While New York Jets coach Rex Ryan and quarterback Mark Sanchez take media hit after media hit for the team's 3-5 start this season, general manager Mike Tannenbaum—the man at the root of the problems—rarely sees a finger pointed his way.
That needs to change.
The man buying the groceries for this feast simply isn't getting the job done.
Of course, few will argue that Sanchez is a great piece to build around, or that Ryan isn't a boisterous character who is sometimes more bark than bite. But what was once a supporting cast willing and able to erase the follies of Sanchez and Ryan has been completely decimated by Tannenbaum.
The problems start on offense.
Just check out some of the names Sanchez was throwing the football to during the Jets' 30-9 loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 8:
- Clyde Gates (six catches, 82 yards): Drafted in 2011, cut by the oh-so-receiver-rich Dolphins before this season.
- Chaz Schillens (four catches, 29 yards): Seventh-round pick in 2008, let go by the Oakland Raiders.
- Konrad Reuland (one target): Undrafted free agent out of Stanford. Four career catches.
- Jeremy Kerley (five catches, 43 yards): Fifth-round pick in 2011 out of TCU.
In this age of professional football, that group of receiving targets is downright laughable. Aaron Rodgers would likely struggle throwing to this cast. 2012 second-rounder Stephen Hill looks like he has some potential, but he's been hurt and is still raw overall. Outside of Hill, Tannenbaum has done little to make the group competitive.
What about the Jets offensive line?
D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold are clearly starting caliber linemen. Both have been to Pro Bowls. Yet the rest, including the right tackle position, are mostly below what you'd expect from an NFL offensive line.
Who is more to blame for the Jets struggles in 2012?
Austin Howard has been predictably poor, but there wasn't one football person who said the Jets were going to be strong on the right side of the offensive line this season. Again, Tannebaum's personnel failures are to blame.
Throw in that the Jets have been mostly unable to run the football with Shonn Greene, Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight (16th in the NFL in rushing, 109.8 yards per game), and you get a recipe for disaster at the quarterback position.
The end result of little talent in the receiving corps, a turnstile offensive line and shaky run game is exactly what Sanchez has been: a mostly below-average NFL quarterback.
Ryan's defense hasn't been helped much either.
Aging at several positions, Tannenbaum has been iffy at best when it comes to drafting defensive players.
Quinton Coples (2012 first-round pick) hasn't been an impact player, yet. 2010 first-round selection, Kyle Wilson, has been up and down in place of the injured Darrelle Revis and Vernon Gholston (2008 first-round pick) doesn't even play in New York.
Muhammed Wilkerson (2011 first-round) was a hit, but where are the complementary pieces?
Stalwarts of the early Ryan defenses, such as Bart Scott, Kris Jenkins, Shaun Ellis, Calvin Pace and Kerry Rhodes, are either gone or past their prime. Tannenbuam put together those defenses, but he hasn't put in place the pieces to replace them.
Again, the result has been a poor one for New York. The Jets are 25th in scoring defense (25.0 points per game) and have just 12 sacks, despite the fact that two first-rounders occupy spots on the defensive line.
There's only so much Ryan's exotic schemes and defensive play-calling can do to mask personnel deficiencies.
Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan are not without blame for the Jets' recent struggles. Both have obvious flaws that hurt this football team.
But the problems with the Jets don't start and certainly don't end with the two. Tannenbaum, given all his personnel mistakes over the last three to four years, is more to blame for this mess.
Any finger pointing in New York should start with the general manager, not the quarterback or coach.