Seattle GM says John Idzik is right man for Jets
If Jets owner Woody Johnson wants the opinion of the front-office architect of the defending Super Bowl champion on whether he should keep John Idzik as his general manager, here it is:
"I think [Idzik] should be able to hire his own coach and see how it goes," John Schneider, the Seahawks' fifth-year general manager, told Newsday on Thursday. "He's steady, he's strong-minded, he's not a roller-coaster-ride guy. It's too bad there aren't more people like that, because you need core people in your building, and you need to have a consistent culture that you're building, instead of flipping cultures all the time."
As the Jets' 3-11 season careens toward an end with Sunday's home game against the Patriots and next week's finale in Miami, Johnson is weighing his next moves, and Idzik's fate might be his most important decision. With Rex Ryan expected to be out, Johnson must decide whether to retain Idzik and let him hire a coach, or to start from scratch with a new GM and coach.
Many fans attending Sunday's game are expected to let Johnson know their opinion by waving yellow flags calling for Idzik's ouster.
There have been two flyovers at Jets practices -- including one on Wednesday -- with a small plane carrying a banner demanding that Idzik be fired. Billboards near MetLife Stadium have called for the same thing.
But Schneider, one of the NFL's smartest front-office executives and a man who worked alongside Idzik from 2010-12, believes firing him after only two years is too soon.
Idzik was Seattle's salary-cap expert, but he also handled some personnel duties, and Schneider is convinced that he has the tools to be a successful GM.
"I think you need time to be able to establish a whole culture," said Schneider, a disciple of former Packers GM Ron Wolf. "Some GMs go in and just clean everything out, but John didn't do that. If it doesn't work, then you should be able to get your shot at bringing in your own people and hiring your own coach."
Schneider pointed to his experience in Seattle as proof that building a strong team takes time. The Seahawks had back-to-back losing seasons in 2010-11, though their 7-9 record was good enough to win the division in 2011. Seattle turned things around in 2012, going 11-5, and won last season's Super Bowl after a 13-3 regular season.
"We had to put together a couple of good drafts, tried to be smart in free agency, had to make some tough decisions with veteran players that were here," he said. "We just kept churning and kept competing."
Schneider and coach Pete Carroll hit it big with third-round pick Russell Wilson in 2012. Idzik went a similar route with Geno Smith in the second round last year, but he has been a disappointment. The Jets likely will be looking for another quarterback, as well as a coach, in 2015.
Schneider believes they don't need another general manager.
"I feel like [Idzik] is going to do the right thing," he said. "It might not be sexy, it might not be overnight instant change, but I feel like you have to be able to build something. You have to have a strong core of people. You can see that happening [in Seattle] now . . . But it took a couple of years to get there."
It was an awkward arrangement for Idzik to inherit Ryan when he took the job, and Idzik didn't help himself with decisions that left the Jets weak in the secondary. But Schneider believes he can turn things around.
"I totally respect John for doing it the way he did ," Schneider said. "We didn't have to accept a coaching staff [in Seattle], but Pete and I didn't know each other very well. So there's a learning curve there, a feeling-out process . . . [Idzik] came in, tried to make it work, and if it doesn't work, then you should hire your own people."
"I think John wanted to do that. But now he should be able to hire his own coach and see how it goes."
Strong convictions from a general manager who knows how to build a championship team and who knows Idzik. Now it's up to Johnson to decide if he'll give his GM more time or start all over again with someone else.