Mike Tannebaum Fired as Jets GM; HC Rex Ryan to be Retained

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As many expected, the New York Jets have decided to part ways with General Manager Mike Tannenbaum on Monday, while making the decision to retain Head Coach Rex Ryan. While the Tannenbaum firing has been anticipated, it was unclear whether or not he would be outright fired, or reassigned to a salary cap management role.

This is the best move Owner Woody Johnson could have made. There is no reason to keep Tannenbaum around in any type of role whatsoever. No quality potential General Manager candidate would have accepted the terms of coming in to work alongside Tannenbaum as his salary cap specialist. This organization’s front office needs a fresh start. The Jets have constantly been weighed down by their inability to part ways with officials, often preferring to demote them rather than outright releasing them.

Prior to the Tannenbaum era, Terry Bradway was demoted from his General Manager position to a job within the personnel department. Bob Sutton, New York’s once Defensive Coordinator, was demoted to Linebackers coach when Rex Ryan was brought in. Tannenbaum being outright fired will allow this organization to start completely over, from a front office standpoint, which is exactly what is needed.

While Tannenbaum will likely be remembered as the man who gave horrible contracts to Mark Sanchez, Bart Scott, and Calvin Pace, while swinging one of the worst trades in recent NFL history, swapping two draft picks for Tim Tebow, who became nothing more than a decoration on the sideline, let’s not forget the good he had done early in his career. Tannenbaum is responsible for drafting very fundamental pieces of this team including Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, and David Harris. However, Tannenbaum is also the same man who drafted Kyle Wilson, Vernon Gholston, and Anthony Schlegel.

Regardless of what he has done in the past, this move was absolutely necessary. Our sources have indicated that Tannenbaum not only has a fractured relationship with the media, but also has very little to no relationship with other General Managers around the league, which makes perfect sense considering the only trades this organization has been able to make recently have been with teams looking to rid themselves of certain players (Antonio Cromartie, Santonio Holmes, Tim Tebow). Tannenbaum also has a poor relationship with the agents of Darrelle Revis, as exposed in Revis’s 2010 training camp hold out. With a new General Manager, the chances of locking down the All-Pro CB to a long term deal will be much better.

The Jets have been headed down the wrong path since the conclusion of the 2010 season, and Woody Johnson needed to halt this downslide before it got any worse. Now, Johnson will work with newly appointed advisor Jed Hughes, who will help lead the Jets search for a new General Manager. Some names to watch for are Ravens Assistant GM, Eric DeCosta, New York Giants Director of College Scouting, Mark Ross, and former Indianapolis Colts General Manager Bill Polian, just to name a few. Former Jets Head Coach Eric Mangini’s name has been floated recently, but there are absolutely no indications of interest from either side at this point.

The list of potential candidates will grow in the coming hours and days, but look for Johnson and Hughes to try and make a hire sooner, rather than later, as several other decisions need to be made within the organization, particularly at Offensive Coordinator. Tony Sparano is expected to be out, but his firing may be delayed until a new General Manager is in place, so he can bring in his choice to fill the position.

In terms of Ryan, the Head Coach deservedly gets another year to right the ship after being handed an absolutely atrocious roster, in terms of depth, from Tannenbaum. While many believe the decision to retain Rex may narrow the list of potential General Manager candidates, that may not necessarily be the case. Johnson will likely give Ryan his vote of confidence for just one more year, at which point the new General Manager can reassess the situation and go from there. Obviously, if the Jets have a very good season next year, that decision will be an easy one for whoever the new GM is.

Most high ranking officials around the league recognize Ryan as a very talented Head Coach, with some flaws pertaining to his off the field antics, particularly the media leaks thats often flow out of Florham Park with more volume than the Hudson River flowing into the Atlantic Ocean. However, a new General Manager will likely change the entire culture of that situation, while demanding Ryan stick to doing what he does best – coaching football.

More pieces are sure to fall into place in the coming hours and days, so be sure to stay with Turn On The Jets, as we’ll have you covered from top to bottom with breaking new and analysis. 

Initial Reaction – Buffalo Embarrassment, Fitting End to 2012

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The New York Jets final regular season game, a 28-9 embarrassing loss to the Buffalo Bills, was an accurate microcosm of the entire 2012 season. Mark Sanchez looked as pitiful as he has all year. While he finished 17/35 with 205 yards, the player once viewed as the franchise quarterback for this organization represented exactly what he has become through 4 seasons in the NFL. A first quarter interception returned for a touchdown, over looking wide open receivers down field, badly missing open targets, and an overall demeanor that sums up what has become a sorry excuse for a career. Shonn Greene ran very hard, but finished with his typical 3.9 yards per carry average, Bilal Powell was under utilized, receiving just 12 carries while averaging 4.7 YPC, and Joe McKnight continued to be ignored as a member of the roster, as he had just one touch on offense.

Jeremy Kerley finished his impressive season at wide receiver with a strong effort, considering the circumstances, finishing with 3 receptions for 88 yards. Braylon Edwards continued to highlight the poor decision by Mike Tannenbaum to let him leave following the 2010 season, as he hauled in 4 balls for 42 yards, while more importantly establishing a leadership presence that was clearly absent from this team throughout the duration of the past two years.

