Post Game Thoughts: Jets 9 Bills 28 Tweet
Time for the post mortem on the team. I watched the game at the bar today and admittedly didnít get a great look so I donít think its fair to do a usual breakdown like I normally would. There were too many moments missed, both good and bad, to do a fair assessment, but the result just typified the season. This ended up being the Jets 6th 15+ point loss on the year. That ties them with the 1996 and 1975 squads for second worst number of blowout defeats in team history. The Jets finished the year averaging just 12.4 points in their losses meaning they were completely non-competitive.
I suffered through 96 and I think this season was worse as crazy as it sounds. I think with 1996 there were at least a few silver linings. They did score points. They were in some games finding ways to lose before the bottom fell out at the end of the year. They were getting the number 1 pick in the draft. That doesnít mean it looked great but you could at least picture a team with a better coach competing for 0.500 the next year. This is a team on a decline. Basically half of the starting roster will either be free agents or let go due to high salary and low performance. They donít get an ultra high draft pick. There is no excuse for the QB position. In 1996 everyone knew Rich Kotite was a major problem and one move could fix it. I donít think anyone believe Rex Ryan is holding the team back in that manner. A different coach may fix some things, such as the over-reliance on players who cant play anymore, but in general it is what it is. The 1997 version of Bill Parcells is not coming here and turning this from a 6 win team into a playoff contender unless you get major changes in the roster that all hit next season
Over the last 4 seasons the Jets have grown blind to reality. That was the biggest negative of Rex Ryan and it is going to cost the general manager and countless number of front office personnel their jobs. Today was the perfect example of it as Ryan once again refused to pull out the overpaid and overhyped QB that clearly cant play at the NFL level right now. His head isnít right and keeping him out there just makes it worse. Everytime he threw a bad pass today or turned it over he had this look on his face like its not his fault. That wasnít leadership. Having an opposing stadium chanting for the backup QB(or at least that was the Twitter reports on it) only makes it worse. But Ryan is guided by gut feelings, personal relationships, and hope. That doesnít work in todays NFL.
Rex looks around that room and he sees many familiar faces that helped get him to championship games. Bart Scott doesnít belong on the field, but he was the heart of two defenses that got Rex there and a big contributor on ones that got him a head coaching job. He believes that the old Bart Scott still exists. Unfortunately this is the NFL and it doesnít. He sees Calvin Pace and Eric Smith and sees his starting linebackers and safety on a team that almost made the Super Bowl. They cant play, but Rex doesnít see that. They were there two years ago. The Jets have waited for the Shonn Greene of a handful of late season games in 2009 to become a 16 game player for the last three years. It never happened but in Rexs gut he believes it will. He saw firsthand what he could do in the 2009 playoffs. It has to show up eventually. The problem is it wont.
Rex can quote all the statistics he wants but everyone knows that this defense isnít near the 2009 or even the 2010 version. For the last two years their points allowed based on level of competition is around average. Their yards they allow based on level of competition are around average. Their performance per starting field position is pretty average. Its not bad but its not shut you out good. But Rex believes it can do it. Sanchez did just enough those years to win games. Rex just assumes he can still do it, but those were different teams with different levels of skill to hide the fact that Mark couldnít pass the ball to save his life. The reality was if the Jets had a seasoned veteran in 2009 they would have won the Super Bowl. Maybe in 2010 as well. Rex doesnít see that but we all know its true. So Rex just trots him out there waiting to see the safe play he saw against the Patriots or Chargers, his greatest moments as a pro and for Rex as a coach. Its never going to happen.
The blindness hit the front office where they threw caution to the wind with their contracts. From 2006 thru 2009 you had one of the most careful proactive front offices in the NFL. Players were hit with de-escalator clauses in the event they were one season wonders. Bonus structures were used to maximize cap space and leave options open to quickly move on from the player if they busted. That includes almost all of the big free agents - Alan Faneca, Damien Woody, Kris Jenkins, Bart Scott, Thomas Jones- and draft choices like Vernon Gholston and Mark Sanchez and Darrelle Revis. That all changed in 2010. I donít know if it was when Ryan butted into the Revis negotiations and was the catalyst behind the Jets caving in and extending him or if it was sometime after that, but that is when it happened.
