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


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!


Mike Donnelly & Jets fans everywhere

Author: Mike Donnelly

Mike Donnelly is a Staff Writer and life-long Jets fan, who was previously a featured columnist at multiple other New York Jets and fantasy football websites. He lives and works in finance in the NYC area and will help lead our Jets and NFL coverage in 2013.

  • pam deangelus

    I totally agree with everything you had to say about jets personnel. It is a well-formed, in-depth analysis of what has happened; and a clear-cut, easy to enact blue-print for the future. I have been a jet fan since 1965 (hence my e-mail address); and a 19-yr season ticket holder (until the PSL). Thank you TOJ for being there to watch the games with. I hope this finds it’s way to Woody Johnson

  • FrankieTheJet

    Great writing. Very funny, yet so true! Hope somehow Woody actually reads it. He won’t listen, but…

  • Jay2

    Agree! I would also give a stern reminder to Rex that the team is more important than personal relationships with a certain player or coach! Performance is the only thing that matters! I’d go so far to ask him what Buddy would have done to an offensive player with 5 turnovers in a game?! Considering that Buddy not only cursed out his OC Kevin Gilbride shortly before halftime as the Oilers played the Jets in 1994, but also punched him after their QB Cody Carlson lost a fumble.

  • Derek

    This sums it up perfectly… Maybe we can get a movement on twitter for Woody to read it today lol #DearWoody

  • Chispa

    Agree 100%

  • Dave2220

    Right on target! Need a GM, the DeCosta might be the right guy. Knowledge of Rex would be a bonus!

  • Anthony

    The truth of the matter is that this team has been drastically over-performing for 4 years. Those AFC Championship teams were not especially talented squads, that were probably over coached. Rex does a phenomenal job preparing this defense over the past few years. The fact is, we simply are not at the level of a Baltimore in terms of talent evaluation.

    I would kill to see what this team could do with a better than avg team in terms of talent, but in this league, in sports in general, I think we really needed this season to tank.

    With regards to norv, I think he would help, but let me throw another name out there, Andy Reid.

    When a list of the most brilliant offensive minds of this generation comes up, surely his name should be near the top. Norv probably fits that ground and pound mentality, but Andy goes all the way back to the Steve Young/Joe Montana SF teams, through to the Brett Favre GB teams and onto the doorsteps of a Super Bowl with Donavan Mcnabb.

    Plus a West Coast type balanced offense probably suits this team better than a down field chucking ground and pound game that you clearly need a strong RB/pass catching TE, vertical leaping WRs, along with a QB capable of making those deep throws.

    We need a balanced approach to the offense, but more than the players, we need a smart person in charge of the offense, Andy is that.

  • Coach

    Well, you all got your wish as I write this on Black Monday. I too am very excited that the JETS kept Old Rexy because he will keep the JETS in the bowels of the NFL for a long time. You call him a “great D-Coach, a Great Leader?? His team has quit on him two years in a row! He has “lost” the locker room in each of the past 2 years. This is a coach who is good when things are going well. He makes a fool of himself on the sidelines week after week. Jets fans always talk about his defensive prowess, he is a “good” D-coordinator NOT great. He consistently gets out coached in his own division. Even in the 2 “lucky” years they reached the conference championships they backed in, year one and easily could have been 8-8 year two if it weren’t for some of the most ridiculous plays I have ever seen from their opponents, i.e. Browns, Lions, Texans, each team had the lead and the ball and just gave them the game in the final minute. Good luck JETS fans. As a Colts fan I am very grateful they kept Old Rexy. Perhaps you can turn around next season and get back to 8-8.

  • Mike Donnelly

    Actually he didn’t lose the locker room or have the team quit on him at all this year. Every single player attested to that, adamantly. They also said they’d be pissed if he was fired and several said off the record that they’d be more inclined to follow Rex elsewhere to play for him than stay here should he have been fired.

    Next, it’s pretty funny you want to take Rex’s wins away because they were “lucky”? I’m sure you don’t hold the Giants or other teams to the same standard when it comes to “luck”, right? Or your Colts.. how about some of their “lucky” wins this year, should they not count? That’s just a completely ridiculous thing to say. Thanks for the input though.

  • I agree with everything in this letter , but to add to it please look into getting rid of santonio Holmes, dude seems like a terrible teammate.try and trade up in draft for geno smith. The kid has some serious talent and in his collegiate career guy keeps getting better, and as u see how a good quarterback can change a whole team. For example Indy, Washington , Seattle and so on. Maybe look for a Chris Johnson and a Dwayne bowe or a Greg Jennings and lets make it back to the playoffs. Rex and the d will only be better when revis comes back and Wilkerson and couples together another year…. Lets gooooooo jets baby. Sorry mark we have all seen enough.