Defensively, the Jets were stout against the run, limiting CJ Spiller to just 2.5 YPC, and allowing only 109 total rushing yards. However, New York witnessed a first hand account of irony as former Jet Brad Smith scored a fourth quarter touchdown out of the wildcat formation, surpassing Tim Tebow’s season touchdown total out of that very formation in a single play. The Jets secondary seemingly mailed in the final game of 2012, allowing Ryan Fitzpatrick to pass for 225 yards and a touchdown, with wide receiver Stevie Johnson leading Buffalo’s receiving effort with 6 receptions for 111 yards. Fitzpatrick was hit 4 times, but was never sacked, representing the pass rush woes that have haunted the Jets since Ryan took over in 2009.

While the outcome of this game was basically meaningless due to the fact that neither team was alive for postseason play, the effort that the Jets turned in today leaves no one within the organization with any sense of job security. Heads will begin to roll as early as Monday. Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano will reportedly be fired after just one season in New York. General Manager Mike Tannenbaum is sure to be relieved of his duties, but it is still rather unclear whether he will be outright fired or reassigned to a salary cap management role. Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine’s future is extremely uncertain, as he has already turned down a contract extension offered to him earlier this season. Rex Ryan has been believed to be safe for the majority of the year, but after such an uninspiring loss to finish his second consecutive season of missing the post season, there are absolutely no guarantees that he will be retained as of right now.

Lisa Zimmerman of CBS Sports has reported that owner Woody Johnson has hired Jed Hughes of Korn/Ferry International to assist in leading New York’s search for a new General Manager, assuming Tannenbaum is officially removed from the position. Hughes has a background in coaching and scouting, having served under five Hall of Fame coaches throughout his 20 years of prior coaching experience. Hughes is no stranger to leading efforts to install officials into leadership positions for football teams at the professional and college level, as he has previously played a significant role in the hirings of current Jets President Neil Glat, Green Bay Packers CEO Mark Murphy, and the University of Michigan’s head football coach, Brady Hoke. Changes are sure to be made within this organization, likely as early as tomorrow, and you can rest assured that there are absolutely no guarantees with this team as of right now.

Woody Johnson has a history of making knee jerk reactions, and following a two year post season drought, there is no doubt that significant pieces of this organization will be replaced. The rumor mill has been extremely active over the past few days, but outside of the firing of Sparano, and the potential firing of Tannenbaum, the majority of these rumors can be dismissed until the powers that be are sorted out. There has been plenty of discussion about Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow being moved this offseason. While these are likely scenarios, there are far too many pieces that need to fall into place before decisions like these will be made. It will surely be a hectic week in Jets land, but make no mistake, an overhaul is coming in some way, shape, or form.

Heading into “Black Monday,” plenty of activity is on the horizon. The most likely departures include Sparano, Tannenbaum, Sanchez and Tebow at some point, and a surplus of other players including, but not limited to, Calvin Pace, Bart Scott, Eric Smith, Bryan Thomas, Sione Pouha, Dustin Keller, Shonn Greene, Brandon Moore, Matt Slauson, Jason Smith, Clyde Gates, Lex Hilliard, Mike DeVito, and LaRon Landry, to name some. Depending on what changes are made, Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie certainly do not have a clear future with this organization either.

Where this team is headed from here on out depends largely on the approach that will be taken by Johnson and the newly appointed Hughes. If they decide to take the rebuild approach, expect the entire coaching staff to be relieved, along with efforts to move any high priced players on the roster. If the retool approach is taken, many players will still be let go, but Ryan could remain as the Head Coach of a roster that will likely look nothing like what was on the field in Buffalo today.

It is certainly a dark time for the New York Jets, who have just posted their worst overall record since 2007 when the club finished 4-12. There will be plenty to discuss in the coming days, and Turn On The Jets will be bringing you updates and analysis every step of the way, so be sure to stay with us. Until then, there is no need to lose sleep speculating the changes that will be made due to the high level of uncertainty as explained above. 2012 was as bad as it gets for New York, but one positive we can all take from this season is that change is on the horizon for an organization that desperately needs to rid themselves of the immense amount of drama and overall abysmal play that have plagued this once promising team since 2010. Rest easy, Jets nation. Changes are on the way.

New York Jets: A Letter To Woody Johnson

Turn On The Jets writer Mike Donnelly with a letter to New York Jets owner Woody Johnson

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Dear Woody Johnson,

Hi Woody, I hope this letter finds you sooner rather than later. My name is Mike Donnelly (@TheMikeDonnelly) and I’m a long-time diehard Jets fan that has spent more money than I’d care to discuss while supporting this team. I’m writing you because I–along with many other Jets fans that I’ve spoken with–have some serious concerns about the direction of our beloved franchise after the overflowed clogged toilet of a season we just witnessed in 2012. I can’t say I speak for all Jets fans, but I’m almost positive that most of them share many of the same concerns as I do.

