Idzik needs to accept accountability for creating high expectations when he knew damn well this team was in a rebuilding stage and he needs to step up and spare Rex Ryan from being the one and only punching bag.
Ryan is in no way above criticism (This is not a Ryan should not be fired after the season article, I don’t think Ryan deserves to be fired but I also don’t think he necessarily deserves to keep his job anymore and as the great Felicia ‘Snoop’ Pearson said, “deserve ain’t got nothing to do with it.”), but by letting Ryan be the one and only spokesman for what is wrong with this team, that he (John Idzik) put together, Idzik is hanging Ryan out to dry.
Idzik isn’t planning on talking to the media until sometime around the Jets bye week, which is still five weeks away, and normally that would be totally acceptable. General managers don’t usually hold press conferences five weeks into the season, but when the world seems to be calling for Ryan to be fired Idzik needs to step in and deflect some of the blame that Ryan continues to place all on himself.
Ryan continues to fall on the sword, he continues to say he believes in this team, he believes the talent is there and he knows if he doesn’t get this team turned around he won’t have a job here after the season. Everyone knows how confident Ryan is, supreme confidence is embedded in his DNA, but even he can’t honestly believe this roster isn’t littered with holes and question marks.
Since Woody Johnson hired Idzik we have heard all about his patience. Johnson has repeatedly stated that he hired Idzik because he won’t succumb to the outside noise (the media or disgruntled fans) and he would remain patient. That’s all well and good but that doesn’t explain why he hasn’t just come out and admitted he is in the second-year of a complete rebuilding phase.
It’s real simple, all Idzik had to say was something to the effect of, ‘We are going to rebuild this roster from top to bottom and turn it into a team that achieves sustainable success. This may take some time, but we still expect to be competitive. You can rebuild and remain competitive in this league, and that’s what we plan to do, but this is a rebuilding process.’
If Idzik just took the time to explain the reason he didn’t use more of the cap space is because unused cap space can be rolled over into the following year (something many fans still don’t realize and the New York media is conveniently forgetting to mention) and he wanted to keep the cap flexibility intact until he felt the roster was closer to being a winning team before he started making numerous splashes in free-agency then we wouldn’t be seeing the same outrage over the 1-4 start.
The unused cap space doesn’t go straight into Johnson’s pocket, it rolls over into the next year and eventually has to be spent because of what is called the cap floor. The new CBA states that over four-year periods (2013-’16, 2017’-20) teams must spend up to 89 percent of the cap, meaning within the next two years the Jets will have a ton of money to spend and they will be required to do so.
Idzik is being roundly criticized for not spending more of the cap this year and that’s a perfectly legitimate criticism if you’re only focused on this year. But seeing as Idzik is only a quarter of the way through year-two of this rebuild it’s a very short-sided and misleading criticism. The problem is Idzik isn’t here to say this, instead he lets Ryan continue to face all the criticism knowing that Ryan isn’t about to throw his boss under the bus.
I believe Idzik has a plan, a deliberate plan that follows the mold of other successful franchises, build through the draft, spend wisely and don’t dip into that cap flexibility until you think you’re in reach of a championship. I still believe his plan is the right plan for long-term sustainable success, he’s going to make some moves that won’t work along the way everyone does. But historically Idzik’s plan is what works in this league, the problem is he isn’t being honest with the fans, his players or his coach.
Where this gets even messier is the fact that everyone assumes Ryan is coaching for his job. So, why give Ryan an extension after last season only to turn around and slow play free-agency the following year and possibly fire the coach for failing to live up to ridiculously disingenuous expectations? Maybe it’s a false assumption that Ryan is coaching for his job, but that’s on Idzik for letting that assumption continue to percolate.
If Idzik fires Ryan it looks like he’s putting all the onus on Ryan and not accepting culpability for his part in creating this underwhelming roster. If Idzik doesn’t fire Ryan he makes himself look foolish for creating high expectations then supporting the coach that has failed to live up to those expectations. If Idzik fires Ryan then he has to start from scratch and hire an entire new staff, which of course would signal a rebuild. If Idzik keeps Ryan how is anyone supposed to take them seriously when they say they expect to win next year, even if they do go on a free-agency shopping spree?
Either way Idzik looks bad and he looks worse for hiding while his coach has to face the criticism everyday. Ryan is basically employing the whole, ‘the buck stops here’ thing, which is admirable even if it’s likely to get him fired, but what about his boss?
What boss would say ‘the buck stops at the employee directly below me?’
John Idzik, that’s who.