Jets got a good man in John Idzik
It took nearly three weeks and what seemed like an endless series of interviews with just about every candidate imaginable. But it looks as if the Jets made the right call with general manager John Idzik.
By the time they finally found their man, eight teams already had filled head-coaching vacancies and five teams had hired GMs. The Jets were the last to make a move. But in arguably their most important football decision since the hiring of Rex Ryan as coach in 2009, the Jets got the GM they needed.
No, he's not a big-name football executive. In fact, he's hardly recognizable; as the Seahawks' No. 2 executive behind GM John Schneider, Idzik was responsible for managing the team's salary cap and also was involved in personnel evaluations and scouting assignments.
So it's a unique resume that lends itself to exactly what the Jets need to replace Mike Tannenbaum. The Jets have plenty of salary-cap issues and need a firm hand in personnel matters that only an experienced and savvy executive can offer.
Looks as if Idzik is the man to tackle both assignments.
The resume is a good one. Idzik was with the Seahawks since 2007; before that, as senior director of football operations, he helped the Cardinals develop into Super Bowl contenders.
Before that, former Dartmouth wide receiver Idzik was a graduate assistant coach at Duke, concentrating on the offensive line and running backs.
So there's plenty of football experience there.
And there's also this: He's the son of a coach. Idzik's father, John, was an NFL assistant for the Dolphins, Colts, Eagles and Jets. He was the Jets' offensive coordinator from 1977-79 under Walt Michaels.
"John has seen firsthand what's necessary to construct a winning team and has worked with some of the most innovative and successful coaches in the NFL, including Pete Carroll, Tony Dungy, Dennis Green, Jon Gruden and Mike Holmgren," Jets owner Woody Johnson said.
Idzik clearly is OK with the idea of inheriting Ryan, because it was a stipulation of the job coming into the interview process. But as we've seen in the past, GMs who inherit coaches don't always keep them.
Ted Thompson in Green Bay, Mike Holmgren in Cleveland and Phil Emery in Chicago parted company with their head coaches after one season in their posts as the lead football executive. It remains to be seen whether the Idzik-Ryan relationship will last longer.
Equally pressing are roster issues, including a bloated salary cap. Look for the Jets to shed upward of $30 million in cap space by releasing offensive tackle Jason Smith, linebackers Bart Scott and Calvin Pace, and safety Eric Smith.
Quarterback will be a focus; the Jets must find an alternative to Mark Sanchez, even if he remains because of his guaranteed $8.25-million salary. Running back Shonn Greene, an unrestricted free agent, isn't worthy of a huge contract. There is a need for receiver depth. Tight end Dustin Keller's contract is up. The defense must get younger at linebacker and safety.
The problems are many and the solutions will require a steady hand, especially when it comes to personnel. Idzik must be willing to make the tough decisions, especially on draft day, and especially if Ryan is pushing for players who might not be the correct choices.
Tannenbaum too often let Ryan have his say in the draft, frequently to the detriment of the roster. So Idzik needs to set the parameters early, siding with the personnel people who spend their lives studying college players, not the coaches who look at college players for a few weeks leading up to the draft.
It won't be an easy process, but it looks as if Johnson came away with the right choice.
It had better be. The future of his franchise depends on it.