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.