The simultaneous roster changes that marked Geno Smith’s arrival and Tim Tebow’s exit show that John Idzik’s Jets do not value ESPN cameras, newspaper headlines and jersey sales over the notion of putting pieces in place to win. The Jets never had a plan for Tebow beyond hoping and praying that his abilities could somehow find a functional place within a sixty minute game. Smith was drafted last week by Idzik to win a job now, and with the circus dwindling in size, the big question that remains is whether Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez, the two notable Mike Tannenbaum-era pieces can survive the purge.
Sanchez has a monster contract making him hard to move but a home stadium waiting to tar and feather him at the sight of one ill thrown ball. Sanchez may be growing a tag as someone who was part of a past the Idzik Jets want to separate themselves from. Could his release or a training camp trade involving him be the next part of the plan, should he fail to present himself as a viable starter in camp?
Ryan must try and become the next Marvin Lewis. Fast. The Bengals HC who is 79-84 overall, nonetheless survived the Carson Palmer to Andy Dalton transition by keeping his club inspired and growing through the transition.
Ryan’s record is 34-30. Four games over .500. He has won more playoff games than Bill Belichick has since becoming Jets head coach in 2009. Now he must show that he can be the right personality and leader for the new generation of Jets. One that is preparing to do most of it’s talking on the field, not off it.
In Smith, the Jets are hoping that they can benefit from the new mobile quarterback.
Tebow’s signing never exuded that same purpose. Few if any could understand why, aside from his knack for winning in unorthodox ways, adding him made sense at all. Sanchez was fragile emotionally and certainly didn’t need Tebowmania in his face as he worked to learn a new system under Tony Sparano. The Jets needed receivers and running backs not backup quarterbacks, at the time Tebow was traded for.
The bizarre acquisition, highlighted by an unprecedented news conference for a second string player, had to mean one thing. That Woody Johnson was more concerned with riding Tebow’s popularity than he was of the downside publicly and team chemistry wise. With legions of fans and press members mocking the Jets all season long for grabbing Tebow just to capitalize financially on the attention.
All that is in the past now as Smith enters the scene while Tebow leaves it. The clown car is growing more spacious. Less bodies are jammed inside its doors. Tebow is gone. Darrelle Revis and the fear of another holdout, is gone. Tannenbaum, gone.
By this time next year the circus that defined the 2012 Jets will be a distant memory, Ryan and Sanchez may be on their last chance to blend in and be part of the new drama-less approach too, before their time is up in New York as well.