I guess disastrous 4-12 seasons are just as difficult to survive as they appear.
If you were looking for wholesale changes regarding the New York Jets, then the NFL’s Black Monday didn’t disappoint. At the merciful end to a tumultuous and disappointing 2014 season, owner Woody Johnson decided to swiftly clean house at the two most important positions in the organization.
“It was obvious we had to make a change, obvious to me anyway,” the owner said at his season ending press conference on Monday. No Mr. Johnson, it was obvious to all of us. Everyone in Jet nation just hoped you saw it that way too.
It was a foregone conclusion that embattled coach Rex Ryan needed to go after a fourth straight season of missing the playoffs. The big question was whether or not John Idzik generally managed the team egregiously enough to lose his job as well. Johnson wasted no time letting both go and so, the search for the next Jets regime has begun.
What do these changes tell us about the Jets, their owner and the situation moving forward? This time around, the search will be different.
With two veteran consultants at his side Woody Johnson is thinking football, not fiscal. It certainly won’t be an executive firm like Korn/Ferry choosing who leads gang green from a managerial standpoint. All can thank Idzik for one thing: stabilizing the Jets salary cap. Idzik succeeded in fixing some of New York’s financial problems while epically failing to put a complete team together. Anyone surprised by this? No? Either way, with his money in order Johnson is turning his attention to the on-field product.
The owner has hired Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf to assist in filling the GM and coaching vacancies. Both men are well known and respected in the football world, having extensive experience in the front office. Casserly served as GM of the Redskins for a decade while Wolf served the same amount in Green Bay. Wolf, a former Jets personnel director, has 50 years of football experience under his belt and assisted the San Diego Chargers in the same process just two seasons ago.
The GM hire undoubtedly has to come first; hiring a coach before a general manager would be a sever breach in protocol and another recipe for disaster. Be on the lookout for a candidate with an extensive football background; a director of scouting, player personnel or even a one-time NFL general manager.
Putting the tag team of Casserly and Wolf together is evidence of Woody Johnson’s commitment to hiring a football talent evaluator, something his past two general managers haven’t been. The Jets have a myriad of holes beginning with quarterback, defensive back and offensive line. A personnel-oriented GM with experience making football decisions is exactly the type of candidate gang green needs steering the ship if they are to execute a successful turnaround.
After all, what good is the salary cap space and the draft picks if the man making the calls is known as a financial specialist? The Jets necessities no longer require a salary capologist, they need a football mind. One that can find the ever-elusive franchise quarterback, which feels like some kind of unicorn to Jet fans at this point.
Following the mistake of intertwining Idzik and Ryan’s agendas, Woody Johnson is making a self-deprecating and frankly, intelligent move as he attempts to establish a positive legacy as an NFL owner. He’s admitting he doesn’t have all the answers but hiring some advisors who he thinks can help him find some.
Ultimately, Woody fancies himself a fan. He has heard the cries of his fellow Jet fans and as the only one with the power to do anything about it, he cleaned house and is starting over. The reboot button has been hit on the New York Jets and the primary focus is on football.