Jets analysis: New GM John Idzik has plenty of supporters; one calls it a 'great hire'
PROVIDENCE -- Those rushing to run John Idzik out of town may want to reconsider.
Only time will tell how the Jets' new -- and first-time -- general manager will fare in his latest endeavor. But he's been on the job only two days, so the time to critique certainly is not now.
The final year of the Mike Tannenbaum Era left Jets fans bitter and in desperate need of assurances that the team's future will be far brighter than this past 6-10 season. And Friday, owner Woody Johnson answered those questions with Idzik, a Seattle executive whose football knowledge is rooted in his gridiron pedigree and his 20 years of NFL experience.
Those who choose to label him as just a "numbers guy" -- the biggest criticism of Tannenbaum -- are misguided, one NFL agent said.
"It is a disservice, because it doesn't sum up all the attributes John's bringing to the table," he wrote in an email to Newsday Saturday. "John's resume speaks for itself. He has a strong understanding of the CBA / salary cap while also understanding the game of football and the personnel needed to win games for a particular system [offense and defense].
"He grew up the son of a coach, he played the game, he coached the game, all before crossing over to the personnel and admin side of the business. Not to mention his academic accomplishments. Great hire, in my opinion."
Those sentiments were echoed by others who called the former Seahawks vice president of football administration a great guy, extremely intelligent and a "very good fit" for the Jets.
A former Tampa Bay player who had his contract drawn up by Idzik more than 10 years ago said the Jets' new GM understands "it's about finding the right type of people rather than just seeing who's out there.
"That's what really killed the [Jets'] organization. Some of those signings just didn't make sense," he said, drawing comparisons between what he termed shortsighted signings of aging veterans (i.e., Jason Taylor and Kris Jenkins, among others) by the Jets and the Seahawks' long-range vision in hiring former college coach Pete Carroll.
Idzik isn't as well-known as some of the other candidates the Jets interviewed during the past two weeks. In all, there were 10 -- ranging from personnel guys to strictly cap gurus. But the Jets seem to have found a new GM who strikes a balance between both worlds.
Though Idzik's personnel experience was characterized as "limited" by one NFL executive, another league source said he is an "excellent personnel man."
During his six-year tenure with the Seahawks, Idzik oversaw player negotiations and salary-cap situations and was involved in personnel evaluations and scouting assignments. Before that, he spent three seasons as the Arizona Cardinals' senior director of football operations and another 11 years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was part of the 2002 Bucs' Super Bowl championship team.
Said Tony Dungy, who coached the Bucs from 1996-2001: "John Idzik was a big part of our success in Tampa and I believe he'll do a great job in New York. He is extremely bright and he knows talent. He's been around football all his life and he understands what it takes to win in the NFL. From a coach's perspective, he was great to work with because he was so knowledgable but was also a good listener. John is a high-quality person and the Jets are very fortunate to have him."
Idzik's experience will come in handy, considering his toughest challenges to date will be shaping a Jets roster on a significant budget and determining the future of beleaguered quarterback Mark Sanchez.
But those within the Seahawks' organization seem to think Idzik will fare just fine in Florham Park. Seattle GM John Schneider called him a "well-respected, lifelong football man" who will be "a strong addition" to Johnson's team.
Seahawks safety Chris Maragos sent his best wishes to Idzik, via Twitter, shortly after the Jets announced the hiring: "Congrats to John Idzik on the move to Jets. Great football mind and even better person."
The apprehension of Jets fans is warranted after two straight disappointing seasons and a 2012 campaign that introduced the term "butt fumble" into football lexicon. But there will be plenty of time to question and critique the Jets should Idzik fail in his first year or two at the helm. For now, though, the Jets have promised a renewed focus to winning and a better product in 2013.
And that's something Jets fans can -- at least for now -- get excited about.