  • Coach

    Thanks for the response. The Colts have made the playoffs 10 out of the last 11 years. That is NOT luck. One transition year and they are back. Youngest team in the NFL this season playing 8 first year players out of 22 starters. That is how a strong organization operates. The JETS are a long way from the Colts and in my opinion as long as they keep Old Rexy they will continue to be.

  • Mike Donnelly

    Coach, i respectfully disagree. So the Colts are one of the worst franchises for years and years, bottom out and luck into Peyton Manning and you think the coaches and front office get credit for that? The one year he missed they went 2-14 because of the poor talent and coaching, and lo and behold they got lucky to get the top pick the year Andrew Luck came out. So please, spare me any talk about the Colts not being lucky over that stretch.

    Give Rex Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck and I’m sure you’d have a drastically different opinion of his coaching ability…

  • Joe Caporoso

    Coach and Mike – Good to see you guys talking! Coach, I have to agree with Mike, if Rex had Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck in 2009 and 2010 instead of Mark Sanchez – He has 1 or 2 Super Bowls. He was within a half both times with a below average QB. Manning is a first ballot Hall of Fame player. Luck is arguably the best rookie QB since Manning. Rex has his flaws, trust me I agree with that, but you can’t erase the success he had and the playoff victories. Call it luck. Call it whatever. It is no small task winning in New England in January against a 14-2 team. The Jets have bigger problems than Rex, namely a QB issue. If you have a QB, a ton of the other problems go away. Give me one year of Rex with an elite QB and you will see a team in contention

  • tommy n

    I agree with Joe.

    Im a long time jets fan and its been a struggle throughout all these years to understand some of the moves that have been made especially at the quarterback position.

    In 2009, it was clearly a year that was designed to make a playoff run with the personnel that was our lineup. We were defensively loaded with a special unit….. Our special teams was solid. We lacked two areas that kept us from the super bowl, safety and quarterback positions. The 2009-2010 years were exciting for Jets fans but I took alot of abuse for the critique of Mark Sanchez as our qb. There is nothing wrong with drafting a quarterback and having him sit under an experienced qb’s guidance. Many great QB’s have done this… If we just had an average qb with some experience in that 2009 year, we probably would have went to the super bowl and maybe even had a shot at the title. I never agreed with the pick up of mark and I got ridiculed for my beliefs since we drafted him. I heard ” your wrong” ” give him time”.. The problem with this is anyone that could see his lack of field awareness and vision knew that this was NOT a quarterback of the future. I stuck with my comments about Sanchez and said after the 2009 season that this would be the decision that would set us back for 5 years.

    We sit now in 2013, four years later, and my assumptions all came to fruition. We lost good, skilled players. The team is completely fed up. You have a defense that is frustrated with an offense that cant stay on the field long enough to give them a break. A quarterback no matter what he does wrong, is not his fault. He has more excuses made for him than any other player in NFL history. This drives teammates against teammates no matter what anyone says. Now as we sit in 2013, if Sanchez hasn’t cost enough money, we have to deal with him for yet another year as we owe him another 8.25 million and some more in 2014. Hopefully, the firing of tannebaum was because of this and the message gets clearly conveyed to the players in the locker room that Sanchez will not be playing this year and Tanne is gone because of that extension.

    Lets face it. Sanchez may have all the talent in the world on the practice field, however, practice is not the game. The game moves too fast for him, he cant read defenses and if you cant read a defense, you cant play in the NFL. If you remember back to the draft class of Tom Brady, the same draft class that we passed on him, there were 6 other better quarterback than Brady. 6 better Skilled players. The 49ers had the best of all 6, Carmazzi, a sure superstar, he just couldnt hack it. They didnt spend 4 years trying to figure this out like we did with Sanchez. Carmazzi didnt have the time that Sanchez did and not many do. Why does this kid still get these chances? Who is responsible for this? The NFL is a one shot business. Two afc appearances does not make him a good quarterback. We actually won in spite of his play. If we remember the 2009 season, we shouldnt have even been in the playoffs if Indy doesnt take out their starters and the same with Cincy. If we dont go to the playoffs in 2009 would the decision to keep Sanchez be the same? A single decision costs the franchise for a long time and not being honest about a mediocre 2009 season camouflaged by an afc title game is very shortsighted. Its why we are where we are.

    In this league it starts and ends with a quarterback. Look at all the team in the playoff this season. All solid at the quarterback position. If we dont get over the Sanchez love on this team we will not be able to move forward. Until the Jets realize this, then we can start a new. Until this becomes the case we will be stuck forever in the hell we call our Jets!