There was always a question as to how much say Rex had in personnel decisions as opposed to Tannenbaum. In firing one and not the other, Johnson gave his answer: He feels that Tannenbaum was more responsible for the shortcomings of the 2012 Jets than Rex was.
Heck, Tannenbaum may even be more responsible for the potential shortcomings of the 2013 Jets as well, even though he will no longer be with the team.
Poor drafts were a major part of the problem, but coupled with the team's inability to evaluate their own talent, the roster was quickly crippled from the unit that went to two consecutive AFC Championship Games in 2009 and 2010 to the group that makes up the roster today.
For years, the Jets got by on their ability to maneuver contracts to work perfectly within the confines of the salary cap, but the next general manager is inheriting a mess of a cap situation with a lot of money allocated to players who serve little value and may not even be on the roster in 2013.
The players are on board with the decision:
Regardless of who is to blame for the shortcomings of the 2012 Jets, the relationship between a new general manager and a carry-over head coach can be tricky.
On one hand, the Jets could find a general manager who knows and believes in Rex, but who knows if there's a GM on the market who fits the bill? And who knows if he's truly the best candidate for the job?
On the other hand, keeping Rex could be beneficial—in a way—to the next general manager. In a best-case scenario, the new general manager will get along with Rex, and the two could work together for years to come, as transpired with the New York Giants when the team brought in Jerry Reese as general manager while keeping head coach Tom Coughlin.
If not, next year could be a layup year for the next general manager to begin shaping the roster, and if things don't work out with Rex, the new general manager can go a different direction.
That is exactly how things transpired last offseason with the Chicago Bears. The team named Phil Emery their new general manager during the 2012 offseason and told him that they were keeping head coach Lovie Smith for the 2012 season, but that he could make a change after that if he wanted.
With the Jets' messy situations at quarterback and with the salary cap, they may not be ready to contend in 2013 anyway.
Make no mistake: Rex is deserving of another opportunity. The Jets offense never stood a chance behind Mark Sanchez's 52 turnovers in the past two seasons, coupled with a dearth of playmaking talent at the skill positions and unimaginative play-calling of offensive coordinator Tony Sparano.
For the most part, the defense held up its end of the bargain in 2012. They finished ranked seventh in total defense and sixth in defensive passer rating despite a lack of pass-rushing talent and a season-ending injury to All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis in Week 3.
Was firing Mike Tannenbaum and keeping Rex Ryan the right move?
Does the next general manager have a say in who the next offensive and defensive coordinators will be? That would seem to make sense, since either the new coordinator could eventually be a candidate to replace Rex if things don't work out.
There are a lot of uncertainties surrounding the future of the Jets coaching staff and roster, but the first domino has fallen, and many more lie ahead in the eight-month football abyss known as the offseason.
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 or via team press releases.