Dec 29, 2014; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets chairman and chief executive officerWood
y Johnson addresses the media regarding the dismissal of general manager John Idzik (not pictured) and head coach Rex Ryan (not pictured) at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim O
1) Hope springs eternal – The Jets made it to the end of a dismal 4-12 season, ending with a nice performance that highlights what this team could be going forward. Geno Smith played an excellent game, the offense started clicking even without Percy Harvin and the front seven hit Ryan Tannehill 11 times, sacking him seven. On Monday the Jets fired both General Manager John Idzik and Head Coach Rex Ryan. Whether or not you agree with the decisions, this is the point where hope and optimism reigns supreme. Just about every candidate will be a “good fit” and their positive qualities will be emphasized. The Jets have a decent foundation, a top 10 pick and about $50 million in cap room ($40 million they must spend to get to the spending floor) so they should be improved next year.
2) Woody Johnson seems to get it – Johnson let go of Ryan and Idzik because, in his word, they are in the “win business” and they just weren’t winning enough. He believes the Bill Parcells adage “you are what your record says you are” and that is why he felt he had to act. Woody knew enough not to be swayed by Ryan’s bravado and belief that the team was better than its record. I thought that John Idzik should be given a chance to choose his own head coach and at least get one more year to complete his plan, but, I understand the firing based on Idzik’s failure to address the secondary in free agency and his lack of communication with the coaching staff and scouting department.
I felt Johnson made it clear that he wants his next coach and general manager to be on the same page, to work together on decisions and to get personnel that fit the coach’s scheme. Woody wants his next coach to motivate like Rex but he also wants that coach to be more of a manager who knows what is going on in all departments and facets of the game. He also mentioned that he wanted the head coach to hold the other coaches accountable which is another weakness of Rex Ryan.
I like that instead of giving more weight to the headhunting group over football people like last time that he will make the decision based on the recommendations of Ron Wolf and Charlie Casserly, both former GMs. I also like that a short list had already been compiled and by 11AM all potential candidates from that list have been called. As of this writing Seattle DC Dan Quinn is a head coach candidate the Jets have gotten permission to interview and Minnesota Assistant General Manager George Ptton is a GM candidate the Jets plan to interview. Those are the two confirmed names that have gotten out so far. The interviews will begin Tuesday and you could feel that the search will be very focused and move quickly which are both good signs.
Dec 28, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (left) talks with New York Jets tight endJace Amaro
(right) during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
3) Geno Smith’s career game – Geno Smith finished the season 20/25 for 358 yards with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. Other than a terrible fumble, where he lost the ball while trying to stiff arm a defender, and a couple of times he should have audible out of plays that were obviously not going to work, Smith played exceptionally. They way that he dropped the ball in on long passes to Decker (41, 50, 76 yards) and Owusu (36 yards) as well as the frozen rope he threw on a skinny post to Kerley for 33 yards were very encouraging and showed a game accuracy that we have not seen very often from Smith and a glimmer of hope that he might not be a complete bust. Smith should compete (really, actually compete) with a veteran that actually wants to start and has the talent to do so is a must for 2015.
Dec 28, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Chris Owusu (14) scores a touchdown as Miami Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes (21) can
4) Jets bright spots this week and foundation going forward – For Week 17 other than Geno Smith, Chris Owusu had a nice catch on a 36 yard deep route, a 23 yard end around for a touchdown and an 87 yard kickoff return to start the second half. Eric Decker had 10 catches for 221 yards and a touchdown. David Harris had 2.5 sacks, Quinton Coples had two sacks, Sheldon Richardson had a sack and Muhammad Wilkerson had .5 sacks and four quarterback hits.
The Jets don’t have a terrible foundation. On offense, Chris Ivory is an above average running back, Eric Decker and Percy Harvin are above average wide receivers, Jace Amaro has shown enough potential to be an above average receiving tight end and Jeremy Kerley is an above average slot receiver. This isn’t bad skill position talent and is definitely good enough to move the ball with even average quarterback play. If you put good talent around D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold they still have a couple of good years left.
Dec 28, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson (91) greets Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) after the play was called dead during the first half at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
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On defense, Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson are elite players. Together with Damon Harrison they form the best defensive line in football. If the Jets switch to a 4-3 defense, which they are better equipped to play, they can have a front featuring Quinton Coples, Wilkerson, Harrison and Richardson which would be a nightmare for opposing offensive lines. Moving Demario Davis to middle linebacker and taking away his tight end coverage responsibility would make him a younger, faster David Harris. Calvin Pryor has a lot of work to do but the potential is there as an in the box safety.
Dec 28, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan prior to the game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
1) Be careful what you wish for when you want change – The funny thing about change is, despite popular belief, is it is not always for the better. Sometimes when you make a change in the organization it is not for the better. When you fire the outgoing coach you only see their warts and have taken for granted their strengths. When you hire the new coach all you see are their positive points because their warts haven’t been revealed yet. Will the next coach be better than Rex Ryan? That definitely remains to be seen. An even scarier thought would be, will the new GM be better than John Idzik? Also not a guarantee.
2) Many holes to fill – The Jets have their fair share of holes to fill. They don’t have a franchise quarterback and while it is too soon to give up on turnover-prone Geno Smith, the Jets should be looking to upgrade the position. Legitimate competition at quarterback between Geno Smith, a proven veteran, and a mid-round draft pick should be the minimum that is done. Despite Dee Milliner and Dexter McDougle returning from injury and the emergence of Marcus Williams from obscurity, the Jets need multiple signings in the secondary to get it to acceptability.
Dec 28, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins tight end Charles Clay (42) runs for a touchdown as New York Jets free safety Calvin Pryor (25) defends in the second quarter at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
They need a true free safety to pair with Calvin Pryor which would let Pryor play his true strong safety position. The Jets need a couple of linebackers to replace Calvin Pace and David Harris. They need speed and, most importantly, coverage ability. They must be able to cover tight ends and backs out of the backfield. The Jets could use an upgrade at right tackle and both guard positions as they need Dakota Dozier, Oday Aboushi and/or Brian Winters to step up at one guard position while a free agent mans the other one. That’s a decent amount of holes but not as many as one would think from a 4-12 team.
3) Nick Folk regresses to his career averages after his career year in 2013 – Folk was 32/39 with only three kicks made from over 50 yards in 2014. He went from automatic to slightly above average. Folk had multiple kicks blocked, including a potential Week 16 game-winner against New England. Kickers usually aren’t consistent from year to year which is why I thought letting Folk play this year out on the Franchise Tag was a better option than the long-term deal he got.
1) The thought of Terry Bradway and the scouting department making it to another regime – Scouting departments aren’t cleaned out until after the draft so whomever the Jets bring in as GM will not let the staff go until after the 2015 NFL Draft but if Teflon Terry and his cohorts survive another purge it will be a sad day. When you decide to clean house you should really clean house totally and that includes the guy who thought Mike Nugent was a legitimate 2nd round pick.