The New York Jets were an absolute mess this season. There is no way to escape that fact after the team finished with a disappointing 6-10 record and a quarterback situation in shambles.
The unsatisfactory year resulted in the firing of general manager Mike Tannenbaum on Black Monday, December 31.
But it is not all bad in the Big Apple.
There is a way to get back to the playoffs for Gang Green, as difficult or unforeseeable as that may be now.
By firing Tannenbaum, owner Woody Johnson has acknowledged the franchise is in rebuilding mode. By this point, so have Jets fans. The accepted formula in the NFL for struggling teams is to hire a GM, coach and then a quarterback.
It makes sense, as general manager’s usually want to bring in their own guys and start from scratch with a signal caller that fits into the chosen coach’s scheme.
However, New York doesn’t have that luxury as they decided to keep Head Coach Rex Ryan for next season. That won’t be a problem because finding a GM who is compatible with the colorful Ryan shouldn’t be a tall task.
He is charismatic and, by all means, the right head coach for the Jets.
The problem is finding a solid GM to build up this team. Johnson also has that covered, as the team is reportedly very interested in San Francisco 49ers director of player personnel Tom Gamble, who has spent his past seven years in the Bay.
Gamble is also talking with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but the Jets should do all it takes to snatch him up. Gamble has helped turn the 49ers into a perennial Super Bowl contender, despite being in the bottom of a division that was the joke of the league just a couple years ago.
If the San Fran executive can coexist with Ryan, then this is a no-brainer.
But he must be in tune with Rex Ryan. By not cleaning house, the Jets showed that they do have faith in Ryan coaching the team.
And for good reason.
All Gang Green has done since then is finish the year ranked second in the NFL when defending the pass. The New York Jets have limited opposing quarterbacks to just 189.8 passing yards per game, trailing only the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Let that sink in.
In total, the Jets only gave up 323.4 yards per game. That number is good for eighth in the league. Obviously, New York still has problems, but it is clear that Ryan is a master of the defense.
Yet he is more than just a coordinator.
He is loud and captivating. He is someone with thick skin who can face the media in the Big Apple. He is a great motivator. He is the right head coach.
The problem now becomes finding an offensive coordinator to run the other side of the ball. Tony Sparano is inexplicably still employed in New York. Under Sparano, the Jets were the 28th-ranked scoring offense. The anemic unit averaged 299.2 yards per game, 30th in the NFL.
His offense never got off the ground and didn’t earn the respect of his players. The Jets have to fire the former Miami Dolphins head coach and let the new GM choose his replacement.
This will prove to the current executive that the Jets have faith in him and are allowing him to choose some of his own guys. It will restore the flow of power while also, hopefully, revving up this offense.
Former San Diego Chargers coach Norv Turner, interim head coach of the New Orleans Saints Aaron Kromer and San Francisco 49ers offensive line coach Mike Solari are some names that could potentially wind up in New York. They are all good options to replace Sparano, but the final decision must come down to the new GM.
We have now run through a general manager, coach and possible coordinators. It is time to figure out a quarterback for the New York Jets. That responsibility should fall on the shoulders of Ryan and the new offensive coordinator. Plus, the new signal-caller shouldn’t have a name that rhymes with Him Webow or Lark Fanchez.
The Jets have to start from scratch with a new quarterback. They can do this in the draft. This year’s class is notoriously low in that position of need, though. But Kirk Cousins and Russell Wilson have both proved that a team can find a rookie gem in the later round. Someone like Aaron Murray or Mike Glennon can be picked beyond the first round. Of course, the Jets do have a top ten pick and might use it on a higher-ranked quarterback such as Tyler Wilson or Matt Barkley.
The safer route would be free agency and the Jets need safety. Prying Joe Flacco away from the Baltimore Ravens might be difficult, but going after one of the two stud backup quarterbacks in the NFC West via trade might be a good option. Fans would love to see either Alex Smith or Matt Flynn behind center in MetLife Stadium.
Then, the Jets must surround the new QB with talent like Victor Cruz, Dwayne Bowe, Greg Jennings, Danny Amendola or Mike Wallace.
As you can tell, the hirings of a GM, offensive coordinator and quarterback are all related. The New York Jets must hit all of these selections out of the park.
But, after a lowly season, there is still optimism for Gang Green.