The Jet Set

Thoughtful coverage for thinking fans.

Is An Off-Season From Hell An Off-Season That Helps?

Mike Tannenbaum in happier times. Now the Jets must recover from his legacy.

Mike Tannenbaum in happier times. Now the Jets must recover from his legacy.

– By Rich Wilhelm –

In the current NFL climate, far too many fans think that the only way to reach a Super Bowl is to spend until you are flirting with the ceiling of the salary cap. The term “off-season dream team” is a fallacy, and the importance of team chemistry far outweighs that of a handful of big names on paper. The Eagles recently tried the big name route and instead of rising up the ranks, they completely fell apart. Chemistry is key, and the revolving door that was the 2012 New York Jets was doomed from the beginning because such an important ingredient was put on the back burner. Small moves equal boom or bust; big moves equal boom or break the bank, and trying to get one year of glory can cripple your whole team. We are currently seeing the New York Jets trying to recover from former GM Mike Tannenbaum’s legacy, and so a question that must presently be considered is this: Is an off-season from hell an off-season that helps?

Jets fans are scrambling to find a reason why their team is being disbanded by the day. There is no way to sugarcoat the situation; that is exactly what is happening. But what fans need to realize is the fact that the sky is not falling – for once the Jets are doing exactly what they need to be doing. John Idzik was brought here to be a general manager who could build a team that can compete year in and year out – the current team is clearly not capable of that, and so they need to be in full rebuild mode. The word “rebuild” is a dirty term in the NFL, but inevitably most teams, if not all, have to do it. When the pieces click, great things can happen. Yet still there are many fans out there who want Idzik’s head on a silver platter because of all the out-of-contract players that the team is losing. Stop. The fact of the matter is that Tannenbaum threw all of his chips into the center of the table and he lost the hand. Idzik is doing a cleanup so he can actually start his own regime.

David Garrard: The former Dolphin is the man to take over from Mark Sanchez.

David Garrard: The former Dolphin is the man to take over from Mark Sanchez.

An NFL roster begins with the quarterback. The whole ‘defense wins championships’ mantra is all well and good, but in reality a quarterback is the most important piece on the board. At long last, under Marty Mornhinweg’s watchful eye, Mark Sanchez may finally have real competition from David Garrard this season. Many fans are wondering why the team is not trying to trade for a player like Matt Flynn or spending money trying to lure a quarterback away from their team. But yet again the Jets are doing exactly what they need to be doing: Why waste cap money for another 6-10 record? Throwing in a stop-gap quarterback who may bring some life to this team is a good thing. The Jets did not have a starting-caliber quarterback, and Idzik’s regime could not begin until they did. Is there a potential starter on the present roster? Absolutely. If everyone enters training camp on an even playing ground, there is no reason why Garrard can’t win the job. Over the past few years, favoritism has run wild through the Jets locker-room with Sanchez being the golden boy – especially in Rex Ryan’s eyes. If Rex wants to keep his job this has to stop. Idzik is not afraid to lose people and one day that casualty list could clearly include Rex himself. The honeymoon is over, and now the underdog Jets are back in full swing.

The word smart is not usually a synonym that’s used when talking about the Jets, but this is the first time in many years when we can say that this is exactly what they’re being. A team can never truly flourish if their young talent keeps getting buried on the depth chart, and so it bodes well that this year will more or less be an open tryout for the Jets to see what they have on their books. Anyone can win a roster spot and, as gloomy as the future looks, that will be an exciting thing to witness.

The New Blood: Quinton Coples looks on as Mo WIlkerson celebrates a sack.

The New Blood: Quinton Coples looks on as Mo WIlkerson celebrates a sack.

Sometimes a team at the bottom can grow to be a team at the top just from the drive of its players. Teams get comfortable when they think they are great, but when it comes to the Jets the ideation is to play for your position. The team’s young talent is finally the building block of the Jets identity. It is out with the old guard of Bart Scott and Calvin Pace and in with the new blood such as Mohammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, Demario Davis and new starter Kenrick Ellis. Another player who will get a chance to be a starter is Mike Goodson. He was submerged on the Oakland depth chart and, according to running back coach Anthony Lynn, the backfield position is “wide open.” The off-season signings – including Antwan Barnes and Antonio Garay – may have not been flashy, but they are additions that are cheap and that can help the team grow. It is good to have bright spots on the roster as genuine Jets fans watch while their team attempts to battle back to the top. All the bandwagon fans clinging on from the back-to-back AFC championship games will fall to the wayside. The same goes for fans strictly rooting for Tim Tebow and not the team as a whole.

For the next few years the New York Jets will be like a turnstile at a busy subway station. There will be many new faces, many hard cuts, and a lot of players fighting to claim their job. It is a scary thought that out of 53 players only a handful will have ever been full-time starters. It is even scarier that only half of those players would actually start for another NFL team. Consequently, the upcoming draft is vital for the New York Jets – if they whiff on their prospects, it will set them back years. Tannenbaum and Ryan picked “their guys” instead of looking at the whole of the team. They must now transition from being a team that picked the best available player (example being Kyle Wilson in 2010), to being one where every position has holes that need to be filled. Looking at the roster there are no solid positions – if a starter were to go down, John Idzik has his work cut out for him.

And so the question remains: Is an off-season from hell an off-season that helps? Well, you may want to hold on tight Jets Nation. We are about to find out.

What do you think? Should the Jets rip it up and start again, or would that be going too far? Let us know in the comments section below.

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One comment on “Is An Off-Season From Hell An Off-Season That Helps?

  1. M Kozlow (@DoctorKoz)
    March 26, 2013

    “They must now transition from being a team that picked the best available player (example being Kyle Wilson in 2010), to being one where every position has holes that need to be filled. Looking at the roster there are no solid positions – if a starter were to go down, John Idzik has his work cut out for him.”

    This is exactly why the jets NEED to draft BPA and not reach for “their guy.” There is no player at any position that is automatic (until we resign Revis) right now, and drafting the best payer available loads the roster with talent (obviously you would look over corners in this situation as you might overlook a DT type player – using the current state of the roter as an example).

    Drating for holes requires you to ignore your draft board and focus on gaps in your roster, sacrificing (to some extent – which is the trade off you need to determine) talent for fit. This is the appropriate strategy when you are a piece or two away from taking the next step from making it all the way (ie – Falcons drafting Julio Jones…most of the rest of the team’s pieces were in place and they just needed that one playmaker).

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This entry was posted on March 26, 2013 by in Rich Wilhelm.
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