FLORHAM PARK, N.J.
Jets owner Woody Johnson delivered an impromptu state of the team address Thursday, touching on a number of subjects surrounding his 3-6 team. But one topic he declined to discuss was the job security of Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum.
"I never make any statements midseason about players or coaches or anything like that," Johnson said when asked if the coach and general manager will be back next season.
Johnson is wise to withhold comment on the subject. After all, he has some big decisions to make about both men and whether they'll be retained.
There is nothing as of now that leads me to believe that Johnson will oust Ryan, who likely has built up sufficient capital from two AFC Championship Game runs in his first two years. But after a late-season meltdown last season in which the Jets went from 8-5 to 8-8 and failed to make the playoffs, and a 3-6 record this year that has been accompanied by a heavy dose of negative headlines, Ryan's tenure might not be as secure as it once appeared.
Ryan's performance in these next seven games could be crucial. If the Jets can finish somewhere near .500 with an admittedly depleted roster, Johnson most likely will retain him, possibly putting him on notice going into next season. But if the Jets finish 4-12, Johnson might have to re-evaluate whether Ryan is the right man for his team's long-term future.
I still believe Ryan is a quality football man and that his players remain fiercely loyal to him. But if the losses continue to pile up and there is genuine infighting in the remaining weeks, it could be time for a change.
Tannenbaum's future would appear less certain, mostly because the talent base has been severely eroded in recent years. Cut through all the negative headlines, especially the ones this week centering on Tim Tebow's standing with the team and comments from Shonn Greene that he insists were misinterpreted, and the undeniable truth about this team is that the talent base simply isn't good enough to compete for a playoff spot.
The Jets are 3-6 not because of internal strife -- in fact, the locker room is a much calmer place than the view from outside the team would indicate -- but because they simply don't have enough good players to keep up with the NFL's upper-echelon teams.
The injuries to star cornerback Darrelle Revis and No. 1 receiver Santonio Holmes shouldn't be minimized, but playoff-caliber teams are able to overcome key injuries when the development of backup players and other starters is sufficient. Right now, that cannot be said of this roster.
Mark Sanchez has regressed since showing such promise through his first two-plus seasons. In his last 12 games, Sanchez has a 3-9 record, throwing 15 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions. But it's not all his fault. Just look at what's going on around him.
Tebow has been little more than a $2.1-million hood ornament with the Wildcat offense. There is nothing to stop us from believing that Tebow's acquisition was doomed from the start.
That's enough for now, but you get the idea. The caliber of this roster is simply not the same as what the Jets had in 2009-10. It's the biggest factor in their worst start since 2007.
Tannenbaum knows there are roster issues that need fixing, but it's uncertain whether Johnson will allow him to continue a rebuilding process that so far has been lacking.