New GM John Idzik Focused on Reality, Not Perception
Florham Park, NJ- ”Well, I guess everyone’s going to have their opinions, you know, and I don’t deal much in perception, to be honest, I deal with reality. The reality here is I think this is one of the most fabulous infrastructures anyone could ask for. For one we have some of the most fervent, passionate fans in the National Football League. I’ve experienced what an advantage that could be in Seattle and in Tampa and Arizona, I feel that here. We have a state of the art stadium to play in, we have a state of the art facility, the people in this building are tremendous. So that’s reality to me, the more I got to know about the people here, the fans here, the environment here, the facilities, I think the football infrastructure is second to none. So, in my personal opinion it’s one of the best, one of the best opportunities that you could have.” – John Idzik new General Manager of the New York Jets.
That quote was in response to one of many different “perceptions” questions Idzik would be asked about, this one was about the perception that the Jets couldn’t give the GM job away, no one wanted it. Obviously that turned out to be one of many “misperceptions” Idzik would go on to talk about. If you just read the headlines and jokes on Twitter you might buy into many of these perceptions, one being that the Jets are a dysfunctional organization that needed to hire someone to clean up their own mess, well John Idzik does not buy into this particular perception at all.
“No I don’t think I ever got that perception, again there seems to be a lot of misperceptions, but once you get to I had a group breakfast with the entire building, the entire building showed up to shake my hand. That’s pretty impressive that people go out of their way to introduce themselves to me, make me feel at home.” Idzik said, “So when I sense that, I don’t look at it as repair, I look at it as fostering what we have here, we have a good group of people here, they’re good at what they do and it’s up to me and everybody here to join together. So that’s the sense I get, I don’t sense dysfunction or anything like that.”
Idzik said throughout the interview process, which included the Jets officially interviewing nine other candidates, “Every step of the way I gravitated more towards the New York Jets. I felt like a member of the New York Jets and I’m very appreciative of that.” Towards the end of Idzik’s opening statement, where he talked about his upbringing in a football family, his wife and his kids and the friends and family he has gathered along his journey throughout the NFL Idzik explained that, “I think you get a sense from me that family, cohesion, teamwork, they are at my core. They are at the core of the New York Jets.”
Idzik made a strong first impression throughout the press conference and it didn’t take long to get a sense of what he’s about.
“To me all those experiences have solidified the power of we. The power of we over me. And that’s something that’s going to be very strong here in New York.” Idzik said, “So as it goes there, it goes here in New York too. It’ll be based on a collaborative effort, it will be inclusive, it will be well thought out, well researched. It will be the power of we.
“Well when I’m making the final personnel decisions, when I say a collaborative effort, that’s genuine. I think my role as a general manager is to provide some direction and develop consensus in the building so when we make decisions they’re Jet decisions. Now I may be the person who hands in the card but what’s on that card is a Jet decision.”
Once the decision to hire Idzik was made, many were critical of the decision claiming Idzik’s area of expertise was strictly on the business side and not so much on the football side. Throughout today’s presser Idzik handled many variations of questions about the perception of him, basically asking him what makes him qualified for this job?
The first time he was asked about his background he said, “As far as my background, I’ve been around NFL players since I was yay high, since I was six-years-old, in various capacities, and as I started my professional career I’ve had a myriad of different perspectives so I think that’s something I can lend to the New York Jets. Various perspectives and that’s inclusive of personnel, that’s inclusive of management, administration, operations, it’s inclusive of contract and cap, so I think that will be a help to the New York Jets.”
“I think your credibility really comes from within. I think a lot of people, there’s perceptions or should I say misperceptions out there, and you are who you are. The people in the building are going to feel who you are. It’s more that than where your roots are from family-wise, that said, I mean, yes I had a tremendous advantage.” Idzik said when asked if his credibility comes from growing up around football. “As I said, before grade school I was going to NFL training camps and I made be a little bit biased here but my dad was a heck of a coach. So to be able to sit in camp with him, sit along side of him and coach his group, to grow up around that it’s a tremendous advantage, but I think ultimately it’s how you handle yourself in your job (and) how you relate to the people in your building, that’s your credibility.”
As for Idzik’s immediate plans he said, “We’re going to continually develop, maintain and enhance our roster here, that’s grounded in competition, a constant influx of competition. When you’re in football you relish competition, it makes everybody better and by that I mean we’ll explore every measure for bringing in talent and continue to compete. The draft will be very important to us, that’ll be a lifeline for us, year-in and year-out. When we use free agency again it’ll be very thoughtful, we’ll do our research and be very judicious in free agency. We’ll use trades, we’ll use waiver claims, we’ll work our practice roster, we’ll have numerous tryouts throughout the year and search for guys that play like a Jet. So that’ll be a constant hum in the background of what we do.
“The most immediate business items that we have to address is a thorough and comprehensive review of our current roster. I come in from the outside as an opponent, Rex, you’ve lived with these players. Our pro and college departments have lived with these players. They know the players not only on game day, but they know how they eat, they sleep, they practice, they prepare, they know their families, I want to get to know them in-depth. We’re going to do a thorough review of our roster and then from there we will be able to develop short-term plans going into free agency, we’ll develop our plans as far as the salary cap is concerned going into the 2013 year and of course there will be countless hours spent in preparation for the 2013 draft.”
Idzik said he plans on building through free agency and possible trades, but he clearly wants to make the draft the strong foundation to build this team around.
