BREAKING NEWS! BREAKING NEWS! The Jets stink.
Let me start with a history lesson on my beloved New York Jets, just so you can see the situation Idzik walked in on. Then, I’ll break down the reign of Idzik category-by-category, failure-by-failure.
After decades of consistent mediocrity with a few watchable teams here and there, the Jets finally seemed to have it figured out in 2010. A young quarterback in Mark Sanchez, a workhorse of a running-back in Thomas Jones, a strong, trustworthy offensive line, and showstopping defense led by Darrelle Revis and friends. This team made its way to the AFC championship game in consecutive seasons, only to come up short to teams led by America’s best: Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. Anyone who knew anything about football knew that the Sanchize and the Jets were legit. Remember the song? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfTocQKy-bQ)
In 2011, they were Sports Illustrated’s preseason pick to win the Superbowl. These Jets, after years of failure, inadequacy, and failure, were a legitimate football team that was on the rise. The Jets were primed for a story book ending. As Bart Scott said, it was ‘Poetic Justice.’ Then…
Everything went wrong. The wide receivers disappeared, Thomas Jones left, LT retired, Leon Washington and Darrelle Revis tore their ACLs, and Sanchez regressed to the level of a slow, inbred mule. Jets games grew so painful to watch that fans began chanting for Greg McElroy’s to come in for Sanchez. Say what you will about the Sanchize, but Greg McElroy… that’s low.
In response to fan uproar and an abysmal six-and-ten season, good ol’ Woody decided to make front office changes, as he should have. His first victim: Mike Tannenbaum. His biggest mistake: John Idzik. Don’t get me wrong, Idzik seemed to be a fit. The Jets had a plethora of draft picks to come, and Idzik’s draft resumé was nothing short of impressive, given that he was on the committee that drafted Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Russell Wilson in the 3rd round and Richard Sherman in the 5th. The Jets were also in a bit of a cap dilemma, and Idzik was known to be thrifty in his spending. In just a year, the Jets seemed to be back on track; with a few cuts, draft picks, and trades, the Jets had the ability to be a playoff contending squad.
Needless to say, in the span of just two years the Jets snowballed into one of the worst teams in football. The obvious question: What the hell happened? The Jets had picks on picks on picks, a scary front seven, a ton of cap room after the 2013 season, and a fiery coach who nearly every NFL talent would love to play for. How could a team like this become so horrendous? Answer: John Idzik. Here’s why.
Upon being hired as the New York Jets’ new general manager, Idzik faced a deep yet manageable cap situation. Inheriting a few of Tannenbaum’s blunderous contracts, Idzik made a few necessary cuts budget wise, that may have taken a tole on the team. He gave the axe to Bart Scott, Jim Leonard and Sione Pouha: all team captains at least once. His blueprint was clear: he was attempting to set himself up for a spending spree following the 2013 season. Along with mass cuts came the dealing of Darrelle Revis, owner of Revis Island and the face of the Jets and their recent success, for first and fourth round picks. Basically, the 2013 season was a throwaway season, and a good one at that. Finishing with an 8-8 record, the Jets ended the season on a two game win streak, and gained great momentum in the process. Idzik was in perfect position to make a splash in free agency and fill the holes in the Jets uneven roster. To add even more cap room, he smartly cut cornerback Antonio Cromartie and quarterback Mark Sanchez, both of which were bound to make a huge a dent in the Jets wallet. Before March 11th, the start of free agency, the Jets were over fifty million dollars under the salary cap. Other than the Raiders, no team was expected to be more active than the Jets in terms of free agent acquisitions in 2014. lol.
Idzik simply did not pursue anyone. This year’s Jets, at the end of the offseason, were depleted, injured, and beaten down in the secondary, to say the least. Their top corner was Dee Milliner, who although may have an unfathomable amount of swag, has yet to be proven as a trustworthy cornerback. Safeties Dawan Landry and Antonio Allen were at their best inconsistent.
