Ranking The Last Five New York Jets General Managers

Joe Belic ranks the New York Jets last five General Managers…

Nothing could faze me: a car alarm waking me up in the dead of night, an unexpected flat tire in the middle of nowhere, or a stand still traffic jam on the West Side Highway.  The Jets got their guy, Joe Douglas. Joe arrives in Florham Park with quite the resume: he worked with master talent evaluator Ozzie Newsom, Howie Roseman—the best “contract guy” in the NFL—and was part of 3 Super Bowl victories. He also played a role in drafting newly acquired Jets, CJ Mosley and Kelechi Osemele.  A new era has begun with much optimism and a rejuvenated fanbase, but how did we get here? As a tribute to the past, I did an analysis of the last five regimes, ranking them from best to worst.

1) Bill “The Big Tuna” Parcells (1997-2000):

Head Coach: Bill Parcells (1997-1999), Al Groh (2000)

Record: 38-26

Playoffs: 1998 AFC Championship

Noteworthy Acquisitions: Kevin Mawae, Curtis Martin, Vinny Testaverde, Bryan Cox, Otis Smith, Ray Lucas, Keith Byars, Ernie Logan, Rick Lyle, Steve Atwater and John Hall

Noteworthy Drafted Players: James Farrior (Round 1, 1997), Jason Ferguson (Round 7, 1997), Jerald Sowell (Round 7, 1997), Jason Fabini (Round 4, 1998), Randy Thomas (Round 2, 1999), Shaun Ellis (Round 1, 2000), John Abraham (Round 1, 2000), Chad Pennington (Round 1, 2000), Anthony Becht (Round 1, 2000) and Laveranues Coles (Round 3, 2000)

Best Pick: Shaun Ellis

Worst Pick: Rick Terry

Bill was a great coach and acquired some solid players to join the Jets roster in pursuit of a Super Bowl. However, his prowess as a talent evaluator, while with the Jets, isn’t as distinguished as some may believe. Arguably, from a drafting perspective, Parcells’ rule as general manager from 1997-1999 could be one of the worst in the history of the Jets. The vast majority of his 39 picks were complete failures.

The 2000 draft was Parcells’ saving grace; 3 of the 4 probowlers he selected came from this period: Ellis, Abraham and Coles. His other pro-bowler, James Farrior, succeeded as a Steeler. The 2000 draft was truly foundational for the Jets, resulting in playoff appearances in 2001, 2002 and 2004 mostly because of the players Bill picked that year.

Bill’s reign wasn’t without controversy. The napkin resignation of future Patriots Head Coach, Bill Belichick, is something that’s lived on infamy. According to sources at Sports Illustrated, Belichick had some reservations about the Jets change of ownership and requested permission to interview with the Patriots. An argument ensued and an angered Parcells warned Belichick that he wouldn’t allow him to interview with any team. Subsequently, Belichick resigned and the rest is history.

In 1997, “The Big Tuna” failed to reel in another big fish, Peyton Manning.  Sources close to the situation noted that Peyton requested confirmation from Bill that he was “his guy.” Without verification from Bill, the young signal called remained ambivalent about his decision and ultimately returned to college.  The Jets traded the number one overall pick that year to the St. Louis Rams, who selected future Hall of Famer Orlando Pace.

Bill didn’t do the best job managing funds either. He doled out some hefty contracts to Bryan Cox, Steve Atwater and Eric Green with a championship in mind.  This left the Jets with cap management issues several years following his departure.

Although Parcells never took the Jets to the “promised land,” he left behind intangibles that can’t be found on any stat sheet: hope, optimism, possibility and faith.

2) Mike Tannenbaum (2006-2012):

Head Coach: Eric Mangini (2006-2008) and Rex Ryan (2009-2012)

Record: 57-55

Playoffs: 2006 Wild Card, 2009 and 2010 AFC Championships

Noteworthy acquisitions: Brett Favre, Alan Faneca, Damien Woody, Bart Scott, LaDanian Tomlinson, Thomas Jones, Kris Jenkins, Jim Leonhard, Antonio Cromartie and Calvin Pace

Noteworthy drafted players: D’ Brickashaw Ferguson (Round1, 2006), Nick Mangold (Round 1, 2006), Leon Washington (Round 4, 2006), Darrelle Revis (Round 1, 2007), David Harris (Round 2, 2007), Dustin Keller (Round 1, 2008), Mark Sanchez (Round 1, 2009), Shonn Greene (Round 3, 2009), Matt Slauson (Round 6, 2009), Kyle Wilson (Round 1, 2010), Vladimir Ducasse (Round 2, 2010), Muhammad Wilkerson (Round 1, 2011), Bilal Powell (Round 4, 2011), Jeremy Kerley (Round 5, 2011), Quinton Coples (Round 1, 2012), Stephen Hill (Round 2 2012), Demario Davis (Round 3, 2012), and Damon Harrison (UDFA, 2012)

Worst Pick: Vernon Gholston

Best Pick: Darrelle Revis

“Trader Mike” loved to make moves, and as a result, had 6 or less picks, in 5 out of 7 drafts. He made 41 drafts picks overall, and 5 of those players made the pro-bowl, at least one time. Tannenbaum drafted some all-time favorite Jets: D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold and Darrelle Revis. The Jets made the playoffs 3 out of the 7 years he was with the team, including back to back AFC Championship appearances, in 2009 and 2010.

