Is the GM Search Getting Away from Woody Johnson Already?


Jan 8, 2013; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets owner Woody Johnson reviews the 2012 season and address changes for 2013 at the New York Jets Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

The search for Mike Tannenbaum’s replacement is just a little over a week old. The process is far over it, I am not too naive to realize that. However, being a Jets fan for almost 30 years now, you develop a certain sense of paranoia when things get tough. I don’t want to admit that I am paranoid as this early portion of the search, but…..OK I am very paranoid. The signs are there that this thing may be getting away from Woody and the Jets already.

Let’s take a look at the most recent timeline. Over the weekend, the report surfaced from our friends at the Jets Blog that the Jets were close to signing a deal with Tom Gamble.  Basically, the story said that the Jets had some numbers out there in a deal, but still had to go through the motions of other interviews to comply with the “Rooney Rule”. To their credit, they are standing by the story, but we do know that Gamble has gone on to take other interviews, after cancelling some to concentrate on the Jets. The rumor is out there that Gamble didn’t interview well, and has some trouble with his grasp on the salary cap. Whether or not that is true, we will obviously never know, but the fact is that the process has needed to go forward.

Fast forward into this week. Reports surface that Dave Caldwell, director of Player Personnel for the Atlanta Falcons, is going to be deciding between taking the job with the Jets, or the Jacksonville Jaguars. Yesterday we hear that Caldwell is being brought to NY on Woody Johnson’s private plane. I am sure I was not the only one thinking that there was no way, after getting the royal treatment, that Caldwell would choose the Jacksonville Jaguars over the New York Jets. How could be pass up an opportunity like this, right? Well, that is exactly what happened, as Dave Caldwell accepted the general manager position with the Jaguars.

Needless to say, Jets Nation was starting to get a little bit restless at this point. Why are we hearing about these top level candidates, only to then hear reasons why they have moved on? Turn the page..

Jan 8, 2013; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets owner Woody Johnson reviews the 2012 season and address changes for 2013 at the New York Jets Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

Could Rex Ryan be the reason, behind the scenes, that candidates are deciding to go elsewhere? During yesterday’s press conference, Woody Johnson confirmed that keeping the coach is a requirement of the candidates:

That was. I believe in Rex. In head coaches, I’m part of that search and (believe) the relationship with the head coach and the owner is critical. The relationship with the head coach and the GM is also critical and that’s why Rex is part of this and he’ll get to know the general manager.

He went on to say that he has not heard any resistance to this during the interview process, but who knows if that is how the candidates truly feel? I mean, you could understand their point. If they are getting the chance to be in the position of power within the organization, as far as putting together a roster, they would want their own coach to implement their vision. Why would they want to be forced to keep the previous head coach? From their position, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. This is the argument that has started to surface amongst the Jets fans, and it is a valid one. Woody’s loyalty to Rex is admirable, but may cost him a legitimate outside candidate.

Then, towards the end of the day yesterday, we hear more rumors, and not ones that any Jets fan wanted to hear. The rumor is that assistant general manager Scott Cohen is gaining some steam as the potential replacement. Now THAT will set the Jets fans ablaze, and really show that the search got out of hand. It will show that Woody didn’t mean a lot of what he said during his press conference yesterday.

What do I mean? Well, Woody wouldn’t talk a lot about specifics when asked what he is looking for in a replacement, but here is what he did have to say on the subject:

We’re looking at somebody that can guide us to the next level of success and really change the dynamic in a way that yields more consistent success on the field. In terms of specific characteristics, I can’t get into that yet. All I can say is that the people we’re talking to, the candidates we’re talking to, are exceptionally good and each one of them bring something different, as well as internal candidates. So I’m very encouraged by what I’m seeing so far.

“…change the dynamic”. Note those words carefully. Woody says they want someone to change the dynamic. How the heck can you do that if you hire a guy that is already here??? What??! It’s not even logical. If you are going to sell your fans on change, and then bring in more of the same, you are kicking your fans in the teeth, and they won’t stand for it.

The last few days may all have just been posturing between the Jets and Tom Gamble, and he is their guy after all. If not, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Hughes better have a plan B. This situation has the signs of getting away from the Jets, and if they don’t have a plan B, it will be a fail to end all fails.