During the offseason we will provide analysis and information on the New York Jets as we anticipate the start of training camp.
The New York Jets do not have a great history of success with hiring general managers. Mike Maccagnan was the 13th general manager hired in team history. Of the 12 previous full-time general managers, only George Sauer Sr. and Bill Parcells were hired after their tenure with the Jets. Only Parcells made the postseason in his next job (Sauer went 6-22 in his two seasons with the Boston Patriots).
One of the worst tenures the Jets had at general manager was the two-year John Idzik experience. To be fair, Idzik never got to bring in his own coach, as he inherited Rex Ryan whom he never really wanted. Ryan was much more outspoken than Idzik who kept to himself. The two together made a very toxic pair.
How bad was the Idzik era? Outside of the horrific midseason press conference in 2014 – one that media still cringe over – a general manager should be judged on personnel and wins and losses. It’s no secret that Idzik was never comfortable with the media, so perhaps it’s a bit unfair to ridicule him on that. After all, getting along with the media or being engaging in press conferences isn’t mandatory to success – just ask the HC of the NEP (Bill Belichick).
Of the 19 draft picks that Idzik made with the Jets – including 12 in the 2014 NFL draft – only four players still remain on the current roster and only two of them (Brian Winters and Quincy Enunwa) are projected starters for 2017. Sheldon Richardson was a standout in his first two seasons with the Jets, but struggled last season. He was late for team meetings and was suspended for off the field issues. His future with the team is uncertain as the Jets tried to trade him during the 2017 NFL draft.
Perhaps it’s unfair to judge Idzik’s draft picks before we see how his top picks did, because just saying a general manager did not have success drafting is unfair without knowing the draft position. In the two seasons Idzik presided over the draft, the Jets made seven selections in the top three rounds. Just three of those seven picks are still on the roster. Dee Milliner (ninth overall pick in 2013 NFL draft) is no longer in football, while 2014 1st round pick Calvin Pryor was traded to Cleveland. Geno Smith and Jace Amaro (second round picks) are backups on other teams. Dexter McDougle has been a backup for the last few seasons, appearing in just 20 games over that span. He enters training camp on the bubble for a roster spot in the defensive backfield. We already addressed Winters (third round pick in 2013), who was signed to a four-year $29 million extension in the offseason and is projected to be the starting RG.
Aside from judging Idzik’s drafting, let’s take a look at how he did in adding quality free agents. Here are the list of players he signed each offseason.
2013 – RB Chris Ivory, RB Mike Goodson, TE Kellen Winslow, G/OT Willie Colon, NT Antonio Garay, DE/OLB Antwan Barnes, S Dawan Landry.
2014 – RB Chris Johnson, WR Eric Decker, WR/KR Jacoby Ford, OT Breno Giacomini, CB Dimitri Patterson.
Of these players, none are currently on the roster. Garay, Ford and Patterson never made it out of training camp. Winslow, Barnes and Goodson played in a combined 24 games (just three starts). Goodson was arrested in the offseason, suspended and suffered a season-ending knee injury after he played in two games. Johnson, Landry, Colon, and Giacomini played key roles with the team in their tenure but were ultimately released. Decker and Ivory were very productive, but not kept.
One positive part of the Idzik era was that he did leave the Jets with salary cap room upon his departure, Due to his inefficient drafts and player moves the Jets had over $50 million in cap space entering the 2015 offseason.
As the Jets enter the 2017 season, regimes like Idzik’s are part of the stench that penetrates this franchise. The roster purge that took place this offseason is a good sign that the current regime of Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles are learning from their first two seasons. The fact is that it can take years to undue mistakes and get things on the right track. History shows that the Jets aren’t usually patient with their general managers and head coaches once they start a downward trend. However, I think that this regime should be given the chance to learn from their mistakes. That is something that has not occurred in this franchises history.
Mark Kelly covers the New York Jets for ProFootballSpot.com. You can follow him on twitter @CkmagicSports. Looking for more Jets news and features? Like our Jets Facebook page and also follow @spot_jets on Twitter.