Now that we have had several weeks to accept that their season is over, it's time to examine what the fuck happened to the 2014 New York Jets, one of the jokes of the NFL.
You know, that line has been used before, but it's been a really long time when you think of it. For all the ups and downs of the past fifteen or so years, the team has managed to make the playoffs a couple of times and even to the AFC championship game thrice. But it was Gary Myers in his column for the Daily News that brought up the dreaded name from the past:
That's right. Rich Kotite, the one-time Jets offensive coordinator and two-season head coach who managed to win just four games out of thirty-two.
Kotite, who became a symbol of all that was wrong with the Jets and their management approach.
Kotite, who was fired from his previous head coaching job with the Eagles for losing his last seven games when they were looking like a shoo-in to make the playoffs, only to be hired by the Jets, whose one-season coach -- some guy named Pete Carroll -- got canned because he blew his last six.
Kotite, who was hired personally by then-owner Leon Hess because Mr. Hess didn't want to wait and give Carroll a chance to develop his team. "I want results now," the old man said.
Kotite, who won three games his first season, was given a Super-Bowl QB in Neil O'Donnell in his second, who promptly got hurt after losing the first six games.
The management of the Jets was so inept that they didn't even officially announce that Kotite was fired, and Kotite said he did not really resign; despite the fact that he had a contract for a third season, the Jets announced simply that he would not be returning for the 1997 campaign.
Could the Jets be this dysfunctional again, with owner Woody Johnson? Consider:
He replaced one cap-ologist, Mike Tannenbaum, with another, John Idzik; was Idzik the best candidate? No, but he was the only one who was willing to a) keep Rex Ryan as his head coach instead of being given the chance to hire his own, and b) trade star cornerback Darelle Revis, coming off ACL surgery, because Revis had been a pain in the ass about salary pretty much every year he'd been with the team. Some candidates wanted their own coach, and other candidates were reticent about trading away the best player on the team, even if he was costly, and not a quarterback. And to do both -- keep Ryan and take away his best weapon, when healthy -- made little sense to most candidates.
So Idzik traded Revis and did turn one of the picks he got from Tampa Bay into his only worthwhile draft choice, Sheldon Richardson. Otherwise his drafts have been poor, and he's very much on the hook for his second-round selection of QB Geno Smith, who, yesterday in a dreadful first half against the mediocre Buffalo Bills, managed to do something not seen in about eight years -- throw more interceptions (3) than receptions (2). He left the game before the first half ended, with a Blutarsky-level QB rating: zero point zero. Smith has been a disaster this season, after showing promise late last year.
Idzik was a bit handcuffed his first year because there were several big contracts still on the books, including QB Mark (Butt-fumble) Sanchez, who had been Tannenbaum's first-round pick in Ryan's first season as coach. But when Sanchez got injured in a preseason game -- at a point in the game that he had no business being in, and that's on Ryan for screwing that up -- that paved the way for the Geno era to start last season. With Sanchez's contract and a few others coming off the books, Idzik was free to spend some money, yet with a pretty good free-agent class of cornerbacks out there -- including, of all guys, Revis -- Idzik brought in garbage. Other free agent choices have either been so-so (like WR Eric Decker, who has been hampered by not having Peyton Manning throwing him the football) or dreadful (like RB Chris Johnson, who seems to have lost it completely).
Rex Ryan's team is undisciplined (they make lots of penalties) and unfocused (several players got screwed up by the time-zone change when they went to San Diego and missed a team meeting the night before the game, a brutal loss to the Chargers where the Jets didn't even make it to midfield until it was garbage time). He's made some bad decisions, and he sometimes seems to prefer acting the clown that being a professional. But the Jets' problems run deeper than this.
This is about an owner who looked to sell PSLs by bringing in Brett Favre, a gamble that almost worked -- until Favre hurt his shoulder just enough to be ineffective in the last five games and cost the team a playoff spot and coach Eric Mangini his job. (Mangini was not initially on board with bringing the aging legend in, and the previous QB, the injured but otherwise steady Chad Pennington, won eleven games and the division with the Dolphins, who'd been 1-15 the year before.) This same owner brought in Tim Tebow, for no real good reason other than to sell seats and jerseys. (Tebow was hardly used during his one year here.) Eventually, Tannenbaum lost his job, though he got to be around for the butt-fumble.
It's about an owner who doesn't really have a clue.
And we're back to the Kotite years.
Which might not be so bad, if the Jets could blow the season and then get a top-tier quarterback in the first round, though none of these guys is as impressive as the group that came out two years ago.
Speaking of Kotite, his 1-15 final season did give the Jets the first pick of the draft.
That was the year Peyton Manning graduated from Tennessee. Bill Parcells was hired to be the coach and the President of football operations.
But Manning opted to take one more year of his eligibility (which he had as a red-shirted freshman) and stay at Tennessee. The Jets, needing so much help, traded the pick instead of drafting future HOF lineman Orlando Pace, who won a Super Bowl with the Rams, protecting Kurt Warner.
So even if the Jets get a good young stud quarterback, we all expect them to blow it.
Ryan is gone. He's not really meant to develop young quarterbacks. The thing you can say that Sanchez and Smith have in common is bad decision-making. They throw bad picks, including in the red zone. Ryan needs a steadier hand, a veteran who's not too old, someone like Brad Johnson when he managed the Bucs to a Super Bowl in 2002. Idzik needs to go back to his actuarial tables. But what of the owner?
Indeed. What of him.
If he fires Idzik, he'll be looking for his fifth GM and and fifth head coach since getting the team just at the dawn of the century. The New York Giants have only had three GMs since 1979. They have been to five Super Bowls, winning four.
The math on this is simple.