I know you’re a busy guy and everything out there doing whatever billionaires do, and I respect that, so I didn’t want to bother you before the season. I thought things were headed in the right direction, but I did write a letter to your General Manager, Mike Tannenbaum, about some of these concerns and apparently he never got around to reading it. It’s too bad too, because if he had heeded my advice in August, a lot of this mess could have been avoided. You should ask him about it (Don’t worry, we’ll get to him later).

Anyway, I first wanted to say that I think you get an undeserved bad rap from a lot of Jets fans (and the media) and I wish more people would understand that since you purchased the team in 2000, there has been a lot more good than bad. We’ve seen 8 winning seasons, 6 playoff appearances, 2 trips to the AFC title game, and an overall winning record in 13 seasons. There are plenty of NFL franchises that would sign for that right now. People act like the Jets are a major joke, but in reality we haven’t been since your predecessor, Leon Hess, was running the show. So I commend you for that.

Plenty of people also accuse you of only caring about generating headlines and not caring about the success of the team on the field, but I know that’s not the case. I know you care about this team and want a Super Bowl victory just as badly as we do. My concern though is that you don’t exactly know how to go about accomplishing that, and that’s a bit of a problem. Sure, the headlines and an occasional splashy player acquisition are nice, but that alone is not going to get the job done. Fans–specifically PSL season ticket holders–are getting fed up with the direction of the franchise and feel like we’ve all been sold a bill of goods in an effort to get us to pony up our money for a below average product, and that’s unacceptable. So Woody, I’m here to give you some help. Follow this 5-Step Plan and we can get back to discussing the Lombardi Trophy soon, and hell I might even consider buying one of your $110 Jets sweatshirts that are comically sold in the stadium.

1. Fire Mike Tannenbaum – By fire, I mean fire. Make him unemployed. Have him update his resume to say his tenure with the Jets ended on Monday December 31, 2012. I made my case for his firing repeatedly. Do not re-assign him in the organization to manage the salary cap or negotiate contracts and weasel his way into any decision making meetings, or any of that nonsense, like you did with Terry Bradway. Fire him. F-I-R-E. Fire. No more Mike Tannenbaum. He did plenty of good for this organization early in his tenure, but at some point he evidently lost his mind. I think he started to believe his own hype tanny rainand thought he could just easily fix holes as they popped up without a long-term plan since he was so much smarter than everyone else, when that was not the case.

That’s how we ended up with things like Greg McElroy throwing a pass to Mardy Gilyard while Vlad Ducasse blocks for him. There has been a lack of a plan from high up in the front office for quite some time now, and that needs to change. It’s no secret that his contract negotiations with several players during his tenure have been contentious and many have flat out accused him of lying to them. It’s time to cut bait and establish a new culture in the front office. So one more time: Fire Mike Tannenbaum. Fire, not reassign. And while you’re handing out the pink slips, make sure you slip one in Terry Bradway’s mailbox as well. That brings me to point two..

2. Hire a Legit Football Man to Be GM – Don’t go soft here and promote somebody from within like Scott Cohen. Don’t hire Joey Clinkscales, who was here in charge of our college scouting the past few years when we had awful drafts that brought us players like Vernon Gholston, Kyle Wilson, Mark Sanchez, Shonn Greene, Vlad Ducasse, and John Conner. And please, don’t even consider a complete buffoon like Scott Pioli. We need a forward thinker in this role going forward. Someone who can truly evaluate talent and build a complete roster. The two best candidates out there as far as I can tell would be Mike Maccagnan of the Houston Texans and Eric DeCosta of the Baltimore Ravens. Both have shown an ability to find solid players in the draft and develop talent. Hiring Maccagnan would go a long way toward getting our team back on track. The next step would be making sure you have the right Head Coach to coach up the players our new GM brings in, and that’s part 3, which fortunately will be very simple…

3.  KEEP REX RYAN – See how easy this one was? We already have our Head Coach, and he’s a very good one. There are plenty of fans out there who dislike Rex Ryan and were seemingly waiting for this day to come so they can start bitching and moaning and try and push Rex out the door because “He talks too much!”, which is asinine. Do not listen to those morons. They just want to get a new coach in here so they can start counting down the days until they complain about that one and get him fired so they can say “I sure wish we still had Rex here!” Those are the kind of people who call into Mike Francesa’s show and wait 45 minutes just to agree with him and so they can say “circus” on the radio.

Does Rex talk too much? Maybe. Who cares. I’m more interested in you know, winning games, which Rex has done plenty of prior to this season. He’s been our most successful coach in 40 years, and people want him fired? Please do not listen to them. Make it known Rex Ryan is our coach and do everything you can to get the “real” Rex Ryan back. Make him happy, get his mojo going, and let’s see his bravado again. Rex is a great leader of men and the players love playing for him. Yes, he deserves some blame for what has gone on here, and I think he fully understands that. He’s rex and norvstill growing into his role as Head Coach and he’s more than earned another crack at this thing. He’s perhaps the best defensive coach in the NFL, and he just needs some help on the offensive side of things, which is part 4 of the plan here. Fortunately for you, this part is also pretty simple..

