What We Learned from Tuesday's New York Jets Press Conference
The most highly anticipated end-of-season press conference in recent memory has come to pass, and there was no shortage of questions as the New York Jets brass took the stage.
What needs to improve for this team to turn it around? What does the future hold for Mark Sanchez? Where does the team stand in its search for a new general manager? What about that awesome tattoo we've heard so much about?
With just shy of 45 minutes worth of questions and answers, there's an awful lot to sift through.
Here are some of the biggest and most relevant takeaways from the press conference.
Rex Is Completely Safe for 2013...and Beyond?
Those angles indicate Ryan is here to stay at least for 2013, and possibly beyond that.
Johnson held no punches in saying Rex is the head coach for 2013. He said that one of the conditions for the next general manager will be that he accepts Ryan as the head coach for this coming season. Johnson later added that he never even considered firing Ryan.
Rex went on to call it a "new beginning," and said that there won't be conflicts between him and the next general manager because they will both share the same goal: winning a championship.
We have heard a lot about the perils of a relationship between a new general manager and a head coach that he did not appoint. Look no further than the situation in Chicago, where Bears head coach Lovie Smith was fired by general manager Phil Emery one year after Emery accepted the GM job under the condition that he could decide on Smith's future when the coach's contract expired.
Ryan's contract is not up until 2014, but Johnson gave his coach another vote of confidence in saying that there was no mandate for him to make the playoffs to keep his job with the Jets beyond 2013.
He added, "I have ultimate confidence in Rex as a head coach, as a leader, as a motivator, [and] as a play-caller."
As far as an evaluator of talent? On that subject there was a little more ambiguity, but it sounds like the next Jets general manager will have the final say (more on that later).
We will learn more about the power structure in New York when the new GM is announced, but it's now clear that Ryan will be in the mix no matter what.
The Offensive Mentality Will Change Dramatically, but We Don't Know Specifics
There will be major changes on the offensive side of the ball, and the firing of offensive coordinator Tony Sparano is the first of many.
However, Ryan did not put the blame squarely on the shoulders of Sparano, saying, "I think I have failed in that area (building an offense), and for whatever reason, it's hard to see that, but i think it's clear that that's where I've come up short."
Rex repeatedly used the word "attack" to describe what he wants the offensive mentality to be, going so far to admit his mistakes in trying to build around the "ground-and-pound" mentality:
That kind of attack and unpredictability we have on defense, I think we need to build throughout this football team, and I think that's kind of where I'm at 100 percent now. ...maybe I misjudged the thing about 'I just want to ground-and-pound' and [having] that type of mentality, maybe I bought into that more than maybe I should have. Maybe I needed to be more open-minded and look at things a little more differently.
The Chargers have been one of the league's most explosive offenses under Turner, with the fifth-most pass plays of 20 yards or more over the past six years (his tenure as San Diego's head coach).
Searching for the Next General Manager
As mentioned above, one of the conditions for the next general manager will be that he keeps Ryan as the head coach for 2013.
Beyond that, though, it didn't sound like there would be a whole lot of limitations placed on whoever that guy is.
Rex will have say in personnel going forward but ultimately the GM will have final say, which is a major positive. #Jets— Jeff Capellini (@GreenLanternJet) January 8, 2013
There have been a number of questions as to how much power Ryan had over the Jets' personnel decisions when Mike Tannenbaum was the GM. Rex didn't shy away from taking his share of the blame there, either.
"We made a ton of decisions together," Ryan said. "They were always Jet decisions. Not all of them were right."
Certainly more of them were wrong than right, otherwise Tannenbaum would still have his job. Who's going to have the opportunity to turn it around, and when will the decision be made? Johnson was not candid on that:
We're looking at somebody who can guide this team to the next level of success, and really, change the dynamic that yields more consistent success on the field.
...As they say, when the process is over, it's over. We'll keep looking until we find somebody that we're comfortable with and fits our vision of where we want to take this team.
No Bonds to Mark Sanchez
Although Ryan's tattoo of Mark Sanchez may help to explain why he stuck by the "Sanchize" for so long, Ryan said it will play no role in Sanchez's future with the team:
It's funny, it's actually a tattoo I've had going on three years now. I know what you're thinking—obviously if Sanchez doesn't play better that number is changing. That's pretty much a given.
Ryan had said earlier in the press conference that he wanted to get the general manager and offensive coordinator in place before commenting on personnel, but the questions about Sanchez kept coming.
A tattoo may not indelibly bond Rex to Sanchez, but could an $8.25 million guaranteed contract for 2013? Perhaps not; Ryan and Johnson indicated that money would not be a factor in the team's decision at quarterback. Said Ryan:
Obviously, the situation—whoever the offensive coordinator is, his system, all those type of things, there will be a lot of things that go into it. But money, the financial part of it, will not have any considerations for it. We'll play the player that fits what we do best, what we believe gives us the best chance.
They even went as far as to call it an open competition.
This is another step back in what's been a big-time free fall for Sanchez over the past two years.
Whoever the next offensive coordinator is will have a huge task on his hands if the Jets are to make Sanchez a successful reclamation project.
Reader Mike G. (@Young_Press) asked:
@erikfrenz Erik, I read the article but what did YOU take away. General perception is it was a bad press conference— Mike G (@Young_Press) January 8, 2013
Overall, the press conference went as well as it could have. We didn't get many insightful answers because there aren't many insightful answers to give right now.
We still don't know who the general manager or offensive coordinator is going to be. We can't possibly know who the starting quarterback is going to be, either. We were never going to get those answers. One answer we got was to a question that wasn't asked: Rex is not equipped to handle the offense. He admitted so much in saying he failed to instill the mentality that he wanted.
It sounds like Rex will have input in the offense, but the coordinator will be autonomous for the most part. How will that impact the power structure in the coaching staff? Does that perpetuate the long-held belief that the Jets are divided in the sense that they are an "offense vs. defense" team?
That much makes the whole thing seem a bit perilous, but that's not to say it can't work.
It's certainly a positive that Rex sees this as a "new beginning" as he called it, but it's fair to wonder if Woody Johnson and/or the next general manager feels the same way.
I don't think it made the Jets look foolish, as some writers seem to think. They have admitted where they have fallen short, and they have committed themselves to building a winning franchise.
We got a clear answer as to why Johnson chose to keep Ryan. He has confidence that Rex is the right guy for the job and clearly does not attribute the shortcomings of 2012 to Rex's coaching abilities.
Rex has seemingly come to grips with the fact that Mark Sanchez is not the quarterback for the job, and that they'll need a dramatic overhaul on offense to fix the problems there.
What's left to say?
We got some good answers at this press conference, but to me, there are still a lot of questions about how this will work out in the long run. Those questions will not be answered in a press conference, but on the football field in 2013.
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.
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