The protection was replaced by large guaranteed salaries that made players unmovable. Whether it was Scott or Sanchez this past season or Santonio Holmes or David Harris this upcoming year the Jets moved in a direction where everything was expected to work. Unfortunately nothing, other than Antonio Cromartie, did. Safe well researched draft selections were replaced by small school prospects and reaches at the top of the draft. The Jets would cheap out at certain positions, with the expectation that Rex would make it work, in order to overpay their stars. None of it was based in reality. It was all just based on hope and instinct. Tim Tebow was the perfect example. Every fan said ďwhat are you doingĒ, but Rex said he wanted it and thus it would be good. Needless to say it was not.
Itís point out a damaging problem with the current general manager who has proven to just take on the personality of his coach. Its unheard of in sports. Normally you develop a team culture and then find a coach that fits that culture or becomes part of it. The Jets have no team culture. Itís the voice of the moment. A strong GM would have never seen the organization transform from the Eric Mangini Jets to the Rex Ryan Jets. It was a philosophical shift so strong and so fast that it is unheard of in sports or business. When people talk of culture in the NFL and winning ways itís a commitment to a franchise philosophy. That doesnít mean you keep everyone forever as some state but you keep your vision the same. The Giants and Steelers always have the same vision despite the changing faces. That is what the Jets need and their GM does not give it to them. He acquiesces too much to his coaches.
Its in the Jets best interests to let this roster turn over so these guys donít see those faces from 2009 and 2010. Rex will likely be here next season. Tannenbaum might be as well. They have to lose their attachments to these guys. Rexs voice is wasted right now on these players. They can only hear the same speeches so many times. They can only see him get emotional so many times. The effort on the field today was disgusting. It was a team that quit on the year. It was September baseball for the Mets. No pride out there at all. Normally that is a fireable offense but in this case most of these guys will be gone. A new crop will listen to Ryan and he should be more removed from those players who he wont have the personal relationships with.
Rex cant be the friend to all of his guys anymore. I hope he learned that lesson this year. He wanted to be close with these guys when he got here a few years ago but these new guys need to see him as a coach not someone they can make feel bad for pulling them from the field of play. The Jets need to upgrade the talent level and start scouting how other teams are running practices. The Jets donít work hard anymore on Sunday and partially that is because they are not forced to work nearly as hard during the week and the offseason. The Jets should have seen this coming when last year crumbled but instead they picked on not having camp at a college and Rex not being close enough to players on his offense. The real problems were in the talent evaluation and the prep work Tuesday thru Friday. Those were the real problems but they turned a blind eye to it.
A nice shiny offensive coordinator is not going to fix this mess. There was a time when making that move would have helped the offense. The talent level is so poor right now that its hard to it making that kind of difference. The only part of the offense that is any good is their offensive line and two of those players are free agents. It is going to take large investments in the offense to fix it, both in free agency and in the draft. If Ryan believes that firing Tony Sparano and hiring someone else is a cure-all he is mistaken. Its part of the healing process but there is little that can be done with this collection of players while Ryan builds up his defense through the draft like he wants to.
This is a big week for the franchise as we all expect decisions to come down that signal something of a new era in Jets football. I think ownership realizes that the fanbase is going to demand a change as it has been nothing but an embarrassment for him this year, whether off the field or on the field. The problems are so blatantly obvious that it cant be hidden. If this was 20 years ago I think you could get get by keeping the power structure intact because the team was 6-10 not 3-13 and had injury excuses to explain the season away, something Ryan tried a few weeks ago when he called the losses of Holmes and Revis devastating, which was comical when you see how bad this team was. Now there are too many reporters and too many forums for fans like myself to make their voices heard and for it to get back to the Jets organization. The fans want coaches and front office staff that feel the pain of the team and the excuses from Ryan and Tannenbaum ever since they began comparing Caleb Schlauderaff to Victor Cruz donít convey that feeling. Talking about seeing progress from a team that embarrassed the fans with their offensive showings didnít convey that feeling. It makes it hard to accept them back.
At least the season is finally complete and we can move forward. I think many of us already did two weeks ago when Sanchez threw that game away in Tennessee. As always thanks for reading and hopefully those of you who normally just read during the season will stick around in the offseason. And if not I sure hope you come back to read when next season begins. On a side note If anyone thinks they would like to write for the site shoot me an email. Im thinking about expanding the content as long as its passionate and based somewhat in fact. I do have another project that I am working on that was derailed a bit by the Hurricane, but that wont take my time away from the Jets. Itís a pure salary cap site with more of an NFL focus. Any help is appreciated with that as well whether commenting about contracts lending some tech support to the site. I appreciate all the support from everyone and thanks for a great year. Have a safe and happy New Year and hope to see everyone in 2013.