New York Jets GM John Idzik – Ready For New York Jets Rebuild?

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“He’s going to do what’s best for the club, period. He’s not going to get bullied or pushed around whether it’s media influence or whatever.”- Seahawks GM John Schneider

When the New York Jets hired John Idzik as the franchise’s general manager, of fans were just thrilled that it wasn’t Scott Cohen and to be rid of “Trader Mike” Tannenbaum. The New York media tried to paint Idzik as strictly a capologist from the Seattle Seahawks with no knowledge of drafting or scouting players, a reputation that didn’t initially endear him to the fan base. Idzik was actually called a “Mike Tannenbaum clone” before even being introduced. However, have no fear Jet Nation because we at TOJ believe that Woody Johnson hired the right man for the job. Let’s take a look at Idzik’s career in NFL front offices and what that can mean for the Jets rebuilding process.

Career

Idzik began his front office career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1993, first as a Pro Personnel Assistant before being elevated to Assistant General Manager in 2001. However, before joining the Bucs front office Idzik worked for Duke University as a graduate assistant coach, working primarily with running backs and the offensive line in 1991 and 1992. In fact, Idzik’s first coaching assignment was as a Wide Receivers coach at SUNY-Buffalo in 1982, and in 1990 he was the offensive backfield coach (our version of the running backs coach) for the Aberdeen Oilers (Scotland) of the British American Football League. After finishing his second year as a coach at Duke, he joined the Bucs where he spent 11 years with the team. In 2004, Idzik was hired by the Arizona Cardinals as Senior Director of Football Operations and spent three seasons working in their front office before being hired by the Seattle Seahawks in 2007. Idzik spent the last 6 seasons in Seattle before being hired by Woody Johnson to lead the Jets rebuild.

Key Moves Made

Member of front offices that drafted the following players: 

  • Derrick Brooks
  • Warren Sapp
  • John Lynch
  • Warrick Dunn
  • Trent Dilfer
  • Mike Alstott
  • Donnie Abraham
  • Ronde Barber
  • Al Harris
  • Larry Fitzgerald
  • Darnell Dockett
  • Karlos Dansby
  • Antrel Rolle
  • Russell Okung
  • Earl Thomas
  • Kam Chancellor
  • Golden Tate
  • Max Unger
  • Richard Sherman
  • Bruce Irvin
  • Bobby Wagner
  • Russell Wilson

Member of the front office that signed the following players:

  • Brad Johnson
  • Marshawn Lynch (after acquiring him in a trade with Buffalo)

What Does This Mean for the Jets Rebuild

As Jets fan, we’ve gone through one draft and almost an entire offseason led by Idzik, and we’ve seen him get great value with his draft picks and make some low risk, high reward signings. Geno Smith, the draft’s best QB, at 39? A future starter on the offensive line, Brian Winters, in the 3rd round? Trading for Chris Ivory? Signing Kellen Winslow, Jr.? Idzik knows value, whether it is in the draft or free agency. If you look back at the drafts that he’s been a part of as either Assistant General Manager (with TB) or Senior Director of Football Operations (with ARZ) or Vice President of Football Operations (with SEA), he’s always taken a value based approach. He’s been part of front offices that had more hits (Okung, Fitzgerald, Dockett, Sapp, J. Lynch) than misses (Leinart, Engram) and he’s gotten great value out of day 2 and day 3 selections (Sherman, Wilson, Chancellor, Harris, and Barber). He, also, hasn’t hesitated to make a big free agent signing when needed (Brad Johnson) or swing a trade for a position of need (Marshawn Lynch).

The Jets will have 11-14 draft picks next year (once the compensatory picks are calculated), plus approximately $35-40 million dollars in cap space. Idzik will not hesitate to use the surplus of draft picks to either fill holes in an improving Jets roster or move up to target a player that the Jets covet.

One part of Idzik’s background that has been ignored is his background as a position coach at the college level. I understand that Duke isn’t the University of Miami during their Larry Coker run in the late 90s, nor are they Alabama under Nick Saban. However, Idzik’s work on a coaching level is something that will come into play when scouting for future drafts because he’ll actually be able to get on the field and work these players out himself so he can formulate his own opinion. I also understand that Idzik didn’t make all of these decisions to draft and sign these players himself. However, he has played an important role coaching skill positions, in the player negotiations, tracking a team’s adherence to the NFL salary cap, player transactions, staff and team contracts, and the day-to-day football operations throughout his entire career. All of Idzik’s experience will help him accelerate this rebuild and return the Jets to a quality football team.

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  • Chinashoptoro

    Let me start by saying that I’m a fan of the Idzik hire. I liked the draft: he stayed put, maximized value and brought in 6 (if you include Ivory) potential starters for the franchise, at least 4 of which have the ability to be impactful. I also love the way he approached free agency by handing out several one-year deals that allow for upside this year, while maintaining flexibility in the future. And I liked the Goodson signing. Think of that deal compared to what Leon wanted before we traded him to Idzik and the Seahawks… which brings me to my point. In every article about Idzik (whether here or on thejetsblog or in the MSM, etc…), people write about the drafts and free-agent signings in Seattle and to a lesser extent Arizona and TB as if Idzik was the GM. He wasn’t. You mention that he was part of these front offices, but then go on to write “he’s gotten great value out of day 2 and day 3 selections”, “He, also, hasn’t hesitated to make a big free agent signing when needed”, “or swing a trade for a position of need.”
    Just be careful when filling out his resume. Not only was he not the only cook in those kitchens, he also wasn’t the head chef.

  • Harold

    I too belive in Idzik. I think we got lucky that he was not more highly sought after. I think he will do and has been doing an excellent job for the Jets.

  • Dan

    File me under cautiously optimistic. I’m interested to see what route he takes next offseason when we have a lot more cap room. I’m hoping he stays patient instead of blowing everything on a handful of flashy free agents a la Miami/Buffalo.

    Who saw SF or SEA coming two years ago? No one. They stayed quiet and acquired talent strategically over time. Now both are built to be competitive for the long haul. Hopefully, Idzik sticks to that model over the next few years.

    Fingers crossed.

  • Jetsluva

    I’ve seen enough. After the mistakes of the past I don’t know how Jets fans aren’t fully on board with Idzik after what he’s already done. This franchise is already setup for a long run of success even tho the media hasn’t caught on yet to what is going on with this franchise.

    Idzik had a very good draft and he’s got another shot at it next year. I think this team is going to be better than expected by the media and some fans who are beaten down by the losing and poor management over the years. They need to let it go. This is a new day and this team has a lot of up and coming players on the roster and more picks and FA signings coming next year. This team is in a good spot for the future.

  • Hans

    As someone who was initially hesitant with the hiring of Idzik (I was a Sundquist guy admittedly), I am glad that things turned out the way that they did. He sweetened my mood towards him with his opening day press conference, saying all the right things. He complimented that by making low-risk deals, and then further accelerated that with a solid draft. Idzik was not the only cook in the Tampa, ‘zona, or Seattle kitchens in the slightest. However, he’s apprenticed for a long time and has had a chance to learn from some of the best in the business. And now, it’s paying off in our favor. Let’s hope this trend continues.

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