4.  Fire Tony Sparano and Matt Cavanaugh, Hire Norv Turner – Yes, Norv is a complete joke as a Head Coach, we all know that. But there is no doubt he’s an elite offensive coordinator and quarterback developer, which is something we have not had here in… umm… well, in a long time, let’s just say that. So Sunday night when the game in Buffalo ends, and the Chargers game against the Raiders comes to a close, it’s clear what you have to do. Have a meeting with Rex and tell him he’s safe. Hand him the phone and tell him to call Norv Turner and ask how much money he wants to come and be our offensive coordinator. Whatever number Norv says, just go ahead and add a zero to it and make sure he’s on the next plane to Florham Park. While Rex is on the phone wooing Norv, you can make some calls of your own to inform the following people that their services will no longer be required: Mike Tannenbaum, Terry Bradway, Matt Cavanaugh, Tony Sparano, and Dave DeGuglielmo (who is a complete and utter embarrassment). That’s what I call a productive meeting.

5. Avoid Michael Vick. I know it’s going to be hard for you to resist the flashiest quarterback name available this offseason, but you have to do it. In addition to him being a bag of garbage as a human being that will cause a good percentage of fans to never even give him a chance, there’s also the little matter of the ex-convict not being a good football player anymore. Throw in his likely high price tag, and it’s really a poor fit in every way. You’re not going to pay Mark Sanchez $18 million to not play for the Jets next year, so he’s most likely going to be here. Get a smart veteran QB in here who can play and let him and Sanchez battle it out for the starting job next year. It’s not the sexiest option, but it may be the only realistic one. Let’s face it, Tom Brady is not going to be here next year. Nor will Aaron Rodgers, any of the Manning siblings, or Robert Griffin III. We have to make the best of the situation. Plenty of Jets fans would be more than fine with someone like Matt Moore here managing games, we don’t need a big name. If our new General Manager fixes up the offensive line a little bit, re-signs Braylon Edwards, and gets a new starting Running Back, the offense is not that far away at all with Norv Turner running the show.

So there you have it, Woody. Follow those 5 steps and this team can get back on track pretty quickly. I know you care about this team and want to see victories just as bad as we do. I truly believe the team is not that far away from being where we were in 2009 and 2010, and with a few smart moves we can even possibly take that next step. And don’t worry, in the coming weeks I’ll be more than happy to write your new General Manager a letter or two as well and give him some help on who we should be looking at in the draft. Rex Ryan may have said there’s no bigger Jet than him the other day, but believe me… there are plenty of us Jets out there that bleed green, and we just want the best for our beloved football team. I hope this letter finds you soon and you consider what I’ve written. Mike Tannenbaum obviously didn’t read his, and look where he is now. Thanks for your time, and go Jets!

Sincerely,

Mike Donnelly & Jets fans everywhere

Turn On The Jets Week 17 NFL Picks

The TOJ staff gives their picks for week 17 of the NFL Season

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The Race for Steak continues. Considering how in flux the lines are this week, we are going straight (PK) for week 17. The picks will continue into the playoffs next week as well. 

CURRENT STANDINGS

1. Rob Celletti (129-104-7)

2. Chris Gross (121-112-7)

3. Mike Donnelly (118-117-5)

4. Chris Celletti (117-117-6)

5. Joe Caporoso (102-131-7)

Joe Caporoso

Last Week (6-9-1)

  • Buffalo (PK) Jets
  • New England (PK) Miami
  • Baltimore (PK) Cincy
  • Indianapolis (PK) Houston
  • Tennessee (PK) Jacksonville
  • Eagles (PK) Giants
  • Washington (PK) Dallas
  • Chicago (PK) Detroit
  • Minnesota (PK) Green Bay
  • New Orleans (PK) Carolina
  • Denver (PK) Kansas City
  • San Francisco (PK) Arizona
  • Seattle (PK) St. Louis
  • Atlanta (PK) Tampa Bay
  • San Diego (PK) Oakland
  • Pittsburgh (PK) Cleveland

Mike Donnelly

Last Week (6-9-1)

  • Cincinnati
  • Pittsburgh
  • Houston
  • Tennessee
  • Giants
  • Jets
  • Chicago
  • Tampa Bay
  • New Orleans
  • Denver
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Green Bay
  • New England
  • Dallas

Rob Celletti

Last Week (6-9-1)

  • Bills over Jets
  • Patriots over Dolphins
  • Ravens over Bengals
  • Texans over Colts
  • Jaguars over Titans
  • Eagles over Giants
  • Cowboys over Redskins
  • Bears over Lions
  • Packers over Vikings
  • Saints over Panthers
  • Broncos over Chiefs
  • 49ers over Cardinals
  • Seahawks over Rams
  • Falcons over Bucs
  • Steelers over Browns
  • Chargers over Raiders

Chris Celletti

Last Week (6-9-1)

  • Falcons
  • Bills
  • Ravens
  • Bears
  • Texans
  • Saints
  • Eagles
  • Steelers
  • Titans
  • Broncos
  • Packers
  • Patriots
  • Chargers
  • Seahawks
  • 49ers
  • Cowboys

Chris Gross

Last Week (8-7-1)

  • Falcons
  • Bills
  • Bengals
  • Steelers
  • Lions
  • Jaguars
  • Eagles
  • Saints
  • Texans
  • Packers
  • Seahawks
  • Patriots
  • Broncos
  • Chargers
  • 49ers
  • Cowboys

Turn On The Jets 12 Pack, Week 17 – Year End Edition

Turn On The Jets year-end New York Jets 12 Pack – What is going on in Florham Park and who are we saying good-bye to?

