Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum is not the one who has completed less than 50 percent of his passes in three consecutive games.
He's not the one who has averaged just 3.2 yards per carry on the ground.
But he's the one who has put the pieces in place that have led to the downward spiral of the Jets offense, a downward spiral that culminated in an epic collapse against the 49ers.
A roster as talent deficient as the Jets should not go unpunished. Mike Tannenbaum needs to go, and here's why.
Lacking Talent on Offense
The offense had its shining moment against the Buffalo Bills in Week 1, and it's been all downhill from there. Making a change at quarterback may seem like the right thing to do, but the change there would be cosmetic at best.
We live in an era where the quarterback is expected to make those around him better, not the other way around.
This is not a new subject. Tannenbaum has been under moderate criticism for years, but that criticism has ramped up considerably in the 10 months since the Jets collapsed to end their season and reached an apex with cornerback Darrelle Revis sharing his thoughts back in August (via Newsday).
The Jets are exposed for a lack of vision and foresight week after week.
- The problem: Wayne Hunter's struggles at right tackle. Contingency plan: Undrafted free agent Austin Howard is the new starter.
- The problem: Dustin Keller is out for three straight games. Contingency plan: Jeff Cumberland, Dedrick Epps and Konrad Reuland get extended playing time at tight end.
- The problem: Shonn Greene is not the feature back the Jets thought he could be. Contingency plan: Former college cornerback Bilal Powell begins stealing carries, averages a full yard per carry more than Greene, yet isn't cracking four yards per carry this season.
And this goes back well beyond this year.
Just take a look at the list of replacements the Jets have moved into larger roles after the departure of their key players. They've never been prepared to deal with roster turnover because they've lacked depth at all those positions and have poorly-evaluated talent.
Eight of the Jets' 13 draft picks from 2009 thru 2011 were running backs, quarterbacks or wide receivers. Of those eight players, only three (Mark Sanchez, Shonn Greene and Jeremy Kerley) play a significant role in the offense. Of those three, only one (Kerley) should feel good about his job security beyond 2012.
And now that Santonio Holmes is down, it looks like the contingency plan includes a combination of Kerley, Chaz Schilens and Stephen Hill, who is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury—and if he's not healthy, the contingency plan then includes former Dolphins wide receiver Clyde Gates, who has caught three passes in his NFL career.
Judging by the past, though, they won't look anywhere.
Lacking Talent on Defense
Just forget about making Darrelle Revis' injury the focal point or the built-in excuse of this season. Revis wouldn't help the Jets defend the run, where the Jets currently rank 31st overall and give up the third-highest per-carry average in the league at 4.9 yards a pop.
The Jets were a good defense with largely the same group just a few years back.
But the defense got older and is now getting pushed around like we've never seen.
The 49ers were not shy about running right into the teeth of the Jets defense, right from the beginning of the game.
They faced an early 2nd-and-5 and came out in the 21 personnel package (two backs, one tight end, two receivers) against the Jets base 4-3 defense.
Linebacker David Harris wisely attacked the C-gap outside the right tackle, forcing running back Frank Gore back inside, where defensive tackles Sione Pouha and Kenrick Ellis both had a chance to bring him down at the line of scrimmage. Neither one could deliver, but Pouha was able to spin away from his blocker to bring Gore down with a shoestring tackle, and Gore moved the sticks.
That's just one example, and of course, the big runs by Mario Manningham and Colin Kaepernick looked worse on the stat sheet, but the 49ers' ability to run all over the Jets was not based on trickery. They pretty much just lined up and dominated the Jets at the line of scrimmage.
It's hard for me to get too down on the Jets for their problems on defense—at least, on that side of the ball, they've tried to fix the problem by adding safeties Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry, defensive linemen Quinton Coples and linebacker Demario Davis.
That talent, added to Pouha, Ellis, Harris and linebackers Bart Scott and Aaron Maybin, had me thinking the defense could finish in the top five. That seems like a pipe dream after the way they were beat up by the 49ers.
The fact is, the Jets defense could very well have been a solid unit, but even with Revis in the lineup, we would have never known just how good they could be if the offense continued to struggle as badly as it did.
Will Tannenbaum Get Canned?
In the past, Jets owner Woody Johnson has avoided talking publicly about the status of Mike Tannenbaum's job, but how long can it go on before the outside noise becomes too much to ignore and before the silence from the Jets upper management becomes deafening in itself?
An unnamed GM told Pro Football Weekly the following about Tannenbaum's status:
I don’t think (Tannenbaum) is in any danger. He has a good rapport with the owner. He hired a strong staff and is a good listener. When you lose a (Darrelle) Revis, it’s not easy to overcome. You can’t replace guys like that. (Tannenbaum) has had some big misses in the draft, but overall, he’s done a very good job. I think Woody will cut him some slack.
Making a change at general manager at this stage of the season won't do anything to turn things around—the 2008 0-16 Detroit Lions proved that when they fired Matt Millen before the season even began—but by staying idle, the Jets would be blissfully ignoring a long list of bad decisions, writing them off as extenuating circumstances of a problem completely unrelated and, conveniently, completely out of anyone's control.
It's clear, though, that after weeks of not doing anything on offense, the problem will only get fixed when the Jets build their roster accordingly.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand.
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