Gary Myers' 5 steps to fix the Jets
Woody Johnson spent $635 million for the Jets in 2000 and, according to Forbes, they are now worth $1.284 billion. That means he has doubled his money. Good for him. But the Jets still are ringless for more than 40 years and their meltdown against the Patriots has brought back memories of the Kotite Years. The Jets need a new game plan to get this mess resolved going into 2013.
So, it I were Woody Johnson I would implement this five-point plan:
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1. Not Fire Rex Ryan
Johnson can take the easy way out and fire Ryan and start over with his fifth coach since he bought the Jets, but blowing up the franchiseís infrastructure by getting rid of Ryan would be a panic move.
What the Jets need in the head coachís office right now is continuity, not another startup project.
Itís been an ugly 12 months for Ryan, thatís for sure, with the Jets losing their last three games in 2011 to finish 8-8 and not make the playoffs, and going 4-7 this year, meaning they have won only four of their last 14 games. The only positive for the Jets: their last five games are against the Cardinals, Jaguars, Titans, Chargers and Bills, who are a combined 17-33. As bad as those teams are, all but the Jaguars have better records than the Jets.
This is Ryanís first disaster season in his four years with the Jets. If he had not made the AFC Championship Game his first two years and had the Jets in contention last year, then Johnson would be justified firing Ryan after what looks like an irrelevant December with lots of empty seats coming up. In fact, he would have been justified getting rid of him after the 49-19 beatdown put on them by the Patriots on Thanksgiving Night in front of a national television audience with the season on the line. Johnson had to be humiliated.
The Giants came close to firing Tom Coughlin after his third season in 2006, and he only kept his job when he promised to treat players with compassion and not as nameless and faceless numbers. He was also forced to outline a plan how he was going to get Eli Manning straightened out. The decision by the Maras and Tisches to keep Coughlin worked out well. He has won two Super Bowls in the last five seasons. Back in the Cowboysí early years when fans were demanding Tom Landry be fired, owner Clint Murchison gave him a 10-year contract extension.
Of course, Iím not suggesting Johnson give Ryan an extension. He did that after his first season in 2009. He just needs to give him the 2013 season before making a decision to fire or extend him. Coaches rarely go into the last year of their contracts. Ryanís contract runs through 2014 and he makes about $3 million a year. Thereís no way Johnson is going to write Ryan checks for $6 million for not coaching his team when the Jets restructured guard Matt Slausonís contract in the summer just to save $258,000.
Ryanís locker room has not revolted against him as Coughlinís did in 2006. The players love playing for him. The problem is the quality of the personnel has deteriorated since Ryan arrived and he certainly shares in the blame. But he deserves the chance to come back next year.
2. Hire A Personnel Expert With Final Say
Johnson is comfortable with GM Mike Tannenbaum running the football operations. Tannenbaum is a smart guy: He went to law school and has a complete understanding of the salary cap. His strength is negotiating contracts and being extremely organized. He has surrounded himself with a personnel staff that he trusts, but too many decisions have not worked out. The Jets need to hire a personnel whiz who can do for Tannenbaum what Jerry Reese did for Ernie Accorsi with the Giants before Reese was promoted to GM. Tannenbaum needs to relinquish final say on personnel ó thatís often semantics because most decisions are made by consensus ó while retaining his other responsibilities. But something must change: The Jets selected Stephen Hill in the second round this year and he canít catch. Thatís not a good thing for a wide receiver.
3. Find Real Competition For Mark Sanchez
Once the coaches saw Tim Tebow in practice, and heís well known as being an awful practice player, Sanchezís job was never in jeopardy. The Jets need to create an open competition in training camp next summer by signing a veteran free agent, making a trade or drafting a quarterback. The only starting quality QB who will be a free agent is Joe Flacco and the Ravens will surely franchise him if they canít work out a deal. Phillyís Michael Vick is somebody to at least think about a bit. Heís due to make $16 million in 2013 and itís hard to imagine Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie paying that kind of money. And with Andy Reid surely getting fired, Lurie may elect to start over at quarterback, too. Even when heís healthy, Vick has not played well this season. The Jets may be able to get him at severely reduced dollars, but he may not be worth creating another distraction at quarterback.
Sanchez is virtually guaranteed to be with the Jets in 2013. When they extended his contract as a kiss-and-make up move after they courted and were rejected by Peyton Manning, his new deal gets him $8.25 million guaranteed next season. Unless the Jets are willing to eat all of the money and cut Sanchez, or swallow a good chunk of it in a trade, then he will be back. Sanchez has been sabotaged by the worst group of skill position players in the league and that was true even before Santonio Holmes was lost for the season in the fourth game.
4. Dump Tony Sparano
Heís a bad fit as the offensive coordinator and a big mistake by Ryan. Woody should have hired Todd Haley, who came in for an interview. Haley was hired by the Steelers, instead. Sparanoís background is as an offensive line coach. When the Dolphins ran the Wildcat in 2008 in the first of Sparanoís four years as head coach, it was not his offense. It was devised by QB coach David Lee. Sparanoís play-calling is archaic. He is a ground-and-pound coach in a passing league. Three offensive coordinators in three years will not be good for Sanchez, but he has regressed in Sparanoís system.
5. Say Goodbye To Terrible Tim
The Jets have to trade or cut Tim Tebow after the season. Itís the right thing to do for the team and for him. Johnson said the decision to trade for Tebow belonged to Ryan and Tannenbaum and was not his way of selling more PSLs or hot dogs. But if the coaches wanted him, why arenít they playing him? Just being who he is and not because of anything he has said or done, Tebow has been a huge distraction. The reward has not come close to justifying the risk. The Jets surely know that by now.
Even with all the tumult during the Ryan era, the Jets have 36 victories, including the playoffs. The Giants have 37. Theyíve each won four playoff games. The difference, of course, is the Giants added another ring to their collection while the Jets keep adding more sideshows to the circus.