John Idzik held his midseason press conference today.
You can click here to watch it and join me below for my thoughts. (Or you can just join me for my thoughts if you don't want to watch.)
I don't think it's possible to come off well in a setting like this when your team is 1-7. The question is whether you merely come off badly, or whether we need to invoke words like horrendous and abysmal. I'm not sure Idzik could have handled this worse.
This press conference reminded me of the press conferences Rich Kotite held during his run as Jets head coach. He would offer effusive praise over the effort of the team as the losses piled up week after week. It felt like only three words were missing to make this a dead ringer for a Kotite presser, "We were swarming."
He started off decently enough. He took responsibility for the team's failing. All you can really do is state this is unacceptable and articulate a vision that inspires confidence that you know how to get this thing turned around. It probably would have been better for him just to stop. He didn't, though.
For a man who talked at length about being in this together with his fanbase, it sure doesn't sound like Idzik really understands the market he is in or the fanbase he is dealing with. He goes on to shower the team with effusive praise. He singles out Rex Ryan as doing a great job. He notes that players were banged up but kept playing in garbage time against San Diego. He cites meaningless stats like long scoring drives and time of possession as though these are substitutes for victory. He claims the plan is sound, and goes on to defend the decisions the team has made, contradicting the earlier statement about the missteps the Jets have made. And there's so much more.
This might have played well with a number of fanbases, but it doesn't here, not with this team and not in this city. After talking about how unacceptable things were at the start, he proceeded to go on a 15 minute filibuster about how everything is great.
Rex Ryan isn't doing a good job this year. He's doing a bad job. He's probably getting fired. Addressing things in the way Idzik did means he's either not being truthful, or he can't see an obvious problem right in front of his face. Neither is a good trait for a general manager. And that goes for a lot of what he said.
He then proceeded to struggle to answer some very fair questions such as why the fanbase should trust his plan given the results, whether the team read too much into Geno Smith's limited sample size of success last December, and the handling of the cornerback position over the offseason.
Although it's a distant second to running football operations in a credible manner, a part of this job in New York is projecting to the fanbase the image that things are under control, and there is a good plan in place. It's important because fans do matter.
Don't put words into my mouth when I say that. A team shouldn't consult with focus groups of fans on personnel decisions. Fans do matter in this process, though. If they don't believe there is a good plan in place, they stop coming to the stadium. Nothing in the NFL gets people fired than empty seats. Tens of thousands no shows not spending money at the stadium can be costly, even if tickets are purchased.
For those of you around long enough to remember the Kotite days you might recall that there was more to the Jets' subsequent courtship of Bill Parcells than the 4-28 two year stretch. That mattered, but what really got Leon Hess' attention was the ghost town Giants Stadium turned into at the end of the 1-15 season in 1996. A bad record drives no shows, but displays like we saw today aren't going to help.