New York Jets: A Broken Locker Room that Woody Johnson Must Fix
Things are getting ugly with the New York Jets, and getting ugly quickly. It was ugly enough on Monday night, when the Jets fell to the division rival Dolphins, dropping their record to 2-10. But in the days following the game, we have learned quite a bit more.
We have learned that the Jets have a broken locker room. It’s broken pretty severely, and Woody Johnson is going to have to stand up and take action to fix it. It’s time for Woody Johnson to take this football team and bring it back under control, because it is spiraling off course.
Ironically, Woody Johnson is the man who set the ball in motion, bringing us to the problems that the Jets are faced with today. I’ll explain.
Jun 17, 2014; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets general manager John Idzik (left) and coach Rex Ryan during minicamp at Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
First we have the two different methods of putting together a football team. Despite what these guys say about each other, Rex Ryan and John Idzik have not had a meeting of the minds on how to put together the New York Jets.
Heading into a sixth year as a head coach, Rex Ryan needed to win. It’s about the time that a program starts to show the results of five years of building. Having solid draft picks is important, but it is also important to supplement the roster with impact free agents.
We all know how that went.
John Idzik, on the other hand, is in the beginning of his program. At the beginning, you change the way things are done, to set the team up for the future. Idzik had to dig the Jets out of bad contracts and salary cap problems. He did that with gusto, and set the Jets up strongly on the financial end. He also stockpiled draft picks, and made acquisitions for players on the cheap. Early returns are mediocre at best.
So far, Idzik’s only major success in the draft has been Sheldon Richardson, as the jury is still out on many of these players. The player drafted to be the quarterback of the future, Geno Smith, might be off of the roster by the time 2015 rolls around.
Yes, he signed Eric Decker and Michael Vick. But, with all of the financial flexibility, why didn’t John Idzik step up with the cornerback situation? Because he doesn’t need to win now. He is in the beginning of his program, setting up the Jets for the future. Like it or not, this difference in style between the coach and the general manager is a recipe for disaster.
And it got worse this week.
Dec 1, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) reacts after throwing an interception against the Miami Dolphins during the fourth quarter of a game at MetLife Stadium. The Dolphins defeated the Jets 16-13. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
The center of this week’s firestorm is Geno Smith. As we know, he was placed back in the lineup as the Jets starting quarterback. The rumor was the Rex Ryan didn’t want to go that way, but was overruled by John Idzik. Ryan’s response was to bury Geno Smith in the gameplan, only allowing him to throw eight times for almost the entire game, making it 13 attempts by the end of the game. If you believe the talk, that was Ryan saying that Idzik could make him start Geno Smith, but not use him correctly.
Following the game, we heard from an anonymous Jets veteran that the coach wasn’t the only one that didn’t agree with Geno Smith coming back off of the bench. Take a look at what he said to Kristian Dyer in the Metro:
“We’ve packed it in, waived the white flag, whatever you want to call it,” one Jets player told Metro by phone on Tuesday afternoon. “It wasn’t a good sign, not at all. They gave [Geno] how many chances over the past year? He does badly, gets benched and starts the next week.
Mike has one bad game in three starts and he’s put down for the rest of the year. Doesn’t make sense. You’ve got guys busting their [butts] this year, fighting for jobs, and you want to win. You want to win but it seems like they’ve got something about the future and only the future now. With Michael, you know what you’re getting, he’s done it all.
Been in every situation. If he starts this season, I’m not saying we’re perfect but we win a few more games. Maybe we’re in the playoff mix, I dunno. But you bench him, well, the older guys I talk to weren’t that happy. We’re not anti-Geno, the kid does it right and tries, but we want to win. He needs to improve, ya know?
We could still get some wins this year. Look at [Monday] night. We didn’t move the ball at all in the second half. At all. If we actually throw it, maybe we win this thing. At the very least, we change field position a bit. But they’ve given up on this season and us.”
Oct 26, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan speaks with field judge Bob Waggoner (25) during the second quarter against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. Buffalo Bills defeated New York Jets 43-23. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
This same player went on to clarify these remarks.
“I wasn’t trying to say that we’ve quit, that any of the players quit. I don’t think any of us have quit in this [locker] room,” the player told Metro. “But it seems like those above us, they’ve quit on this season. You can’t do that. Players need to make a living, get stuff on tape, play for that next year. But it seems like that isn’t important, that winning this year isn’t a big deal to them anymore. Like they’re already looking at 2015 and beyond. Maybe they felt that way earlier this year and stuff but I don’t know.”
These quotes being out there are quite a problem, because as they say, where there is smoke there is fire. If one players feels that the Jets brass has quit on the 2014 season, there are likely many players that feel the same way. This is a bad situation, and that puts it lightly.
Woody Johnson must fix it.
Oct 12, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets owner Woody Johnson watches warmups before the game against the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
First of all, Woody Johnson is partially responsible for these problems in the first place. He is the own that arranged the marriage between Rex Ryan and John Idzik. Forced matchups between a general manager and a head coach don’t typically end well. The reason is what we discussed earlier. When the general manager doesn’t pick his coach, they likely are going to have very different opinions on what needs to get done for the team. That is exactly the problem that has gone on with the Jets. They need the GM and the coach to be on exactly the same page when they build a football team.
Secondly, if this is the sentiment held by Jets players, nobody is going to want to play here if management quits on them. The word is going to get out, as all of the players are in touch with each other now. If players are coming in to meet with the Jets, current players will weigh in to sway their decisions. Why would any big time free agents wan to play in a broken locker room? It wouldn’t make sense.
Woody Johnson has a hot mess on his hands. He had better step up. Does that mean firing John Idzik and Rex Ryan? Time will tell, but he had better get this right.