Dec 7, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New York Jets general manager John Idzik watches practice before the game with the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings win 30-24. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
The John Idzik era is over. The fans have gotten what they wanted, as Idzik was relieved of his duties on Monday morning. The Jets are going to start a new era, with Woody Johnson taking the bull by the horns and making the changes needed.
It’s amazing that only a year ago, we were calling John Idzik a “ninja” in some circles. Idzik was the guy setting the Jets on the right track.
So what exactly happened? Let’s take a look.
Sep 12, 2013; Foxboro, MA, USA; New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) on the sidelines during the game agains the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports
As much as we dislike John Idzik now, let’s not forget all of the good that he did do for us. He walked into a Jets franchise that was in deep with salary cap problems. Deep. They were over the cap, and stuck with bad contracts thanks to Mike Tannenbaum.
Within one year, thanks to getting out from under contracts like the one given to Mark Sanchez, Idzik brought the Jets from a deficit to a surplus. The Jets last season had one of the greatest salary cap surpluses in the entire league, and we have John Idzik to thank for that.
Dec 21, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Chris Ivory (33) runs against the New England Patriots during the game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Not all of John Idzik’s budget friendly acquisitions were bad. We were all practically foaming at the mouth when Idzik acquired Chris Ivory, and did so for a fourth round draft pick. Jets fans had been begging for this guy for months, Idzik got it done, and without giving up the farm.
Eric Decker was acquired for a contract that didn’t break the bank either. John Idzik brought in talent while being able to watch the Jets back account.
Not all of his moves were bad, folks.
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
John Idzik came in with the idea of “sustainable success”. Idzik stated that the draft was going to be his life line to building sustainable success. We have talked about this often, as it was a good plan. He saw it work in Seattle, though he wasn’t really involved in the selection process.
Idzik was executing that. He had 12 picks in the last draft. Tannenbaum had 14 over his last two drafts. The priority was coming clear. We had some successes in the draft, most obvious being Sheldon Richardson. We really don’t know how many of the other picks are going to turn out, it’s too soon. We don’t know what Dexter McDougle is, and we have seen mixed performances from Dee Milliner and even Geno Smith.
John Idzik’s draft classes may still return happy returns. The process was taking shape.
So what went wrong?
Jun 17, 2014; Florham Parl, NJ, USA; New York Jets cornerback Dexter McDougle (43) during minicamp at Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
John Idzik’s biggest problem was being too rigid. To put it simply, he was stubborn.
Football does not take place on paper, nor does roster building take place in the general manager’s head. John Idzik did not understand that, and it ultimately led to his downfall. The cornerback position was the best example.
Of course he didn’t plan for Dexter McDougle to be lost before the year even started. He also didn’t plan for Dee Milliner, who was improving in 2013, to be injured and lost for the year. But, Idzik never adapted, and that is where he went wrong.
He was too firm in his plan. Idzik needed to realize that the Jets needed to replace these players to have any chance to win in 2014. The Jets defense, in order to run properly, needed cornerbacks to lock down opposing wide receivers. Without it, Rex Ryan’s system falls apart.
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John Idzik’s job was to recognize that, and do something about making that work. Letting all of those cornerbacks go elsewhere showed that John Idzik was interested in his plan, and not in changing course to help the team win now.
That is what caught the ire of Jets fans, and ultimately caught the ire of owner Woody Johnson.
John Idzik could have saved himself with just one or two moves. He was just too stubborn to make it.