Slow down, Mr. Mehta

David Aitken

Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News has decided that it’s never too early to start blaming people for failures that have not yet happened, and wrote a takedown of GM John Idzik for his “terrible start” and has already decided that if Rex Ryan gets fired this season, it is John Idzik’s fault.

idzikLet’s take a look.

“Ryan has decided to absorb the blame and criticism sure to come his way even though his general manager has done nothing to help his cause.”

Let’s make something clear. It is not John Idzik’s responsibility to save Rex Ryan’s job this season. It is John Idzik’s responsibility to clean up the mess that Mike Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan got this team into, and to build this team into a consistent year-in-and-year-out contender. It was the decision to ditch methodical team building for risky big spending with immediate returns and a lack of focus on the future that got the Jets into the mess they’re in right now in the first place. If Ryan does not have a 2013 free pass under Idzik in what is inevitably a transitional season of salary cap austerity, then the blame should be with Woody Johnson and not with John Idzik.  In that case, Rex Ryan should not have been retained for the 2013 in the first place.

Next, Mehta turns the attention to Idzik and his already apparent personnel flaws.

The early returns on Idzik’s personnel evaluation skills are not good. The Jets were supposed to bring in a veteran quarterback this offseason to hold the fort before Geno Smith, who suffered a mild ankle sprain in the preseason opener, was ready to take over. Idzik had a handful of serviceable options, but he went on the cheap and took an unnecessary gamble on David Garrard.

He could have signed Matt Hasselbeck — who would have been an ideal mentor for Smith — Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Cassel, Tarvaris Jackson or Brady Quinn this offseason. He could have given up a 2014 fifth-round pick and 2015 conditional pick for Matt Flynn like the Raiders did.

idzikMehta is correct in that the Jets would have been well served with a reliable veteran to compete with Sanchez and allow Geno Smith to sit, but in the criticism of the David Garrard signing, Mehta shows a fundamental lack of understanding for the financial restrictions the Jets were working under.

When Idzik took the reins as the new general manager, he inherited a team nearly $20 million over the cap. When the Jets were finally under, the team was working under a strict budget. The likes of Matt Hasselbeck, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kevin Kolb and Matt Cassel would have offered good competition for Sanchez, but also were signed at the typical going rate for quality backup quarterbacks at over $3 million a season.

The shout for Brady Quinn is just nonsensical given that he has zero quality starting experience and Sanchez — even with his well demonstrated problems — is head-and-shoulders above Quinn. Matt Flynn was also an unrealistic target, as he was on a large deal with Seattle before agreeing to a two-year, $11 million deal with Oakland.  Those figures were well out of the Jets range of spending.

Perhaps the Jets would have been in the market for a better quarterback option in free agency if there wasn’t a near $13 million cap number attached to Mark Sanchez?

Mehta then criticized Idzik for being unable to predict the future.

“His decision to sign running back Mike Goodson to a three-year, $6.9 million deal at the beginning of free agency has been an epic flop.

Goodson, dealing with legal issues stemming from an offseason arrest on drugs and weapons charges, has been the Jets’ own personal Waldo, nowhere to be found through the first two weeks of training camp. Idzik won’t say where Goodson is or when/if he’ll ever come back.

It was an embarrassing transaction for the first-time GM.”

The suggestion that Idzik should be at fault for signing a player who then subsequently found themselves in legal trouble is ludicrous when the player has no prior history of such transgressions and the Jets have a Paragraph 5 clause that can help them recoup at least a million dollars, so the $6.9 figure is not entirely accurate.  Also, the Jets are only paying Goodson a meager $1.3 million against the 2013 salary cap and the figure “balloons” to a $2.6 million in 2015 so he’s easy to cut at any point along the way, but that is not how they get that money back for next year’s cap.

“Idzik’s draft-day trade for Chris Ivory, who was expected to be the No. 1 running back, hasn’t worked out yet, either, leaving Ryan and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg with a depleted backfield.

Ivory, who has a history of injuries, has missed the first two weeks of practice and the first preseason game due to hamstring tightness.”

Yes, Mehta is already putting pressure on Idzik because Chris Ivory “hasn’t worked out yet.” And he’s right – Ivory’s regular season stats thus far are zero carries, for zero yards and zero touchdowns. He couldn’t be any less productive.

“Idzik threw a couple Hail Marys with Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards. Winslow, plagued by knee issues in recent years, has been Idzik’s best offseason acquisition.

However, the general manager did a poor job not finding a quality wide receiver to mitigate the loss of Santonio Holmes, whose timetable for a return from a severe foot injury is unknown.”

Not only does Mehta continue to ignore the fact that the Jets don’t have endless resources to use, but he actually is specifically blaming the Jets for not finding a “quality wide receiver” to mitigate a temporary loss. The entire article is an exhibition in short-termism.

In all, Mehta seems to lack an understanding of what John Idzik’s job actually is. Interestingly enough, Mehta attacks what Idzik has done in free agency but conveniently avoids Idzik’s work with his first draft class. Even Mel Kiper understood the context and yet appreciated the Jets approach. A successful franchise is built with consistently strong drafting, and that’s where Idzik will ultimately be judged. If we want to talk about “early signs”, the Jets started three rookies in the first preseason game and that number could be as high as five come opening day. The Jets’ first four picks represented good to excellent value , and the drafting of Geno Smith in particular has the potential to be the steal of the draft and set the franchise up for the next decade.

But, of course, we won’t know until things play about it a bit. So, how about some patience, Manish?




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