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The Turn On The Jets 12 pack is back for one final edition in 2012. Instead of talking about the meaningless game against the Buffalo Bills, we are going to do two things today. First, we are going to cover our understanding of the current situation in Florham Park and venture a few guesses at what happens next week. Second, we are going to give our favorite moment from 12 Jets who will likely be playing their final game with the team this Sunday. 

Currently you have an organization at war with themselves in Florham Park. Everybody is out to save their own job and pulling their respective strings within the media. Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum are done working together. There has been a growing rift between both of them, which is likely going to leave Woody Johnson with a choice. He knows Tannenbaum can’t be retained in his current role, but will he do the right thing and fully cut the cord with him? Or will he take a half measure and just reassign him to a cap specialist role?

Tannenbaum has been actively reaching out to media members trying to spin himself into this role and painting a friendly picture of the Jets salary cap, which is incorrect. If Woody hangs on to Tannenbaum, due to their close working relationship, it is highly unlikely that Rex Ryan will be back and it will be difficult to recruit the type of GM the team needs to rebuild the roster. The Jets need a fresh face, not an in-house candidate (Scott Cohen), a retread (Joey Clinkscales), or a past his prime evaluator who destroyed another team (Scott Pioli). A Tannenbaum return also likely means that Mark Sanchez will stay on the roster, since it is Tannenbaum who traded for him and structured his contract, thus meaning he will give him every last possible chance to succeed.

If Woody fully fires Tannenbaum, the new GM will evaluate Ryan and could decide to hang on to him with a reworked offensive coaching staff. Hopefully, he will also construct a strong personnel department that doesn’t succumb to “groupthink” on draft or player decisions because Rex has publicly claimed responsibility for his share of flawed moves in that area (John Conner, Kyle Wilson, Santonio Holmes, Over reliance on Shonn Greene etc).

At this point, the following should be expected on Monday: Tony Sparano will be fired, with Matt Cavanaugh likely not far behind. Mike Tannenbaum will have his current position changed, either to fired or reassigned to cap specialist. From what we’ve heard no final decision has been reached yet, but If I was betting man (and I hope I’m wrong) Tannenbaum will just be reassigned. After that domino falls, the decision on Rex Ryan will come and further coaching staff and front office shake-ups could take place. It is going to be a very different hierarchy in Florham Park in 2013.

And now our farewell 12 pack to 12 Jets who likely won’t be back in 2013, by commemorating our favorite moment of their time with the team –

1. Bart Scott – Obvious choice here

2. Calvin Pace – Obvious choice here (Hey, that win over New England was the biggest in franchise history outside of Super Bowl III, no?)

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3. Sione Pouha – Remember how much fun Jets football was back in 2010? How excited the crowd was for the Monday Night opener against Baltimore? The first defense play when Shaun Ellis smashed Joe Flacoo and Sione Pouha recovered the fumble? Those were the days…

4. Eric Smith – Way before Eric Smith was chasing after Tim Tebow and Victor Cruz, he put together a strong year as a specialist/reserve in 2009. (I literally can’t believe this highlight tape is on YouTube).

5. Shonn Greene – This is out of hope that nobody with the Jets is foolish enough to give him a new contract. Greene peeked in the 2009 playoffs and has been on a steady decline since. But how about this run?

6. Dustin Keller – It is hard to see Keller back for another year. Mark Sanchez and Dustin Keller…this close to a Super Bowl?

7. Bryan Thomas – Blue-collar and was a valuable player to this team for over a decade. He has had too many good moments just to pick one. We are going to miss you BT!

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8. Jason Smith – All those times you reported eligible was a nice reminder of Mike Tannenbaum’s ineptitude….

9. Tim Tebow – Ha!

10. Mike DeVito – I hope he is brought back. If not, he will be in New England and making plays before you blink your eyes.

11. Matt Slauson/Austin Howard/Brandon Moore – Some combination of you won’t be brought back. Moore has been a warrior for the Jets the past decade and is one of the team’s smartest, most articulate members. Slauson is a decent starting guard who had a bit of a down year in 2012. Howard is a good run blocker but is not reliable at all in pass protection.

12. Mike Tannenbaum – We can only hope…

Turn On The Jets Week 17 Best Bets: Closing Out The Season

Chris Celletti with a rant on Rex Ryan and his final Best Bets of the 2012 NFL regular season

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Just like the Jets, I have nothing to play for (or pick for) this week. My 1-2 record in Week 16 brought my yearly record to a stellar 15-31-2. I always thought this column would net some bad results, but even I didn’t think it would be this bad. Again, sorta like the Jets.

With just three days left until the Jets’ 2012 season mercifully comes to an end, the reports and rumors are swirling about anything and everything this point. The latest report – which came from Manish Mehta of The Daily News, who operates only slightly more in certainty and facts than the Mayans or that Rapture dude – has Rex Ryan wanting out if owner Woody Johnson doesn’t open up the checkbook and fix the team’s problems on offense. In order for the Jets to really change things on offense, this means changes at offensive coordinator, starting quarterback, and probably about four of five out of the 11 starting offensive players total.