Mike made a big splash in 2008 when he released fan favorite Chad Pennington (who ended up winning the division with the Dolphins) and traded for Brett Favre. The Jets started out 8-3 before a Favre injury, and subsequently ended the year 9-7. Favre retired, and was released at his request. One has to wonder what the 2009 and 2010 Jets would have looked like with a healthy Brett Favre. Could he have been the missing piece?

Tannenbaum drafted rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez in 2009. Sanchez looked the part showing some flashes of talent and Favre became an afterthought. He enjoyed playoff success, winning a record four road games, but it was short lived. Tannenbaum subsequently made several poor decisions in building a roster.  For example, he replaced Damien Woody with Wayne Hunter following the 2010 season. As a result, Mark Sanchez was eventually exposed as an average quarterback. Regardless, Tannenbaum still deserves recognition for the Super Bowl caliber unit he constructed around his young signal caller, which included the most dominant offensive line in Jets history: D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Alan Faneca, Nick Mangold, Brandon Moore and Damien Woody. According to Pro Football Focus, in 2009 and 2010 the Jets OL ranked 1st in the NFL.

Mike was criticized for several business decisions: drafting Vernon Gholston, Vladimir Ducasse, and Stephen Hill, trading Pete Kendall, and fan favorite Leon Washington, releasing Jerricho Cotchery—and signing Derick Mason in his place—making a trade for Tim Tebow, recklessly extending Mark Sanchez— after missing out on the Peyton Manning sweepstakes—and failing to provide adequate depth. A downward spiral ensued from that point on, and in 2012, after a 6-10 record, he was ultimately sent packing following the last game of the season.

3) Terry Bradway (2001-2005):

HC: Herman Edwards (2001-2005)

Record: 39-41

Playoffs: 2001 Wild Card, 2002 Divisional Game, and 2004 Divisional game.

Noteworthy Acquisitions: Ty Law, Eric Barton, David Barrett, Curtis Conway and Sam Cowart

Noteworthy Drafted players: Santana Moss (Round 1, 2001), LaMont Jordan (Round 2, 2001), Kareem McKenzie (Round 3, 2001), Bryan Thomas (Round 1, 2002), Brandon Moore (UDFA, 2002), Dewayne Robertson (Round 1, 2003), Jonathan Vilma (Round 1, 2004), Jerricho Cotchery (Round 4, 2004), Erik Coleman (Round 5, 2004), Mike Nugent (Round 2, 2005), Justin Miller (Round 2, 2005), Sione Pouha (Round 3, 2005) and Kerry Rhodes (Round 4, 2005)

Best Pick: Brandon Moore (“Round 8”, UDFA)

Worst Pick: Mike Nugent

Bradway enjoyed his most successful season with the Jets in 2004, reaching the divisional playoff game. If it wasn’t for two missed field goals—by Doug Brien—in that matchup his time as GM may have been looked at with much less scrutiny.

Bradway made 36 draft picks; 5 of those players made the pro-bowl (with the jets or another team) at least one time. Bradway started his career with a solid 2001 draft by selecting Santana Moss and Kareem McKenzie. Brandon Moore was another nice find as an undrafted free agent in 2002; however, it’s hard to find another moment in Bradway’s career that stands out in a positive light. Dewayne Robertson turned out to be a bust (as the 4th overall pick), he selected kicker Mike Nugent—in the second round of all places—and traded a first-round pick for Doug Jolley (TE).

Bradway has been given the nickname “Teflon Terry” because his stay in New York far outlasted his skills as an evaluator. Even after losing the GM title, he spent 14 plus years as an executive, in various roles.

I have Bradway third on my list mostly because of his multiple playoff appearances, but one could argue that Parcells’ 2000 draft is predominantly responsible for that.

4) Mike Maccagnan (2015-2019):

Head Coach: Todd Bowles (2015-2018), Adam Gase (5 months in 2019)

Record: 24-40

Playoffs: None

Noteworthy acquisitions: Darrelle Revis, Brandon Marshall, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kelvin Beachum, James Carpenter, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Matt Forte, Josh McCown, Buster Skrine, Morris Claiborne, Henry Anderson, Avery Williamson, Trumaine Johnson, CJ Mosley, Le’Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder

Notable drafted players: Leonard Williams (Round 1, 2015), Darron Lee (Round 1, 2016), Jordan Jenkins (Round 3, 2016), Brandon Shell (Round 5, 2016), Lachlan Edwards (Round 7, 2016), Robby Anderson (UDFA, 2016), Jamal Adams (Round 1, 2017), Marcus Maye (Round 2, 2017), Elijah McGuire (Round 4, 2017), Sam Darnold (Round 1, 2018), Chris Herndon (Round 4, 2018), and Quinnen Williams (Round 1, 2019)

Best Pick: Sam Darnold

Worst pick: Christian Hackenberg

Mike Maccagnan will always have a place in the heart of Jets fans for drafting Sam Darnold. However, Maccagnan had issues drafting talent outside the first round, failed to build a sustainable OL for his young QB, couldn’t find a viable edge rusher, maintained a losing record overall, never made the playoffs, and hasn’t worked well with multiple head coaches.

