By Kristian Dyer
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Here on “Black Monday” as the team clears out its lockers, the Jets must clear out the dead weight from this season. It started with the removal of general manager Mike Tannenbaum.
The Jets as a team and as a franchise are pointed in the wrong direction, this year’s 6-10 record a second straight season where the playoffs have been missed and where there have been more losses than in the year before. Last season was supposed to be an aberration, a year where the Jets failed to reach lofty goals with a star-studded lineup and a return to the postseason being heralded by the team during training camp. Instead the Jets regressed on and off the field.
Tannenbaum bears the full weight and responsibility of the decisions that saw the Jets lack star power on offense and any semblance of speed on defense, in particular at the linebacker position.
Over the past four years, Tannenbaum’s track record has been clearly subpar. His drafting record includes moving up to select quarterback Mark Sanchez No. 5 overall and reaching over the past few years to take Kyle Wilson in the first round, Vlad Ducasse in the second round and perhaps even Stephen Hill this past draft, also taken in the second round. His free agent pickups and trades have registered little return, highlighted by the lackluster performance of linebacker Jason Taylor and trades for locker room cancer Santonio Holmes as well as this year when he brought in backup quarterback Tim Tebow. Not decisions that lead to wins.
All Tannenbaum has done over the past four years is bring in more of the same and recycle veteran names year after year. Precious little depth has been added via the draft as every other team in the AFC either reloads or rebuilds from their draft picks.
Equally as distressing for Jets fans are the long-term deals he handed to Sanchez and Holmes, moves that cripple the team moving forward by tying up chunks of the salary cap for four more years. Look to the team to the north in New England and they are willing to part with talent, no matter how productive, if the price isn’t right. This season will likely be the last for Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker with the team as his looming payday would cripple New England’s salary cap flexibility. It will be a tough decision but one that ensures the long term viability of the product on the field.
The Jets lack the guts and the clarity of a vision to make such a difficult call. Now they need to bring in someone who can and will do that.
They need the anti-Tannenbaum.
Someone who thinks outside the box and isn’t afraid to cut ties with the likes of a Sanchez or the now-gone Vernon Gholston instead of propping them up in hopes of polishing his own legacy.
The mark of a good leader is being able to see an error and admit to it, going in another direction when need be and taking the proverbial U-turn. The Jets simply have gone in circles over the past four years and have sacrificed the future for a poorly planned present. Seemingly, they haven’t learned from their mistakes and now they’re mired in an unfortunate spot: Too good to blow this thing up and not good enough to not rebuild.
As a whole, this isn’t a bad team. The defense needs some revamping, especially at linebacker where likely three-fourths of the team’s starters in Week 1 will be gone or coming back at reduced rates. The back-end is overall solid, especially if Darrelle Revis can return from his season-ending knee injury. And there are some pieces on offense but tough choices must be made with regards to the future of Sanchez, Tebow and Holmes along with tight end Dustin Keller and right guard Brandon Moore.
Whoever takes over and assumes the role of general manager will need to look past the quick fixes that have marked so many of this team’s moves over the years. He must have the audacity to stand strong and turn a perennial punching bag into the one that throws some punches of its own.
It must be a bold selection. Anything else would simply be more of the same.
Kristian R. Dyer covers the Jets for Metro New York and also contributes to Yahoo!Sports. He can be followed for Jets news @KristianRDyer
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