College players, NFL scouts, coaches and GMs are currently checking in for this years NFL scouting combine and yesterday Rex Ryan and John Idzik talked to reporters to answer some questions on recent moves, projected moves and of course what’s the deal with all the Darrelle Revis trade rumors?
The Revis trade rumors began on Idzik’s first day on the job, which to some meant he was hired with a set game plan to trade Revis, but that’s quite a reach. The idea that Idzik would have needed to have a concrete answer to what to do with Revis without ever talking to him and opening up some form of negotiations with the star player is ridiculous. Is he really just going to decide to trade Revis without talking to him and seeing if they could work out a deal that was good for both sides? Of course not, just as he wouldn’t automatically decide to re-sign him without knowing what Revis’ demands are. Yes we’ve all heard that Revis supposedly wants to be the highest paid defender in the NFL, which means Mario Williams money, but we haven’t heard that from Revis or his agents, we’ve heard it from media speculation, just as we heard the “reports” of the Jets shopping Revis. And even if that is where Revis and his agents intend to open up the negotiations, that doesn’t mean that’s what he’ll get. Anyone who ever traded baseball cards with their friends as a kid knows to start negotiations with an outrageously high offer (fantasy football players should be rather familiar with this concept as well).
“It’s funny. The thing pops up, and I think it’s interesting, as John talked about, the very first day he gets the job and this is what I was telling Darrelle.” Ryan said, “When I called Darrelle, (I said), ‘Darrelle, let’s face it, the man hasn’t been on the job for 24 hours and now you’re going to get traded?’ I thought that was kind of interesting and I said, ‘It’s not accurate. Plain and simple it’s not accurate.’ I told him that. If he was going to be involved in a trade, I think he and his agents would know about it, as would the general manager and myself, I would think. So there’s no validity to that trade. I don’t know where things like that get drummed up from. Maybe somebody is a big fan of a certain team, and is playing fantasy football, and would like to have him on his team. I’m not sure.”
Things like this get started because, stuck in the news slump that is the offseason someone offers up some form of speculation that can’t be proven wrong and jump starts a national conversation. The media tossed football fans a juicy bone to chew on all offseason. In the NBA offseason trade talk and free agent speculation generates almost as much interest as NBA games themselves because one player can make such a huge impact on a team in basketball. It’s much harder to generate the same level of interest in hypotheticals in the NFL because there are very few players good enough to get everyone talking. Last year it was Peyton Manning, this year it’s Revis, which tells you just how good Revis really is. But all the speculation and reading into who said what and what they didn’t say is putting the cart before the horse, it makes for great headlines and fun debates, but we’re all just guessing at this point and we will be until he is either traded, re-signed or signs somewhere else after next season.
“Darrelle Revis is obviously a great football player. He’s a great New York Jet. He’s a tremendous asset to our football team and our organization. With respect to clarity, I don’t know that anything has really changed because we’ve always wanted Darrelle to be a part of our team. That has never changed.” Idzik said, “I think there have been rumors or stories published and it’s really hard for me or anybody in our organization to speculate and answer all the rumors or stories that we hear. With respect to Darrelle, we’ve always wanted him to be a part of the New York Jets. Our focus with Darrelle right now is to aid him in any way we can with his rehab so he returns to the player we all know he is. As such, he will be a tremendous asset to us.”
As a newly hired GM Idzik’s job is to assess the current roster and consider every possible option to improve the team, so naturally they’ll listen to offers for Revis just as they’ll listen for anyone else, but listening to offers or entertaining the idea of possibly trading Revis doesn’t mean they are looking to get rid of him. It means they are doing their job of exploring every possible option, if they get an offer they feel is too good to refuse they’ll make the trade, but don’t think for a second they aren’t also trying to construct a game plan to re-sign him.
“Specifically (talking about) Darrelle, I don’t think it’s something that’s limited to one person. With me and my job and Rex and everybody involved, we will always field calls and always have internal discussions about how we can improve our team day-to-day, position-by-position. That’s an ongoing process.” Idzik said, “That’s not isolated to any one player or any one position. That’s just something that we do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, particularly at this time when you’re going into free agency and the draft. There are a lot of what-if’s if you will that we will be discussing internally.”
To trade or not trade Revis is the headliner of this offseason but the bigger and more pressing issue is what to do at quarterback? Sanchez will likely still be with the Jets for the 2013 season, but will he have someone capable of being a starting caliber NFL quarterback to compete with or not?
“I don’t limit it to last year. I think it’s a full book.” Idzik said when asked about evaluating Sanchez’s play last year. “Mark Sanchez has been in the league for a couple of years, and I think everyone, Mark included, recognizes that he, our offense – shoot, our team as a whole – has to perform better than we did in 2012. And we’re going to do that. We’re going to do everything to increase the competition so that he plays better. We’ve got a new offensive coordinator, we have a new quarterback coach, we have staff changes that I think will be healthy for Mark and so that we can again get the juices flowing and turn the page into 2013, not look back to 2012, start anew and get rolling.”
Since Idzik held his introductory press conference he has been stressing the theme of competition at every spot and when Ryan was asked if Sanchez would enter the season as the starter Ryan stuck to Idzik’s script.
“Number one, you heard what John talked about, the competition. We’re going to bring in competition at every position, not just the quarterback position. That is what we want to do here.” Ryan said, “So to say, Mark Sanchez, or this quarterback or that quarterback, I think there’s clearly going to be competition at that position.”
While both Ryan and Idzik nicely sidestepped the Tebow questions with non-answers, it’s clear that Tebow is not the competition they are looking for. They could (and should) attempt to sign Matt Moore as a stop-gap or they could draft a quarterback in the mid rounds, they’ll surely draft or sign undrafted free agents quarterbacks to compete in camp, but with a less than impressive group of soon to be rookie quarterbacks they might be better off building up the rest of the roster and waiting till next year to find their new quarterback of the future.
With the combine getting started and the free agency period and draft just around the corner Idzik will have to deal with much more than just what to do with Revis and at quarterback as he will have to find ways to improve this team on both sides of the ball, which will take a lot of smart moves to pull of with the current state of the roster.
“I don’t think you isolate it to any one or a few positions. We’re going to have a general mantra here with the New York Jets and it’s going to be ‘Competition through and through.’ That’s going to be true this year in 2013 as we enter free agency, it’s going to be true as we go into the draft, it’s going to be true as we come out of the draft, it’s going to be true as we go into training camp and into our regular season.” Idzik said, “And if we have success and we win a championship, it’ll be true after we win a championship. I think it’s going to be something constant. We want to improve competition at every single position.”
As for what Ryan’s prospects are for 2013, he again reminded everyone he is out of the prediction business, but he does have one promise.
“One thing I’ll say is this, and we all feel this, I know I feel this, and I’m sure that many people in our organization feel that same way.” Ryan said, “We’re stepping up to the plate with a bat in our hand and we’re not going to let any strikes go by without swinging. We are going to take our cuts. We may take a cut at a ball in the ground as well, but we are definitely going to take our cuts.”
The first batch of strikes the Jets will need to hit come in free agency and more importantly the draft. If the Jets can crank a couple strikes over the fence in free agency, a few more in the draft mixed with some triples or doubles this team might get turned around faster than anyone expects, but if they swing and miss they’ll just be digging a bigger hole to bury themselves.