Rex Ryan's Future and the Jets
When he first took over as owner, Johnson left the decisions to the football people: Bill Parcells and Terry Bradway. Eventually, his desire to have “stars” trumped what made sense when he stuck a coach, Eric Mangini, who wanted a series of no-names doing what they were told with a freewheeling star quarterback, Brett Favre. For his part, Favre wound up with the Jets because he pulled one of “I’m retiring/I’m not retiring” tricks and the Packers finally had enough and told him to take a hike, trading him to the Jets. He had no choice in the matter.
Since then, it’s been a string of attention grabs disguised as football management, mostly coming with the encouragement of the owner. After years of being somewhat organized and moderately successful, the Jets were always looking for the next thing to fill the owner’s desire to garner headlines and show off his new purchases to his rich friends.
There’s a misplaced belief that the Jets have been a laughingstock for their entire existence. Compared with their stadium and city-mate Giants, they’re guaranteed to look worse. The Giants are organized, have a chain-of-command and don’t make decisions intent on drawing attention to themselves. The Giants’ four Super Bowl wins in the past 25 years vs. the Jets’ one in their entire history over forty years ago leaves the Jets feeling inferior because they've been inferior. Rather than emulate what’s been successful in the league as they did when they hired Eric Mangini away from the Patriots and tried to copy the Bill Belichick model in both management and personality, or by doing what the Giants do, the Jets have taken the tone of their owner in haphazardness.
Johnson’s decision-making as a football owner is indicative of the life he’s led. He’s an entitled rich kid and socialite who has accomplished essentially nothing apart from being born with unimaginable wealth. He wants his toys and he wants to be in the public spotlight. His minions fight for his attention and favor. That favor is capricious and based on nothing other than what fleeting criteria are holding sway in the moment.
When the Jets fired GM Mike Tannenbaum and replaced him with John Idzik, they hired a business side football guy who was found with help from an executive head-hunting firm. This continued their split-the-baby, “let’s toss everything into a pot and see if it works” strategies they’d used since the Favre acquisition. When hiring a new GM, the common sense decision is to let the new GM hire the coach. Ryan had two years remaining on his contract when Idzik was brought onboard, but there was a clear changing of the guard in who had the owner’s ear. Ryan was once the outspoken power behind the scenes. The owner enjoyed his company as if he was hanging out with the big, cool, loud football guy. Once the team struggled to 8-8 in 2011 and 6-10 in 2012, Ryan’s blustery pronouncements of his team’s greatness and what heights they would achieve lost their luster. Tannenbaum paid for it with his job as if he was to blame for the Tim Tebow and Tony Sparano twin-fiascos; for Ryan’s canyon-sized mouth. In truth, if anyone was responsible for the 2011-2012 Jets, it was Ryan and Johnson.