In New York, people have massive expectations when it comes to their sports teams. They want greatness, and they're tired of waiting for it. The New York Jets have regressed this year, and as a result it's a foregone conclusion that some combination of John Idzik and/or Rex Ryan must go. However, I believe the greater problem lies deeper within the organization, as I have said before by pointing to Terry Bradway and the rest of the entrenched front office.
For too long, things have stayed the same. Woody Johnson has hired four first-time head coaches that all have a defensive background. That hasn't worked. The scouting department, consisting of Bradway (Senior Director, College Scouting), Jeff Bauer (Director, College Scouting), Brendan Prophett (Director, Pro Personnel), Matt Bazirgan (Assistant Director, Pro Personnel), have been with the team for an average of just over thirteen years. That hasn't worked.
The man behind the scenes is Ira Akselrad, the man in charge of The Johnson Company, which is the private investment company of Woody Johnson's family. Akselrad reportedly has unprecedented control over the organization, with the ear of Johnson and omnipresence within the facility. His reach extended into the hiring of John Idzik, according to ESPN:
Three candidates, reached by ESPNNewYork.com, described their interviews as unusual because no so-called football people were in the room. It was [Jed] Hughes [the executive recruiter in charge of the search], Johnson and team president Neil Glat and Johnson's attorney, Ira Akselrad.
"It was strange, to say the least," said one candidate, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "Let's just say there wasn't a lot of X's and O's talk."
This goes to the root of the problem. The organization desperately needs fresh blood within their front office, and they approach the team from a business-first approach. That's understandable to an extent, since it is a business, but if the team is truly serious about winning a championship, and I believe Johnson when he says he is, they're going about it all wrong. I don't doubt that Johnson wants to win. He's never had a problem spending to the cap, and he famously ripped up an expensive field when Rex Ryan realized it wasn't exactly to specs. What I doubt is that he wants it more than making money.
And I think that, truly, is the problem. You have these guys that have been around forever, and then you have this business approach that keeps Johnson insulated from hearing what he needs to hear and firing who he needs to fire. Normally, the best way to garner real change is to stop buying tickets, merchandise, etc. Like I said, it's a business, and they hear money above all else. However, it seems that with the current organization, the response to a business problem is a business solution, and that will only perpetuate the problem. Short of Johnson selling the team, or a true football guy breaking into the "inner circle," which isn't happening anytime soon, it seems destined to be a cyclical problem.
So how does the team get out of the problem? Johnson needs to get out of his circle. He needs to talk to the league office and ask for advice on who he should get to run the whole show. The team has done this before, when Leon Hess asked Pete Rozelle for a name, who gave him Jim Kensil. As we've said, this person doesn't have to be a General Manager; they can hire a strong Head Coach instead.
The important thing that needs to happen is that they are entirely responsible for building the team, with a football-first mindset, rather than a business-like approach. They need to be able to shake up the entire culture of the team, down to the dredges of the front office. A complete and total shift in the entire mindset that has led the team to where it currently stands is the only real solution. Unfortunately, the chances of that happening seem fairly slim.