The crazy thing is, the free agent market was loaded with defensive backs! Really good ones! Donte Whitner, T.J. Ward, Vontae Davis, Alterraun Verner, and Jairus Byrd, all former or inevitable pro-bowlers, were playmakers who although may not be perfect scheme fits (Davis and Verner are traditional zone corners), would have improved the Jets secondary immensely. He passed on every single one of them. After the better backs signed elsewhere, there were still plenty of solid players that would be vital to success in New York, namely Louis Delmas, Chris Clemons, Captain Munnerlyn, Walter Thurmond III, and Antonio Cromartie. Again, Idzik passed on all of them, who signed with other teams for nearly nothing. Cromartie, a long-time Jet who had great chemistry with Rex Ryan was signed by the Cardinals for a one year, three and a half million dollar deal. Was Idzik under the impression that the Jets could not afford that? Instead, he signed Dimitri Patterson to virtually the same deal. Cromartie has been a solid corner for the Cardinals, who boast one of the best secondaries in the league. Patterson played a grand total of zero snaps for the Jets, after throwing a temper tantrum and going AWOL before a preseason game.
However, easily the most horrific mishap was the infamous mishandling of Darrelle Revis. Revis, arguably the best cornerback in the NFL, was released by the Buccaneers due to his inability to fit in their soft zone style. He was sought by nearly every team that could afford him. Out of all of these teams, Revis openly stated that he’d “love to return to New York”. The Jets were frontrunners to snag him. With the right deal, the Jets could have completed one of the greatest coups in football history: trading away their recently injured star for first and fourth round picks, only to have him return rehabilitated just one year later. With Revis alone, the Jets would have had a formidable secondary. Idzik let him get away. Not only did Idzik let him get away, but to the Jets greatest, most competitive rival, the New England Patriots. The Patriots offered him a one year deal for twelve million dollars, and the Idzik refused to match. The Patriots finished the season 12-4. The Jets finished 4-12. Funny how that worked out.
Not only did Idzik fail in signing corners, but also in improving other needy positional groups, specifically the wide receivers and quarterback corps. To be fair, neither of these markets were quite deep, however, Idzik certainly did not make the most of his spending money. He failed to pursue Jeremy Maclin, a shifty wide receiver who finished the 2014 regular season with 1200+ yards, 10 touchdowns, and 80+ receptions, which is especially impressive given the fact that he spent half the season catching balls from the Sanchize himself. Idzik opted to skip a meeting with Emmanuel Sanders, a current Bronco who caught for 1300+ yards, 7 touchdowns, and 90+ receptions this year, to go to a Texas Tech Pro Day. He, in a change of pace, didn’t pass on Eric Decker, signing him to a five year, 35+ million dollar deal. In contrast, Decker has 62 receptions for 720 yards and four touchdowns. Sure, he’s playing without a quarterback, but he clearly lacks the burning athleticism that Maclin and Sanders have. He’s sure-handed and runs clean routes, but he’s not worth 35 million dollars, a ridiculous sum he received due to his crazy inflated stats thanks to Peyton Manning. Idzik, a man who is obsessed with not overspending no matter the talent, overspent on an athlete without real talent. That makes sense??
Onto the Quarterback. Idzik did little to improve the Jets signal-caller situation, stupidly trusting a painfully inconsistent Geno Smith. Offenses run the NFL. The Super Bowl contending teams are the teams that score, and score a lot. It’s why the Cardinals are out of the playoffs. Thus, it would only make sense that general managers prioritize the quarterback position above all others. Most general managers are not John Idzik, who, for some reason, has openly stated that all positions are equal, and that he treats them that way when pursuing free agents and draft picks. That statement is pretty telling of why the Jets have been a laughing stock this season; If a general manager does not value the quarterback position over all others, the team will stink, and the Jets have been a living embodiment of this. The only effort Idzik made to bolster the QB spot was Vick. He signed Michael Vick to a one year, four million dollar deal. Geno was Idzik’s guy, and Idzik was steadfast in wanting him to be the starter.
Idzik was unable to improve the roster in not just the secondary and wide receiver positions, but also due to his weird fetish for Geno Smith. Let’s be real here. I don’t even think Geno thinks he’s a good player (Okay, I lied. He’s said to the press a billion times he thinks he can be a pro-bowler– but you get the point).
