Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

31 Dec 2012

Jets Fire Mike Tannenbaum, not Rex Ryan

It will be interesting to see who the Jets can get as general manager who a) won't be able to pick his own coach and b) will have to deal with a meddling owner who many people think dictated the Tim Tebow trade. However, put me in the category of people who think Rex Ryan can succeed as an NFL head coach. He already has, hasn't he? Two AFC Championship games counts as "success." He just needs someone to handle the offensive side. But he seems to have the motivational thing pretty down pat.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 31 Dec 2012

23 comments, Last at 03 Jan 2013, 10:49am by Dean


by Cro-Mags :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 11:08am

How much is Woody Johnson to blame for pursuing PR generating signings like Favre and Tebow? I don't think Manigini ever wanted Favre. It doesn't seem like there was much of an effort/desire to integrate Tebow. Then the fallout from pursuing Manning this off season.

Despite it all, there is still a core of decent players from Mangini & Tannenbaum's time there.

A few key injuries really exposed their lack of depth this year though.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 11:26am

Well Ted Thompson started that way. He was brought on in 2005 and Sherman was kept as coach. Sherman was then replaced by McCarthy in 2006. So Ryan might only be there one more year and the Jets might be happy about it. Who knows. As for success, Sherman won 3 division titles in a row as the Packers head coach and had a 53-27 record before his final 4-12 season. Though 2-4 in the playoffs is not the same as Ryan's playoffs record.

So it's not unprecedented to remove the GM and keep the coach. Of course Sherman was the GM who was removed, but kept as the coach so that was an extra oddity, I still can't imagine how all that would have looked if Green Bay got the press coverage the Jets get.

by RickD :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:01pm

If Woody Johnson is to blame for the Tebow signing, then he needs to do what Dan Snyder has done: hire a strong GM and back off.
It was clear this season that the Jets were sorely lacking in personnel. When Revis went down, the defense was exposed as ordinary. And any hope that the Jets had of Sanchez developing into a top-tier QB went away when they brought in Tebow to serve as a backup ready to take his job away.

The Jets are making the right move (IMO) of keeping Rex. Rex has shown that he can win. Let's put it this way: if Rex Ryan had RGIII instead of Mike Shanahan, is there any doubt that he'd be winning more games?

by Hurt Bones :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:54pm

I'll agree but I don't know how much Woody can back off. A strong GM is definitely the answer. Rex does a very good job with the personnel he's got and players generally love playing for him.

by Sean McCormick :: Tue, 01/01/2013 - 11:30am

Provided the personnel plays defense.

by mehlLageman56 (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 1:28pm

I don't know if I would describe the Jets defense as ordinary. The talent might be (I don't agree with that, but I can understand it), but they're probably ranked in the top ten in DVOA. If Rex Ryan had RGII, we'd be asking how much of a threat they are to the Broncos and Pats.

by Tim Wilson :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:30pm

Not a very attractive cap situation for a new GM there either...the team has massive personnel issues and a lot of guaranteed money already committed in 2013. Gonna need to find some bargain-basement solutions in the short term.

by mehlLageman56 (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 1:30pm

What any GM they hire needs to do is trade down in the draft, and accumulate more picks. That's how you fix cap problems like this. Let's see if Woody and Rex let the GM do it.

by jsa (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 1:42pm

Agree. I think Tannenbaum deserved to get fired more for the situation he set up in 2013 and future than he did for the team's performance the past two years. Overall his tenure as Jets GM was pretty good, but bad contracts he gave out, especially Sanchez's, have them in a poor situation for the future.

by MaineMan (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2013 - 9:58am

O Tannenbaum.

It's amazing to me that, aside from players' agents (especially those repping Sanchez and Holmes), nobody figured out that "Tannenbaum" is German for "Christmas Tree" more or less. He certainly provided a lot of gifts.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 1:02pm

Ryan has succeeded as a head coach already, I'll grant that. But we all know there comes a point when a coach no longer can succeed with a particular team because his mojo just doesn't work in that setting any more. And I'd be stunned if that doesn't turn out to be the case with the Jets. Rex went all in with Sanchez, to the point of looking completely ridiculous. If that was tough on the fans, imagine how the players must have felt about it. Hard to believe the seed hasn't been planted in their minds that if he could be so wrong about that, the next thing he tries to sell them could be equally as wrong.

by dryheat :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 1:29pm

Yeah, I'm in this camp. No doubt Ryan can coach, and I expect he'll learn from his mistakes and be a better HC in the future.

However, there's only so much braggadocio, followed up by continually diminishing returns, before players start tuning out, if not outright mocking the coach. I think he hurt some of his credibility within the locker room with some of his decisions. His devotion to guys like Bart Scott, who were once good players for him but are now close to useless, as well as misguided trust in guys like Sanchez and McKnight, solely because of previous investment, blinds him to what is best for his football team, and I think the veterans realize that too.

I see a lot of similarities between Ryan and Pete Carroll's tenure in Foxboro. There was a culture change, and a fun and quotable "players' coach" was installed to give the team a short-term bounce after a dictatorial coach, yet the team gradually gets worse each year.

