Poll: Who’s to Blame?

Brian Bassett , TheJetsBlog.com

So far, the Jets season has been little more than a hot mess, so with this in mind, how has this come to pass?  There’s plenty of blame to go around, so let’s explore a few areas and then you can vote (multiple choice, hooray!) in the poll below.  We’ll stick with the greatest hits and let you round out anything else in the comments or on the poll.  While it might look like it, the point isn’t to be an abitrary witch hunt, it’s to determine where fans feel like the team needs the most correction come the off-season.

Owner Woody Johnson — A lot of aspersions have been cast at Woody Johnson over the years, mostly since he championed the Jets ill-fated courtship of Brett Favre.  Favre of course was with the Jets for one year and dictated his own offense and yet threw as many picks as touchdowns, allegedly sexted with Jenn Sterger and some masseuses going from King of New York to persona non grata in less than one year.  Since then, Woody was enthused with Rex Ryan during their coaching search in early 2009 and brought him into to run the team.  Woody has also been accused of lack of focus, elevating the importance of ticket sales over football.  He also might have gone outside the football lines and ruffled feathers in his attention and support of the 2012 US Presidential election.

General Manager Mike Tannenbaum — For better or worse, Mike Tannenbaum has doggedly sought to find the right talent for the organization.  Tannenbaum counts Bill Parcells his mentor and is one of the last links to that era of the Jets.  Since 2006, he has “left no stone unturned,” made many (unkept?) promises to players and added talent to the roster through the draft, trades and free agency.  Tannenbaum has come under fire for potentially short-sighted football decisions (Favre, Tebow), but has also been lauded for masterful trades (Cromartie, Holmes, Sanchez trade up).  Tannenbaum has taken full responsibility for Vernon Gholston and there’s been questions about the strength of recent drafts and free agent classes.   To be fair, the Jets have been hamstrung in recent years by CBA rules, specifically in the uncapped year.  In all, Mike Tannenbaum is a master of finding value and isn’t afraid to go against the grain to find it.  Many do point out that his lack of longtime football scouting experience might limit his ability to make the right calls to find players from undervalued (ie undrafted free agents, late round draft) channels.

Head Coach Rex Ryan — Everyone loved Rex Ryan when he came to New York, bringing his fresh approach to the Jets after the staid and stale Eric Mangini.  We warned at the time that while it was a nice change, it was winning that mattered most.  Promises, guarantees and a kinder gentler approach in the locker room and to veteran players would only spare him the heat while the team was good.  Ryan was instrumental in bringing in players like Bart Scott, Santonio Holmes, Jason Taylor, LaDainian Tomlinson and made him – for a two year period following Hard Knocks – one of the most desirable coaches to play for among veteran players.  Just last month, he was voted as the Most Overrated Coach by an SI poll from among active players.  The team hasn’t been much good over the past two seasons and there is a growing discontent with his on-field results over any wild claims made by the coach.  This year, he’s stuck to a core message of belief and sticking together.  Internally it might be working, but outsiders are extremely dubious.  Ryan knows how to implement a stout defense when he has the right players, but his inability to find competent caretakers for his offense since 2010 seems to be stressing his tenure with the team. For good or ill, Rex was instrumental in the acquisition of Mark Sanchez.  Ryan was allowed to pick his defensive coordinator when he came aboard (Pettine) as well as his offensive coordinator (Sparano) this past year.

Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano — Fired last year midseason by the Dolphins, the Jets settled on Sparano quickly as their replacement offensive coordinator in the offseason.  Sparano might understand offenses and running games but has never held the responsibility with running a whole NFL offense on his own and it’s showing this year.  While his “chunk plays” mentality is a good one, the Jets have barely been able to execute it.  Questions about his ability to be a coordinator are mounting.  Sparano might be best equipped to be an OL coach or even running coordinator much like Tom Cable.  Sparano has not been able to get the most out of his limited offensive talent. For someone who has a reputation as a ground and pound coach, the Jets have been able to sustain much of an offense on the ground, rarely breaking four yards per carry (the rule of thumb for mediocrity).

Quarterback Mark Sanchez — Mark Sanchez was anointed the starter before the start of his first season and he’s never been challenged at any point since then for his starting job.   Since Sanchez’s arrival, the Jets have never allowed any real mounted threat to his starting job before the arrival of Tim Tebow this past spring and that still hasn’t been much of a legitimate threat.  Sanchez plays well in stretches – mostly when he’s decisive and quick to get off the ball.  Most of this season he’s struggled with his decision making and he’s currently on pace for career worsts in YPA (6.2), passing percentage (52.0%) as well as passer rating (70.4).  Other than between years one and two, there’s never been much advancement in Sanchez’s statistics and by year four, the adage is that a team already knows who their quarterback is.  Rumor is that there is some quiet dissent on Sanchez and the Jets have done their best to allow themselves an easy out after 2013 from his burdensome contract.

Have fun!!