The date is January 7th, 2013. It’s been one week since the New York Jets won their last game of the season against the hapless Buffalo Bills, and the next day, a news bulletin came out of Florham Park, New Jersey. In his search for someone to blame for the failed 6-10 season, the second consecutive playoff-less season for the Jets, owner Woody Johnson has fired his General Manager, Mike Tannenbaum. Mr. Johnson has done some research into a replacement, and quickly hires Scott Salmon, a young, attractive law student to replace Mr. Tannenbaum. Why Mr. Salmon was chosen over certainly more experienced options is not the question at stake here. The question is; what would I do differently to create a dynasty?
The first thing that I would do if I were the new General Manager would be to engage in a serious, deep, and objective self-scouting mission to look at the members of front office and coaching staff. No individual employed for the New York Jets franchise would be spared this evaluation, no matter how long-standing his or her tenure with the team has been. A fully clean house is in order to rid the team of cancers and dead-ends. That does not mean that everyone would be fired, just those that are detriments to the end goal of winning a Super Bowl.
The next step would be to hire a new staff to replace those who are no longer with the team. This begins with a new Head Coach. I love Rex Ryan to death, and I fully appreciate the new demeanor, attitude, and identity of the team that he’s instilled, especially in remembrance of the Eric Mangini Era, however he must go if he is not willing to stay as the Defensive Coordinator. However there’s no reason that he would be willing to accept that demotion, especially since he can likely get another head coaching job for a team such as the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Cleveland Browns, the Philadelphia Eagles, the San Diego Chargers, or the Kansas City Chiefs.
No, I think it’s time to go to the outside. For too long, this team has engaged in a self-masturbatory exercise of an inability to objectively self-evaluate their own players, as well as innovate on the field and off. To that end, I would conduct interviews with, among others, Chip Kelly, of Oregon University, Rob Chudzinski, the offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers, Dana Holgorson of West Virginia University, Mike Leach, of Washington State University. My goal is to look for a young and hungry head coach. I’m not interested in old and outdated. I want an aggressive coach that sets the tempo both literally and metaphorically. My list is not comprehensive, and I never intended it to be. These are just some names of the type of coach I’m looking for. Innovative and aggressive, with offensive and defensive coordinators to match. Both sides of the ball should reflect this ideal.
Once the coaching staff has been hired in conjunction with the new head coach and a new scouting department, it’s time to look to the current roster, free agency and the draft. We need to face the fact that we’re in complete rebuilding mode, and, as with the staff, no player is immune to a careful evaluation. It’s time to cut bait with our older, slower players, and expensive players. We have already begun a youth revolution built on Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill, Quinton Coples, Muhammad Wilkerson (who, by the way, is ranked by Pro Football Focus as the fourth best defensive lineman in the league, including both 3-4 and 4-3 defenses), Demario Davis, etc. It’s time to continue that trend. The goal in building a new team is to look for young and high-energy players. The team must be built on depth. As we’ve seen this year, when one player goes down, another must step up. The great teams always have this trait.
As for the quarterback, the hot button issue of today, the fact is that we are stuck, for better or worse, with Mark Sanchez for another year due to his contract extension. But that’s all right, and in fact may be a good thing. What the Jets do not need to do is go out and get a veteran backup quarterback – that’s what Sanchez will do for us, and that’s probably his best role now. The goal now is to find a quarterback to draft. Let them sit on the bench for a while, until they are ready, and have Sanchez continue to start until that day comes. And when it comes, Sanchez will be the backup, where he most likely belongs. I’ve said my thoughts on Geno Smith, who I believe would be a stud with any of the offensive minds I mentioned above. There are other quarterbacks available though, and I’m not going to pretend I’ve studied them enough yet to make a ranking of the order I’d select them; this is just meant to be a general guideline.
When Mr. Tannenbaum drafts, he looks for the studs, the true playmakers. What this does is it forces you trade up and get only a few players from each draft. In an ideal world, this would be great. Unfortunately, if one player is a bust or becomes injured, it has far reaching ramifications, especially since you don’t have someone to replace them. Furthermore, once that game-changer becomes elite, you’re forced to pay them as such to keep them, and you just cannot build a roster and keep it under the salary cap with that as your main plan. No, I’m looking for a team, a collection of players that collectively are interchangeable. That isn’t to say I don’t want playmakers or game-changers, but finding those players should be an added benefit, not what you center your plan around. It’s too flimsy and shortsighted of a plan to work, as we’ve seen in the Tannenbaum Era. The goal here, after all, is to create a team for the ages, a team not just designed to win now, but as a dynasty for years to come.
This is, in all, a very general plan. I cannot provide specific front office underlings or coaches or players that I would specifically target; that is for another day. Instead, this was just meant to lay out a general plan that the team ought to, in my opinion, follow to reach glory. Now it’s your turn. What would you do as the General Manager?