What a general manager can screw up in free agency, he can probably make up in the draft. The draft is the lifeline of NFL organizations nowadays; teams have often been able to find young, sustainable talent in all seven rounds. Luckily for Idzik, a man who absolutely fudged free agency, the Jets had twelve draft selections set for the 2014 draft, the most of any NFL team. Idzik had ample opportunity to make up for his disastrous “effort” in free agency.
He whiffed on literally every pick. Check it.
Calvin Pryor, Safety, Louisville: I’ll admit it, I thought the Louisville slugger was gonna be a good player, too. Calvin Pryor has been nothing short of a bust since his dropped interception against the Oakland Raiders in week one. He’s missed tackles, blown coverages, and even been late to meetings. These unfortunate truths have led to his eventual benching. His back-up, Jaiquawn Jarrett, was fantastic in his place, and had he not gotten hurt, Calvin Pryor might still be on the bench. Calvin Pryor is playing in a horrible secondary, but the missed tackles and lack of awareness cannot be excused.
Jace Amaro, Tight End, Texas Tech: Jace Amaro was Idzik’s best pick of the draft. That’s right, a 35 reception, three hundred yard, two touchdown player with a bad case of the dropsies is the highlight of Idzik’s twelve player draft. Don’t get me wrong, Amaro’s got nice potential. He’s a physical freak at 6’5, 265 pounds, but has evident problems when it comes to actually catching the football. Not a good pick by any other team’s standards, but it may go somewhere in the future.
Dexter McDougle, CB, Maryland: The position was correct, just not the player. McDougle’s first three games of his final season at Maryland were absolutely dirty, as he compiled three interceptions to go along with a few pass break-ups. However, a torn labrum kept him out of the final nine games. How can you take an inexperienced player so high? The third round is way too early for unproven players, especially at a position where proven players are indispensable. McDougle missed the entire 2014 season with a torn ACL.
Jalen Saunders, WR, Oklahoma: Cut after muffing a punt in primetime. Currently on the Saints. Good one, Idzik.
Shaq Evans, WR, UCLA: Missed the whole season with a shoulder injury. Good size at 6’1, 213 pounds, but rather slow, as he ran his forty in an unimpressive time of 4.51 seconds. Martavis Bryant was available. Eek.
Dakota Dozier, G, Furman: Back-up. The Jets need impact players. Why are you taking back-ups out of Furman college when the Jets don’t even have a quarterback? Is that even a college?
Jeremiah George, LB, Iowa State: Cut. Currently on the Jaguars.
Brandon Dixon, CB, Missouri State: Cut. Currently on the Buccaneers.
Quincy Enunwa, WR, Nebraska: Cut. Bad player.
Ik Enemkpali, LB, LA Tech: Back-up who sees time here and there. I can only imagine Rex Ryan attempting to say his name in the congratulatory phone call the draftees get.
Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson: Cut.
Trevor Reilly, LB, Utah: Special Teams.
There’s a recurring theme in all twelve of these players: none of them are good. Idzik successfully pulled off arguably the worst draft of all time, which is impressive given the high amount of picks he had at his disposal. Idzik has had nineteen picks in his career with the Jets, and has whiffed on all but two of them. Sheldon Richardson, a dominant defensive lineman, was a surprisingly brilliant pick. Outspoken and ferocious from the start, Richardson was able to silence the ninety-nine percent of Jets fans who had never heard of him when he was picked, first round, thirteenth overall (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMINddmKdEo). Sheldon Richardson went on to win Defensive Rookie of the Year, and has earned his inevitable future pro-bowl selections. His other solid pick was Dee Milliner, who by all means is not a superstar quite yet, but is also certainly not a whiff. After a horrendous first twelve games and three benchings, Dee Milliner had one of the more ridiculous Decembers that any defensive back has ever had, including back-to-back games in which he amassed three interceptions, ten pass breakups, and an unquantifiable amount of swag (I like Dee Milliner, sue me). Milliner missed most of this year with a torn achilles, but will likely be a solid piece of the Jets secondary in the future. Still, Idzik whiffed, and whiffed often, and his underwhelming drafts have played a huge role in the Jets’ overall incompetence.
John Idzik dug the Jets into a hole. It may take years for the organization to dig themselves back out of it, especially considering their owner’s predilection for incapable front office personnel. Idzik needed to be fired, plain and simple. He is the saddest excuse for a GM the world has ever seen.