Like Carroll, and Belichick for that matter, Ryan needs a fresh start somewhere away from the media circus that is the New York Jets.

by mehlLageman56 (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 1:41pm

I don't think Ryan has any trust in McKnight, which is why he never plays on offense. I'm not sure I agree with your comparison of Ryan and Carroll. The Patriots didn't experience any short term bounce during Carroll's tenure; they went from Super Bowl to losing in the divisional round to not making the playoffs at all. At least the Jets improved the first two years under Ryan.
The real question is whether anyone can succeed as the Jets coach; they're second banana to the Giants, whom the media have favored over the years, and whoever coaches them is dropped into a piranha tank of reporters unlike any other situation in the NFL. Maybe once all print media dies off in thirty years they'll win a Super Bowl.

by dryheat :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 1:53pm

I don't disagree with your second paragraph. Regarding the 1st:

1. I didn't mean "bounce" to mean a better record, just a better team attitude. Carroll took over a team that Parcells had beat up on and eased way off the reins. I remember one particular quote by Bledsoe that is was fun to be playing football again, not working football. Carroll's teams declined by one game in his three seasons, The Jets have gone from 11 wins, to 8, to 6 the last three years. They improved only one year, record-wise, under Ryan, from 9 to 11 wins in his first two years.

2. It's been pretty well documented that Ryan preferred Woodhead to McKnight for that role, but kept the 3rd round pick over the undrafted free agent. Likewise, there was never an attempt to improve over Sanchez, because of the huge cost in acquiring him.

by mehlLageman56 (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 2:26pm

Ok, I understand point 1. As far as point 2, you are correct that Ryan preferred Woodhead to McKnight as a back up running back. I'm not sure if Tannenbaum forced him to keep McKnight or not. But after that, McKnight has only played on special teams, barely getting the ball on offense. And Westoff controls the special teams, not Ryan. I think that Ryan does play favorites, but he also cares too much about his defense to let it go too far on defense. He let Jim Leonhard go to Denver, even though Leonhard was one of his guys. The real problem is that he is clueless on offense.

by jackiel :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 1:59pm

Ryan's main flaw as a coach is that he doesn't know how to evaluate offensive talent and coaching. If he could, he wouldn't have allowed Sanchez's development to get so off track while surrounding him with so few impact players at the skill positions. He wouldn't have signed off on letting guys like Cotchery and Edwards go while bringing in D. Mason and Plax, who were long past their primes (Edwards was the WR on the team by the end of 2012). He wouldn't have committed to ground and pound in 2012 with a pedestrian Greene as his featured back. Finally, he wouldn't have hired a guy as OC in 2012 who has never called plays in his life and who's claim to fame is bringing the Wildcat to the NFL (not exactly the best candidate to help Sanchez improve).

If they can find a GM who knows offense, then the Jets will be fine.

by mehlLageman56 (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 2:29pm

I agree with this almost completely. One thing: Cotchery wanted to leave, and the Jets let him leave. They didn't want him to go, and Ryan didn't want him to go.

by Dennis :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 8:12pm

There was also the cost issue - they couldn't afford both Edwards and Holmes. For better or worse, they chose to keep Holmes.

by Blackamallow (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2013 - 10:10am

One other thing.

It never gets mentioned, but how important in coaching to a young qb? At one point, Sanchez was the franchise quarterback and look what he has become? Did they play with his mechanics to make him a better accurate quarterback which "broke" him. I sure would prefer Sanchez year one than Sanchez this year, warts and all.

by jackiel :: Tue, 01/01/2013 - 12:46pm

I think it's a confluence of factors. Schotty and the qb coach have never really focused on catering the passing offense to things that Sanchez can do well (routes where he has a clear line of sight and 1-2 passing options like rollouts) and instead tried to let him loose like he's the second coming of Brady - without the wr/Te talent to make it happen. It still looks like the game is too fast for him sometimes, which is partly coaching. It's also no coincidence that his production has declined alongside the running game, pass protection, and wr depth. Hiring Sparano was a huge mistake if you're trying to turn Sanchez into even an average qb. I mean, did the front office watch those Miami offenses? Why would anyone want to import that if they're trying to compete with NE for a division title? An average wouldve put them in the running for 9+ wins this year.

What we saw in 2012 was a qb with passing options that couldn't get open who then decided to throw balls up for grabs and see if his guy could make a play. This is not good when the qb already has accuracy problems. The line's problems in pass protection gave him happy feet which also caused him to make poor throws on easy routes. In short, Sanchez is a mental mess right now. I doubt that he gets over his issues in NYC unless the entire offensive philosophy and roster is retooled. Tough to do in a year.

by DGL :: Wed, 01/02/2013 - 3:37pm

The fundamental problem the Jets have is that you can't fire the owner.

by Hurt Bones :: Wed, 01/02/2013 - 3:52pm

Are you using the template?

The {PROBLEM_DESC} with the {PERPETUALLY_MORIBUND_NFL_FRANCHISE} is that you can't fire the owner.

It's quite popular.

by Dean :: Thu, 01/03/2013 - 10:49am

It might be poorly phrased, but there are easily 5-10 cases where it's also true.