Brandon Shell and Jordan Jenkins were decent selections, but by and large, average players.  Chris Herndon looks to be a steal in the fourth round and Marcus Maye was a star in the making prior to multiple injuries. However, outside of these selections, Maccagnan had significant problems finding talent beyond round one.  The majority of his selections are either out of the league, on another team, or play an insignificant role for the Jets. Besides the aforementioned players, not one pick has played more than 34 percent of the snaps. His selection of Christian Hackenberg in the second round (2016)—who couldn’t even cut it in the AAF this past season—is one of his most scrutinized picks.

Maccagnan had a difficult time constructing a sustainable offensive line. His inability to find a viable center is one of his more egregious mistakes. Pro Football Focus ranked Maccagnan’s offensive line: 25th last season, 30th in 2017, 21st in 2016 and 26th in 2015 (Maccagnan’s first season).  Despite lackluster protection up front, Maccagnan drafted only three offensive linemen in five drafts.

Maccagnan was supposedly fired because a rift with new head coach, Adam Gase. However, this isn’t the first time he’s had issues with a coach. Multiple reports have suggested that former head coach, Todd Bowles, felt underappreciated and voiceless within the organization. Bowles was placed in a figurative corner and had virtually no input into the construction of a team he was asked to coach.  One of the more publicized examples involved Bowles’ failed pursuit of Alvin Kamara in the draft.

5) John Idzik (2013-2014):  

HC: Rex Ryan (2013-2014)

Record: 12-20 (2 seasons)

Playoffs: None

Noteworthy acquisitions: Michael Vick, Willi Colon, Eric Decker, Leger Douzable, Breno Giacomini, Chris Ivory, Ed Reed, Percy Harvin, Chris Johnson, and Dawan Landry

Noteworthy drafted players: Sheldon Richardson (Round 1, 2013), Geno Smith (Round 2, 2013), Brian Winters (Round 3, 2013), Rontez Miles (2013, UDFA) and Quincy Enunwa (Round 6, 2014)

Best Pick: Sheldon Richardson

Worst Pick: Calvin Pryor

It was a tumultuous reign for Idzik, known mostly for trading Darrelle Revis, a subpar 2014 NFL draft called the “Idzik 12,” and billboards devoted to his firing.

Idzik’s downfall was his inability as a draft evaluator: 10 of his 19 picks are out of the NFL and only 3 of the 9 that remain are starters. Quincy Enunwa (Jets) and Dakota Dozier (Vikings) are the only active players from the “Idzik 12.”

After trading Darrelle Revis, Idzik hoped to fill his void with first round pick-and future draft bust—Dee Millner. Milliner was the consensus number one cornerback in the draft that year. Nobody can fault Idzik for the selection; however, expecting a rookie cornerback to come in and start in a Rex Ryan defense, that’s dependent on that position in particular, was negligent.  

Idzik put a lot of stock into second round draft pick Geno Smith. His career as a Jet was uneventful; he’s mostly known for getting kicked off a flight, and punched in the face by a teammate.

It wasn’t all bad for John Idzik, who made a quality trade—when he sent a 4th round pick to the Saints—for Chris Ivory, signed Eric Decker, drafted Brain Winters, and made a wise decision by refusing to give Muhammad Wilkerson a long-term contract. Decker ended up being fairly prolific and was part of a wide receiver tandem—with Brandon Marshall in 2015—that yielded two 1,000-yard receivers. Brain Winters has had some struggles, but he’s still the starting right guard for the Jets. Wilkerson eventually got his money—from Mike Maccagnan—and soon after figuratively checked out.

Idzik was forced to take over a team that already had a head coach in place.  After only two years, Rex Ryan and Idzik were both fired in 2014, following a 4-12 season. Most of the blame for this bad marriage should fall on ownership, who tried to force a meeting of the minds between unlikely partners.  Idzik and Ryan never saw eye to eye and things inevitably fell apart.

Unfortunately, this failed method of pairing head coaches and general managers remained a pattern within the organization.  The Jets were recently in a similar situation with new head coach Adam Gase. To avoid past mistakes, Chris Johnson acted quickly when it appeared that a rift developed between new head coach (Adam Gase) and the existing general manger (Mike Maccagnan). Luckily for the Jets fanbase, the Johnson’s made every effort to bring in a general manager who’d fit perfectly with their new head coach. Apparently, Joe Douglas and Adam Gase have a past relationship and share foundational beliefs. As of now, it seems the Jets have made the correct decision and are moving in the right direction. Hopefully, in the future, when someone else revisits past Jets general managers, Joe Douglas, will be at the top of the list.