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What Has Happened to the Jets organization?

Manish Mehta wrote an interesting story today on the behind the scenes drama surrounding the Jets. I recommend everyone read the article, but the synopsis of it is that basically everyone in the locker room canít stand Tim Tebow and most in the front office feel the same way. But I think the issue here is far bigger than that story, which is clearly going to be the headline, in particular Matt Slausonís comments where he took a big dig at Tebow as a QB that could have repercussions. The bigger issue is that the Jets front office has totally lost control of this team.

The meltdown of the New York Jets in 2011 and 2012 may be looked at as a turning point in this franchises history, one not for the better. There are probably a good amount of people who follow my writings on this site that donít remember some of the bad days for the team. For as much as I railed on Herman Edwards and Eric Mangini and the overall disappointing finishes, the fact is the Jets have been a pretty successful franchise over the last decade plus of football. Since Edwards took over for Al Groh the Jets have had 7 winning seasons, 6 playoff appearances, 2 AFC championship appearances, and 1 division title. Only 3 times were the Jets a complete non-factor late in the season (2003, 2005, and 2007). Yes the goal is to win a Super Bowl but over a 10 year period that is pretty good all things considered.

People I think tend to forget or never experienced what the Jets were prior to 1997, the year when Bill Parcells took over the franchise and turned them from a laughingstock into a contender with a solid foundation. Maybe people were not around to remember the days of Joe Walton in the 1980s. I was young during Waltonís days (14 at the end of his tenure) but vividly remember the ďJoe Must GoĒ chants and people coming to the games with bags on their heads. That was followed by Bruce Coslet coming in pushing a young QB named Browning Nagle down the throats of the organization until quickly changing course and pursuing his former Bengals QB Boomer Esiason. Nagle was a colossal failure and Boomer was no longer a top flight QB. Pete Carroll was next often being found playing pickup basketball rather than coaching the team in his brief tenure as coach. It all culminated with the amazing Rich Kotite whose philosophy was as long as we all show up to play on Sunday we all receive a paycheck. From 1987 thru 1996 the Jets had a grand total of 1 winning season at a record of 8-7-1. Yes if not for a tie it would have likely been a decade where the high water mark was 0.500. The team had one playoff appearance and had a season in which they won all of 1 football game.

The Jets were the Cleveland Browns of today. Nothing expected and a team nobody respected. The drafts picks were all terrible. Blair Thomas, Johnny Mitchell, Roger Vick, Dave Cadigan, and Kyle Brady. They went after old broken down players with name value- Art Monk, Ronnie Lott, Esiason- to look proactive when the reality was there was no real vision. The team showed no signs of a turnaround. The players were all out for themselves. That all changed when Parcells took over the team. Parcells instituted control over the team. He brought in certain players to enforce his rules and found the few in the old guard that wanted that discipline and wanted to win. That attitude carried over from coach to coach. Certainly there were bumps along the way, namely Al Groh in 2000 who the players quit on and Edwards in 2005 when he was negotiating with the Chiefs during the season, but for the most part the team has always had control until now.

The only times I can remember this type of public locker room nonsense in the last decade was 2005, when Chad Pennington got injured again and one of his lineman called him an ďeggĒ. As fans we all speculated on Brett Favreís effect on team morale in 2008, but other than players seen sulking the tearing apart of the team never seemed to happen in public. Players were unhappy with contracts and Pennington with the media treatment but by and large issues between players were kept to a minimum in the public eye. Now everyone talks and everyone has an agenda.

These donít feel like the Jets of 2009 and 2010 where there was still carryover from the past and enough solid winning veteran leadership to keep things under control. In 2009 the Jets had one wildcard in Kerry Rhodes but the leaders were in place to shut him down and get him shipped out of town. Rex Ryan won games in 09 and 10 with a roster he largely inherited from the former coach. He added some important pieces, but the foundation was in place. People forget that Walton won as well with a veteran core that kept things in check. Not that Walton was ever as successful as Ryan, but when the Joe Kleckos, Marty Lyons, and Mickey Shulers of the world started to lose their spots so did the control and discipline of the team. The old veteran leaders are gone now too and never were replaced. The Jets ideas of replacements reek of the moves the Jets made with those early 90s teams making the grab for names over value. Tim Tebow. Plaxico Burress. Derrick Mason. Not good.

Like in the 90s under Kotite everyone has an opinion. Its one thing for Antonio Cromartie, one of the best players in the league at his position to open his mouth, but another for Aaron Maybin, who never plays and was just cut, to be calling out other teams on behalf of the team. You have rookies complaining about their preseason treatment. You have a starting QB throwing his hands up on the sideline because of coaching decisions. You have players running to the media at every chance to throw someone under the bus for not being a good teammate or good player. This isnít a team. Itís a collection of 53 players who know they are playing for a job somewhere and they are going to do whatever they can to keep their job. If it means throwing someone else under the bus because that is what they think the coach feels so be it. If it means just doing their own thing on the field because some scout wants to see stats so be it.

Read the quoted from Mehtaís article and its discouraging to read what the non-players have to say. They bashed the decision making by the GM saying look at how bad the receivers are. They bashed the decision for Tebow saying it would take something epic to get Sanchez out of the game and Tebow in. This is CYA at its worst right now. Those players, coaches, and staff all know what lies ahead if this continues and its turning into a backstabbing contest to keep a job.

This needs to change. This is the direction that Rex Ryan and Woody Johnson took this team and the front office lost all control because of it. The front office needs to develop their own personality and be stronger willed. Under Eric Mangini they took on the identity of Mangini. They didnít speak. The moves were all cautious, methodical, and planned. Under Rex it completely changed. Everyone speaks. Everything is seat of your pants make a big splash move. Everything is great because Rex is ultra positive and that is reflected in the personnel decisions that have been made since 2010.

At some point in time Mike Tannenbaum needs to be himself and work with his coaches. He can not be his coaches. He canít be flexible like that. You have to master your job to be an effective GM in the league not simply being a guy that just follows the lead of whomever you hire to coach the team. But that is what he has done and itís blowing up so badly that the Jets are going to lose paying customers in droves in the short term future. Its become an embarrassment and unless they rattle off a huge winning streak that isnít going to change without Tannenbaum putting his foot down and retaking control of the team. If he does not do that the Jets will be back to the pre-Parcells time period, which is a place no Jets fan ever hoped to be.

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