Feb 21, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New York Jets general manager John Idzik speaks at a press conference during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The tough road ahead for John Idzik and his staff is no secret. 2013 is not going to be easy, thanks to how Mike Tannenbaum left us with the salary cap. We don’t have a lot of room under the cap, and we have starting positions that need to be filled. To put it simply, that means we shouldn’t expect the Jets to make a big splash in 2013.
Instead, the Jets will have to settle for mid-level free agents, that give much more bang for your buck. Value, is what the Jets are going to have to search for with limited resources. Salaries are going to come off of the books for 2014, so the Jets will be big players in a year, but not yet. So, that brings us to the question, of the current free agents, who should the Jets retain? Who should they make one big push to retain off of last season?
Remember the post-season press conference? Head coach Rex Ryan talked about approaching the days as if it was his first day as head coach, from four years earlier. A lot of people, including our “favorite” afternoon radio host in NY, took that comment as a chance to take more shots at the Jets. “How can you forget the past four years?”, they said. “What a stupid comment!” However, when you look at the free agency situation from this perspective, you will see that this year is EXACTLY like it was four years ago.
Join me, I will explain what I am talking about.
Take it back four years ago, to Rex Ryan’s first off-season as head coach of the Jets. He was coming off of an AFC Championship game appearance as defensive coordinator of the Ravens. Coming over to NY, he knew it was time to change the culture around the Jets. So, what did he do? He was at Bart Scott’s front door, one minute after the free agency period opened. He knew that to change the culture of the team, he needed to bring in a guy that personified that culture, so in comes Bart Scott.
Well, the Bart Scott era is over. His play has deteriorated over the last four seasons, to a point where he is just far too slow to be on the field for the Jets any longer. The same thing happened to Calvin Pace. He doesn’t belong out there anymore. And besides, we have already discussed, at length, that the Jets don’t have that kind of splash in them this year anway. So, what are they to do?
Fast forward to the present, and we have the same situation. But, instead of changing the culture, the Jets need to MAINTAIN that culture. There is a now uniquely-Rex culture around this defense, that allows it to play well, even when major injuries befall the unit. Why? Because the system keeps everyone in line and performing their role to the highest ability.
Looking at the current free agent crop, the answer becomes perfectly clear. Like four years ago, when the Jets had to sign Bart Scott to change the culture of the Jets. There is one man that the Jets have to do everything they can to BRING BACK, to maintain the culture they have already created.
Who, you ask? Look below.
Dec 17, 2012; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Jets defensive back LaRon Landry (30) breaks up a pass intended for Tennessee Titans wide receiver Damian Williams (17) during the second half at LP Field. Titans won 14-10. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Re-sign LaRon “Dirty Thirty” Landry. That is what you have to do.
First of all, LaRon proved he was in good health in 2012. Despite coming to NY with achilles problems, he played in every game in 2012, set a career high in tackles with 100, tied his career high in INT’s with 2, and defended 8 passes, tied for second best in his career. He was a beast.
My old friend Adam Schein included LaRon in his list of Riskiest Free Agents, citing his aggressive play as not being conducive to staying healthy. In my opinion, you can’t judge players that way. ANY player can get hurt at ANY time, just ask Darrelle. His aggressive play will always be aggressive, he is not going to back off. He proved his health in 2012, there is no good reason to doubt him. If we doubted every player that had injury problems in previous years, there wouldn’t be many players left to choose from.
And besides anything else, do we really want LaRon doing this for some other team:
I think not. Bring him back, and do it now.