign him to a reasonable 2-3 year deal. Landry is a flawed player; he makes too many mistakes in pass coverage. But his motor is non-stop. He’s an intimidator across the middle of the field and he’s a terrific run defender. He also makes plays on the ball.

    7. LB is a position they can address in free agency.

  • Jeremy

    Great piece. If you want to pull your hair out a little more, compare the draft history from the past few years of the jets with the 49ers, who by the way, are the team the jets wish they were.

    Notice how they have built up nearly their entire starting lineup from the draft. The few free agents they do sign complement their existing talent, not replace the lack thereof. Notice too how they don’t rely on rookies to immediately contribute, but instead expect them to learn and then earn the right to play after a season or two. Finally, notice how they rarely forfeit the bulk of their picks in a single draft, and instead stockpile picks.

    How has that been working out for them?

    Now let’s look back at the jets draft history. What do they do?

    1) Trade picks for free agents, who are often on the tail end of their careers and who are expected to fill voids in or roster left open by poor drafting and/or lack of draft picks.

    2) Trade up to target specific players, which again sacrifices depth for the perceived upside of a specific player. It also places a tremendous burden on the team since they then have that many fewer players to work with.

    Rinse, repeat.

    Now, how often has this worked out for the jets? Not enough to warrant the risk. I’ve long though of the each draft pick as basically a 50/50 coinflip. Some guys will be good, some will be bad. Good scouting can give you a few percentage point advantage, but in the end even great teams miss on picks, too. But the importance isn’t in getting a specific pick right, but rather, having as many coin flips as possible. That’s one of the (many) reasons why the Patriots are able to constantly plug in guys into their system, where the jets are left grasping at straws in the free agent market (re: Burress, P. and Mason, D.).

    There’s that Jet’s Draft lowlight reel on youtube, and in it Kiper says (back in the 80s/90s) “it’s clear the jets dont know what the draft is all about”. Sadly, 20 odd years later, this is still the case. The jets will never really be a great team until they change their philosophy on the draft.

  • Jay

    Great points all – but we also have to have a coaching staff that does not overstate a players ability! Conner – the terminator…Hunter the “best 6th lineman in the NFL…”

    We need a coaching staff that demands performance on and off the field. A philosophy that you play hard and controlled everyday or you sit or are cut! An understanding that this is NY, if competition scares you, you will fail.

    Sanchez’s failure to develop is twofold – great success that led him to a complacency that he didn’t have to work hard at his craft to succeed (just compare Brady and Sanchez on the sidelines where one studies plays and demands perfection while the other sits looking lost). The second part is a coaching staff that refuses to criticize a player and challenge them with strong competition. This has to change or no matter how well we draft, we will stagnate and remain the a three stooges sideshow.

  • Mark Phelan

    I am really impressed by the preceding comments.

    Humbly, I suggest the following:

    The driving energy with the Jets organization is: ENTERTAINMENT!

    Woody selected Rex. Rex (et al) selected Tebow…(hoping for magic). Rex I also assume selected Sparano. Woody whispered in MT’s ear….”Think marquis name! If we don’t have one….just pay someone we do have as if they were: (think Harris…and about 4 others)

    At the end of last years’ play tell the fans how much respect you have for Schottenheimer….how effective he is. Say the same about Sanchez. Say the same about your team. Ignore reality!!!

    Last night we saw a football organization – intent on performance – kick the bejesus out of out team – a team intent on ENTERTAINMENT!

  • mike

    quarterback is the only problem worth talking about. most of the 17+ point losses in the last two years have been a direct result of several foolish and inexplicable turnovers from the most careless quarterback in the league. when down just a few scores, sanchez has absolutely no composure and has proven himself to be completely incapable of righting the ship mid-game. the sad truth is that we don’t even know how good the roster is, because our quarterback plays for the other team half the time.

    as i see it, the o-line and linebackers are the weakest parts of the roster, and do need an overhaul. a running back with competitive speed would also be nice.

    but any team with a quarterback who gives the ball away as much as sanchez does can’t win. step 1: find a quarterback who won’t loose you the game.

    (by the way, sanchez is NOT a game manager. he’s the OPPOSITE of a game manager, insofar as he can’t hold on to the ball and keeps throwing it to the other team. please stop referring to him as a game manager.)

  • Derek

    Many qbs have came thru the league from usc with a great skillset and record in college but failed in the nfl because they lack heart and composure. Even at usc sanchez played rattled at times. Being able to win when its close has always defined qbs and even for the brief time he had a team that could run and block when it came down to crunch time.The best find a way to win. Period. Sanchez will always be a choke artist because his will is weak and he cant hide the fact that hes immature and lacks heart. He acts like a boy with no worry about rex ever taking him out because he dont want to hurt his feelings. Sanchez is a10 million + waste of time. Let tebow try this already. Even with no blocking he could hold the ball better than sanchez on a good day and if they help him by having him slimmer again he can bring some real power to the run game. greene two bilal one and asap get a back with outside speed. And forgot to mention get rid of the players who openly trash players anonymously instead of in thtabloids. That proves they lack class basically as aprofessional and skilled or not dont buy into winning as a team and supporting all your fellow teammates. They ought to be ashamed for ripping the guy when hes been treated like a disease. Tebow did not bring the circus to ny. The media hates the kid almost as much as losing to poor management and wc

  • Derek

    Poor work ethic. Tebow might not have skillset you wantconsistently but willed himself to wins with less of a team and rallied in a way that feels unreal but almost legendary, all the while people saying its a fluke. he lost nrw england ran over the jets last yr but hes horrible they say. The team needs to wake up and realize not all stats paint who a player is. Tebow was clutch coming into a team and offense that had no confidence in him til he put his heart on the line and won many games they never would have won. After

  • Derek

    They never mentioned the d til the confidence in tebows will to win made the whole team play with heart. He put heart into a team that was playing for money instead of pride. Youd be suprised what lvls you can reach when you have that.

    The greatest have heart. Let him be one of the captains if not for the heart to win and if he cant find a way say whatever you want. But dont call him a failiure when all hes ever done to win is lay it all

  • Willie

    Derek- I know he won some games last year, but he is not a winning NFL QB. You can not win consistently with the type of system he needs to run. To be honest, I don’t even think he is a good back up QB in the NFL. He can not step in and run a NFL system and help win you a game or two. While I think he is a great person, I don’t think he will be on an NFL roster in two seasons. I think the evidence of this is that no team was willing to giving up more then a 4th rounder for him and that only two teams were interested in hime. The quicker the Jets move on from the Tebow experiment the better.

  • paul

    All good points but none of this matters till the owner wants a trophy to show off to all his other rich friends that the bottom line. I he did all these issues would not be and the Jets would of won a SB by now. One game away from the SB against pitt and none of the problems were addressed the following season enough said!