Of course, this makes plenty of sense. Rex Ryan isn’t dumb (well, I’m not exactly so sure about that, but…). He knows that if the Jets bring back both Tony Sparano, Mark Sanchez and don’t make any significant personnel changes on offense, then the 2013 Jets will quite closely resemble the 2012 Jets. If that happens, he’ will likely be fired after next season. So Rex Ryan is crying to ownership to fix the offense or just fire him now, because what the hell? He’d rather go blabber on ESPN for a season then take over as the Head Coach in Detroit in 2014 than deal with another minute of coaching this Jets team.

Maybe I’m the only one laughing and shaking my head here. Does Rex Ryan, and do his staunch supporters, fail to see that he’s also responsible for the deterioration of this team, of the team’s offense? I know, I know “Mike Tannenbaum is the GM! He picks the players while Rex shows up in August and is like ‘Wait, we have LaRon Landry? WHO KNEW?!'” “Rex is a defensive coach!” “Rex never wanted Tebow!” “Rex is the next coming of Tom Landry if he’d only be surrounded by great talent and great offensive coaching!”

The Jets’ demise from contenders to mess is an overall organizational failure. Stop pretending that Rex Ryan isn’t a part of that. He’s the head coach of the team. Doesn’t anybody else find it hilarious that – if true – the head coach of a football team would be begging his owner to help him fix the offense? If the Giants’ defense became all-time bad, would Tom Coughlin cry to John Mara to fix the side of the ball he knows nothing about? Oh wait, that would never happen because Tom Coughlin, while an offensively-trained coach, is also a FOOTBALL coach (much like Tim Tebow is, you know, a FOOTBALL player), who has a damn good feel about every aspect of the entire sport. Thing is, the Giants defense would never get that bad under Coughlin, because he’d see it coming a mile away and start fixing it before it got to the point where it could cripple his team. Rex Ryan has zero feel for offense, and something that’s malicious in the NFL in 2012, he has zero feel for the quarterback position. Have you watched how Rex Ryan has handled this QB disaster in 2012?

Okay, Tim Tebow was thrown on him by ownership so the Jets could steal some headlines. We all understand that. Then how come after the Jets made the Tebow trade, Rex talked up Tebow’s potential in the Wildcat and all that? Remember Rex proclaiming that there could be games where he’d get 15-20 snaps in the Wildcat? Here’s how a smart coach who had a clue about how important your quarterback is in the NFL would have handled the Tebow mess from the start:

“Tim’s a really versatile player who is our clear back up quarterback. The great thing about having Tim is that you’re able to use him in a few different ways than you could with other backups. He could add a wrinkle to our offense and we may be able to use him in certain special teams situations too. And if Mark ever unfortunately gets hurt and can’t go, we can start a guy who has won games recently in the league.”

No proclamations about Tebow being a major part of the team. No mapping out snap totals. No public endangering of Mark Sanchez’s job. For a guy whose greatest strength as a coach might have been his way to play the media to his team’s advantage, Rex Ryan couldn’t have handled the Tebow mess any worse. And I personally think that the way this QB situation was handled all season is a huge reason the Jets will finish with a losing record this season.

If you follow my columns at all you’ll recall that I think Rex Ryan is a defensive coordinator masquerading as a head coach. The Ground-And-Pound ethos is an archaic bunch of garbage that no title-winner in the past 10 years has subscribed to. The league is different these days, and there is no place at the summit of an NFL sideline for a guy who has no feel for modern offense. Your defense better be the ’85 Bears or the 2000 Ravens in order to win with a middling offense. We know the Jets defense is good but it’s nowhere near all-time good.

And after all that, I accept and am okay with Ryan being back next season as head coach. If I were running the team he would be gone, but I’m not going to act like he’s Rich Kotite or something. The Jets have made deep playoff runs under his lead (although I think the case can be made that he took over Eric Mangini’s teams and the more and more he’s gotten his handprints on this franchise, it’s gotten worse). The idea of fixing the Jets’ offense is the right one. Rex can coach a defense that’s good enough to win a title even with mediocre talent. The Jets need to spend money on an offensive rebuild to have any chance of being successful.

Ryan has the right idea. It’s just amazing to me that he has to ask his owner to do the fixing for him. But he needs the help. He can’t do it himself. He doesn’t know enough about it. That’s not a good place to be in the NFL in in 2012, 2013 and beyond.

And now, mercifully, the final picks of the season:

Eagles +7 at Giants – I’m more rooting for this than anything, okay.

Packers -3 at Vikings – The Packers are playing for something. Oh yeah, also, nobody is really talking about the Packers, who are going to win the Super Bowl this season.

Bears -3 at Lions – Remember when the Lions were good? That was fun.

Bonus Non-NFL Bet of the Week (Record: 6-9-1) – Alabama -10 vs. Notre Dame. Notre Dame sucks.

Thanks for reading all season. I promise my picks next year will be not worse.

Happy 2013. May you break all your resolutions by January 8th.

