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 and 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 still 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