“We’re going to place an emphasis on the draft, round one through seven and in college free agency. So we will be well-versed in who we think is going to help our squad through the draft. Then on individual basis, once we evaluate our roster, baseline will always be our current roster, anything we do will be compared to what we have in the building. So that will always be the baseline, but we will target a course based on those evaluations. Some of it will be draft oriented, some of it will be free agent oriented and some of it could be trade oriented.
“To us, every draft choice that we turn in, is going to be precious to us.”
Today was Idzik’s first time at the Jets practice facilities in Florham Park, having spent the past few days in Mobile Alabama for Senior Bowl practice and he said he had a chance to meet with everyone in the scouting/player personnel department and does not intend to make any immediate changes. Idzik says he has been “very impressed with my initial impressions,” of everyone throughout those departments and including Ryan saying, “my initial impressions were, ‘we got a real strong group here’ and I look forward to working with them for the days and weeks and nights to come.
“I look at Rex Ryan as a very accomplished coach. He’s very energetic, he’s optimistic, he’s engaging, as we all know, and he engages our players and he gets them to play hard, I can speak to that from the opponents side. So I look forward to our time together, I really do. I’m excited about it, so that to me, was a plus.”
Ryan seems to be equal impressed with his new boss. Ryan joined the media in the board room to discuss the new GM and direction of this team and was beaming with excitement when talking about Idzik.
“Outstanding.” Ryan said about his initial impressions of Idzik. “I think having three days in Mobile with John, it was great, and you realize how similar our backgrounds are. Even with his dad being a former Jets, my dad being a former Jet, as John mentioned being six-years-old and going to the practices and all those types of things. Being around football his whole life, very similar to mine, but really it’s great.”
Idzik also said he never saw the Jets cap situation as a “hindrance,” and said every year team’s face different obstacles with dealing with the cap and in the coming days they will sit down and, “research, pour through, we’ll evaluate just like we evaluate our roster and you make the moves that we think are best for the Jets and I’m fully confident that will be able to do that and we’ll have a fruitful offseason.”
Among those decisions will be what to do at quarterback as well as addressing the rumors of a possible trade involving Darrelle Revis.
“I can’t comment really, I’m literally hours into the building, Rex just had to show me my office. So, I don’t want to go down to deep, that we’re going to save for our evaluation process for the days and weeks to come, but in looking at Mark, even evaluating him as a draft prospect, he’s an athletic guy, he was accomplished at USC, he’s done some nice things here, but I think we just need to take our time and evaluate Mark with everybody else on the roster and see how we can move forward and improve.”
“I think it’s way premature to say anything specific, again I haven’t even had a chance to sit down and really vet through our roster with Rex, with our personnel staff, so I think it would be presumptuous to say anything on that.” Idzik said when asked about the Darrelle Revis trade rumors, “Well not that one specifically, but I’d say very important. One of our first steps is to go through our roster in detail, that includes Darrelle, that includes everybody on the roster and then develop a comprehensive plan off of that, but it’s still too premature to say.”
One question most fans and media can agree on is whether or not the Jets think they can successfully reload and turn into a playoff team immediately or will they take a more of a rebuilding approach?
“Every year is a challenge and you kind of wipe the slate clean and then you see what you have as a base going in and you build off of that and you try to improve daily.” Idzik said when asked if making the playoffs next year is an achievable goal based on the current roster. “So in that vein I don’t think it’ll be any different from when the years go by and we are a perennial playoff team, we’ll look at it the same way, how can we improve? So it’s a challenge yes (to return to playoff form), but it’s a challenge that we’re all up to.
“I don’t know that you can put a timetable, like I said every year is different, so I don’t know that you can put a timetable (but) I can assure you this, Rex, myself, everyone in the building, every single day we’re going to look to improve, we’re going to see improvement and we’ll work as hard as we can do to that, but I don’t know that you can put a timetable on it. We’re going to have a competitive team, it’s going to be the center of everything we do and that’s competition and that’s going to make us better.”
Idzik said he has to look at this as a new beginning and fresh start for everyone. “Yeah I look at this year as a burst of energy. It certainly is for me, I’m excited about it and from what I’ve heard Rex is too so I’m very enthused about it.” When asked if there will be any sort of playoff mandate for Ryan to stay with the Jets Idzik said, “No I think what you do is you push the envelop as far as competition and you make sure you’re doing the best you can to improve everyday and the byproduct of that is sustainable success. The byproduct of that is winning football games and going to the postseason and eventually bring championships back to New York.”
The final question of the presser was once again about perception, again the perception that Idzik’s strength is strictly in cap management. Idzik came across as a confident man, showed he could handle the New York media throughout the entire presser, but his final answer is about as close as we’ll ever see to a real live version of someone ending a presser saying, ‘ask about me’ and literally drop the mic.
“Okay, well, I know this is probably one of the most resourceful groups of journalists in the world, so if you want to answer perceptions, I would ask you just to back to the numerous people that I’ve worked along side in my NFL career and they can own up to that, but as far as evaluations, football is at the root of who I am. I’ve been a football guy so to speak, I don’t know exactly what that means, but since I was a six-year-old and since I got into the league I got into the league purely as a scout.” Izdik said, “So that’s always been in the background of what I do and again if there’s any perceptions or any questions I would just ask you to, there’s plenty of resources out there to ask the people that I’ve worked with”