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Jets fire GM Mike Tannenbaum; players rally around Rex Ryan

Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum is seen before a

Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum is seen before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Photo Credit: Getty Images, 2010

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Mike Tannenbaum was the first to go at 1 Jets Drive, but coach Rex Ryan will be back for at least another year.

After 16 seasons in the organization, Jets general manager Tannenbaum was fired Monday morning with two years left on his contract.

Owner Woody Johnson made the announcement in a statement, thanking Tannenbaum for his "hard work and dedication" and building teams that went to the AFC Championship Game in back-to-back seasons, but ultimately "we are not where we want to be, and a new general manager will be critical to getting this team back on the right track."

No decision was announced about offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, who took a lot of heat for the team's lackluster offense and his inability to use Tim Tebow effectively.

In the statement, Johnson confirmed Ryan will stay on.

"I believe that he has the passion, the talent and the drive to successfully lead our team," Johnson said of the fourth-year coach, who has two years and $6 million left on his contract.

Ryan, whose scheduled news conference was canceled, did not speak to the media. A team spokesman said it was an "organizational decision."

Tannenbaum thanked Johnson for helping him fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a GM.

"I feel very fortunate to have been the general manager who drafted cornerstone players during a period that yielded four playoff victories and 22 Pro Bowl appearances," Tannenbaum said in a statement. "There are champions on this team that haven't been crowned yet."

I am confident that the base we've established will allow the New York Jets to continue a winning tradition for years to come and I wish everyone in the organization the best of luck."

An emotional Tannenbaum addressed the team in Monday morning, expressing his gratitude and support to the players he helped sign during his seven years as GM.

"He basically just let us know how proud he was and to take advantage of your opportunity when you get it," backup tight end Jeff Cumberland said.

Johnson, who did not attend Sunday's 28-9 loss in Buffalo, was at the Jets' practice facility Monday but did not meet with the media. Instead, players were left to field questions about their uncertain futures and those of their coaches.

Soon-to-be free agent Mike DeVito took the Tannenbaum firing to heart.

"It's tough because Mike took a chance on me," said DeVito, who signed as an undrafted free agent in 2007. "He gave me my first shot in the NFL. And that's allowed me to provide for my family and to have a great life and to be very blessed. So it's always tough to see something like that. But I know somebody like Mike -- with his background and the type of person he is -- I know he'll land on his feet."

The defensive lineman said he had no doubt that Ryan would remain at the helm.

"I always had a feeling Rex would be back, just because of the type of coach he is, the way the guys in this locker room respect him," DeVito said.

"People want to rally behind him. He's a great leader, he's a guy you love and a guy you want to go out there and play for. And that's what you need in a head coach."

The Jets (6-10) suffered their first losing season under Ryan and missed the playoffs for the second straight season.

Injured cornerback Darrelle Revis asserted that Ryan is "the right coach for this team." And others agreed.

"I definitely support him 110 percent. Most definitely," said pending free-agent safety LaRon Landry, who was selected to his first Pro Bowl. "He's the whole reason I came here, he's definitely a key point in coming back."

Even embattled quarterback Mark Sanchez, who was benched by Ryan after Week 15, is glad his coach will return. "We've had a lot of wins together and there's more to come," Sanchez said. "I'm confident that Rex can take us where we need to go."

League sources confirmed that the Jets have asked permission to interview Giants director of college scouting Marc Ross and 49ers director of player personnel Tom Gamble.

"Like all Jets fans, I am disappointed with this year's results," Johnson said in his statement. "However, I am confident that this change will best position our team for greater success going forward."

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