2011 was probably not Mike Tannenbaum's best year. The team he is charged to oversee saw a decrease in overall talent. I think he takes too hard of a hit on this front, though. Tannenbaum had to spend an extremely condensed offseason playing defense. He had key players hitting free agency up and down the roster. With the CBA situation unclear, he could not do much work extending key players in advance. It was inevitable the team was going to lose some of them. As it is, he locked up most of his key free agents.
He tried every creative approach under the sun to end up with Nnamdi Asomugha, the best free agent on the market. The Jets might have already had Darrelle Revis, but there are only so many top level players in the league. Aggressively pursuing one is difficult to get upset about.
On top of this, no key free agent the Jets lost did much of anything with a new team. Yes, there were some moves I did not necessarily agree with like signing Plaxico Burress instead of trying to keep Braylon Edwards. Maybe Braylon would have been better off in familiar surroundings, but the fact he currently does not have a team is pretty telling.
Tannenbaum undoubtedly failed in some key ways, though. The offensive line was clearly not handled well. Wayne Hunter played adequately down the stretch in 2010, but handing him the right tackle job was a big mistake in retrospect. He got Mark Sanchez hit over 20 times. Tannenbaum also had chances to improve depth and neglected to do so. By contrast, the Patriots picked up Brian Waters when the Chiefs cut the highly regarded guard. When they lost their center, Waters helped bring stability to their line and ended up in the Pro Bowl. When Nick Mangold got hurt, the Jets had to use an undrafted rookie.
Another area where Tannenbaum failed was adding more to the pass rush, particularly since the Jets were transitioning to a coverage based scheme. Aaron Maybin was a great scrap heap pickup as a situational guy, but there were other bargain basement guys available that Tannenbaum did not touch in free agency. Another neglected piece of this was the defensive line. The Jets really missed Shaun Ellis and Trevor Pryce this year. The team had a bunch of defensive linemen who were big and could hold the point of attack but nobody who could collapse the pocket. Ellis is not doing much for New England, but the team missed what he brought to the table last year. Muhammad Wilkerson played well for a rookie, but he could not replace everything Ellis did so quickly.
The 800 pound gorilla in the room, though, regarding Tannenbaum is the play of Mark Sanchez. Sanchez was supposed to carry more of the load this year. The team's success depended on it. Sanchez was not up to the task, and by the end of the year, the Jets had to scale things back on offense. Quarterback is the most important position on the field. It is really difficult to win without a good one. We are getting close to the point where we can say Tannenbaum is 0 for 2 trying to Draft a franchise quarterback with Kellen Clemens being the other. A general manager can be the best in every other area, but one who cannot identify and get a franchise quarterback is probably not going to build a championship team.
Tannenbaum's overall body of work is still probably good enough to buy him more time. I heavily disapprove of the way he has handled the Brian Schottenheimer situation. If Schottenheimer sticks around, that is an indication to me that Tannenbaum should probably go sooner rather than later since it would prove he cannot identify and fix an obvious and critical flaw. Maybe he is going to fire Schottenheimer, though, if the Jaguars do not hire him. Maybe Tannenbaum gets the problem and is just handling it really ridiculously, getting in front of a microphone and lying to everybody when he says Schottenheimer is good. If that is the case, I would be less inclined to see him go.
Either way, Tannenbaum is lucky he has build up good will because he has needed to cash it this year. Do you think he should stay or go?