New York Jets – Of Course Mark Sanchez Is Starting This Week

Of course the New York Jets are starting Mark Sanchez this week

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For some reason many people were surprised at Rex Ryan announcing that Mark Sanchez is going to be the New York Jets starting quarterback this Sunday in Buffalo. At this point, nothing related to the Jets quarterback situation should surprise anybody. Greg McElroy has a concussion? Maybe. He was sacked 11 times on Sunday. It is understandable if he held off telling the coaching staff until this point as he knew this could be his last chance to start a game for awhile. Sadly, you could argue that it is equally as feasible that the front office told Rex Ryan to find a way to sit McElroy and get Mark Sanchez one last start. Who knows at this point?

With McElroy out of the picture, it becomes a no-brainer to start Sanchez over Tim Tebow. Why? Look at both their contracts. Look at both their situations. Tim Tebow isn’t coming back next year. He isn’t going anywhere but Jacksonville, whether it is via trade of a late round pick or simply being released and signed by them. There is nothing to gained from having him start from the front office perspective.

Mark Sanchez is owed over 8 million dollars next year. He could stay or go, depending on who is in charge. If he plays well, maybe he builds some confidence heading into a quarterback battle with a veteran next year. If he plays well, maybe it is a little easier to convince some team to take him for a 7th round pick if the Jets agree to pay the overwhelming majority of the contract. If he doesn’t play well…what else is new?

There is no reason for an uproar either way. It doesn’t matter if Sanchez or Tebow plays well on Sunday because it is a meaningless game against an awful defense. Anybody who puts any stock into a performance, good or bad, from Sunday’s game is a fool.

So enjoy one last spin on the circus carousel because come Monday the firings begin. The only thing Jets fans should be rooting for right now is for Mike Tannenbaum to get fired, not reassigned. Who cares about Sunday?

4 Years Later, 3 Similar Problems Plague New York Jets

TJ Rosenthal on the New York Jets being plagued with 3 of the same problems they were back in 2007

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The New York Jets flipped the script from self-pitying losers to Super Bowl contenders during Rex Ryan’s first two seasons. As the 2012 season has slipped into oblivion, though, warm fuzzy feelings related to how the honeymoon originally felt, have become harder to conjure up. It has become fashionable nowadays, as the 6-9 Jets close their season on Sunday, to question whether the club is better off now than it was four years ago. When Woody Johnson replaced Eric Mangini and Brett Favre with Ryan and Mark Sanchez. Three major issues still plague the Jets. What type of head coaching persona best fits the team going forward, who the QB should be, and how the Patriots can be toppled.

Many people forget that Mangini was once perceived as the “Mangenius.” A brilliant Bill Belichick disciple during his first season (in 2006 when the 10-6 Jets returned to the playoffs after a 4-12 year under Herm Edwards in 2005) whose rigid, secretive, and stoic ways only became a detriment when the Jets crashed late in 2008.

Ryan then came barrelling through the doors in 2009 as the loud, brash, AFC Championship-level coach. A made for media character seemingly prepared to lead the organization out of it’s “Same Old Jets” mentality permanently. His present-day state as the humbled, neutered uber-loyal figurehead, has some diehards who all once loved him, wondering if he is the right man for the job going forward.

With reports surfacing now that the Jets are already searching for a new GM to replace Mike Tannenbaum, the Jets will once again be staring down a predicament they faced in early ’09 regarding the HC postion: What type of mindset, X’s and 0’s approach and personal skills best fit a model that aims for long-term success.

In 2008 out of nowhere, Brett Favre replaced Chad Pennington at quarterback in training camp. The shotgun wedding with the future hall of famer started out beautifully, but ended in disaster. As the 8-3 Jets fell victim to a stubborn Favre. Whose undisclosed arm injury left the club (that eventually fell to 9-7) hostage to a consecutive game streak that Favre refused to relinquish.

The Jets were happy after that late season crash to let Favre head to Minnesota. Mark Sanchez then became the franchise quarterback and instant starter after being selected in 2009.  After a modest yet victorious start that began with a 4-2 playoff record in just two seasons, Sanchez’s career has gone from promising to second string.

With or without a new GM calling the shots, the Jets, as they did following the Favre experiment, appear ready to finally give up on the notion that Sanchez can guide them without challenge for years upon end. A new starter for the Jets in 2013 almost seems like an inevitability at this point.

Then there are the Patriots. In ‘08 the Dolphins shocked many by winning the AFC East. This thanks ironically both to Pennington’s guidance as the new Miami QB, and something the innovative Dolphins called the Wildcat formation. That anomaly of a year aside, the Pats have been the NFL’s most successful regular season team for over a decade. As well as the biggest thorn in the Jets side. Having won the division in ten of the last twelve years.

They are 11-4 this year. With a legendary head coach in Belichick who is as motivated to win as he was when he first left Bill Parcells and the Jets at the podium in back 2000, in order to rejoin Robert Kraft in Foxboro.

The Jets and Ryan believed that by now, they would be the ones in the penthouse. So much for wishful thinking. Soon the  Jets will again assume the unenviable role of having to view their own their parts based on what it will take to overtake Brady and Co.

After the Buffalo game ends, the GM question is answered, and the Tim Tebow error is dealt with, the Jets will have to answer the same three key problems they had hoped to solve in January of 2009. “What type of coaching style best suits us now, who should be the quarterback, and how do we finally take down the Patriots? “

New York Jets – Waiting For The Insanity To End

The final days of the New York Jets 2012 season cannot pass fast enough

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There are plenty of bad football teams in the NFL this season. There are teams with worse records than the New York Jets despite having more talent. There are teams who have gotten blown out or been less competitive on a more frequent basis than the New York Jets. Regardless, it is hard to fathom another situation where the season ending will be greeted more happily than this organization and their fan-base.

Rex Ryan press conferences, once entertaining highlights throughout the week of winning seasons, have turned into bumbling, confusing explanations about quarterback depth charts and activation theories. Rex and the rest of the Jets staff is coaching like they don’t expect to be back next year. How else do you explain young players and rookies being glued to the bench in meaningless games? How else do you explain the complete discord between the staff, the front office and even the offense and defense?

The Jets franchise has devolved into “everybody save themselves” mode, as they all desperately try to shift blame and save their jobs. It is sickening to watch such a lack of organization, discipline and vision. As we have previously alluded to, there are no half measures when it comes to fixing these kinds of problems. They require a reevaluation of direction and a fresh set of eyes on the roster.

A clean break doesn’t mean bringing Bill Parcells back for a consulting role, since he has previous working relationships with Mike Tannenbaum and Terry Bradway. Bring in somebody fresh and hungry to prove themselves as a personnel evaluator and General Manager. Mike Maccagnan from Houston was the right idea, just give him the freedom to do the job without Tannenbaum’s interference.

This organization desperately needs to move past the Tim Tebow circus sideshow act. It needs to move past Mark Sanchez who was set up to fail the previous two years and did just that in spectacular fashion. The old faces from the 2009 and 2010 AFC Championship Game runs need to be sent packing: Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, Eric Smith, Shonn Greene, Dustin Keller and if possible Santonio Holmes among others. Rex Ryan might have to go as well, that needs to be strictly the call of the new General Manager. Right now, Rex doesn’t carry himself like somebody who believes he will back next year or even really wants to be back at all.

The Jets finish up their season in Buffalo this Sunday in a glorified exhibition game against another disappointing team from their division. Yet, the real entertainment will be in the following days. When will the end of season press conference be scheduled? Who will even run it? How many days until Tony Sparano is fired and who from the offensive staff will get the ax with him? It will be an active January of speculation and hopefully front office/coaching staff turnover from the Jets, likely supported by endless anonymous quote stories ran in the Daily News. The only hope is when the dust settles, there are more competent decision makers in place.

This is an obviously critical off-season for the Jets, where a cleaning up of the salary cap needs to take place while attempting to begin the process of starting to fill the numerous holes across the roster. The team will have a top 15 pick in the first round and a pick in every round after that. They cannot afford early round misses and need to find immediate contributors, likely on the offensive line, at outside linebacker and at running back. In free agency, they are going to have to hit with smart, low-cost deals.

The most important thing the Jets do this off-season will be finding a way to improve their self-scouting, which of course means getting people like Tannenbaum and Bradway away from decision making. No more mistaking Shonn Greene for a lead back. No more mistaking Wayne Hunter for a starting right tackle. Look at the roster, find the capable pieces and build around them, while cutting ties with the rest.

New York Jets – No Half Measures

The New York Jets can’t take any “half measures” when it comes to rebuilding this off-season

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Jason La Confora is reporting the New York Jets are starting the process of acquiring a new General Manager. Good news, right? Wrong. Woody Johnson apparently wants the new GM to work with Mike Tannenbaum who will be demoted to a salary cap management type position. Not surprisingly, no credible candidates are interested in such a foolish arrangement.

I love writing and sometimes that leads me to carry on when writing about this team but let’s keep this succinct today, since it is the holidays and this situation is so idiotic it doesn’t deserve that many words.

Making Mike Tannenbaum strictly a salary cap specialist is like making Mark Sanchez a quarterback coach. He has destroyed our salary cap by giving Sanchez arguably the worst contract in sports right now. He has no merit for this position.

No GM that you want running your football team, like Houston’s Director of College Scouting Mike Maccagnan, who has been approached is going to have any interest in this type of power sharing arrangement. As our source has stated all season, Woody and Tannenbaum have a close working relationship and no GM who will want Tannnbaum looking over his shoulder on every move.

Why can’t this organization just flat out fire anybody? Former GM Terry Bradway was just demoted into scouting after an awful tenure, where he could continue to hurt the Jets with his poor personnel decisions. Former Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton, who was awful at his job was only demoted to linebackers coach. Current quarterback coach Matt Cavanaugh stil hasn’t been fired for some ungodly reason. You need to fire ineffective people. Get them completely out of the building.

The Jets are a disaster right now. Woody Johnson can’t be that blind not to see that. The solution is simple. Fire Mike Tannenbaum. Fire Terry Bradway. Fire Tony Sparano. Fire Matt Cavanaugh. Allow the newly hired GM to make the decision on Rex Ryan and go from there.

Happy Holidays everybody!