By Ernie Palladino
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Now that Woody Johnson has sent Mike Tannenbaum packing, the owner finds himself in need of a general manager.
Snicker, snicker, right? Sure, an empty chair could have done as well as Tannenbaum the past couple of years. At least the chair wouldn’t have sunk millions of guaranteed dollars into Mark Sanchez. It probably wouldn’t have convinced Tim Tebow to come here, either. See, furniture doesn’t talk.
Unfortunately for Johnson, he needs somebody to do a lot of talking, the right kind of talking, to reverse that limited-run comedy hit of 2012 entitled “Jets Football, Or Lack Thereof.”
Unfortunately, the one guy who fits that bill to a tee is Bill Polian, and he’s not interested.
Can you blame him? Johnson, hardly a master of business, has locked himself into an albatross of a contract with Sanchez and has turned Rex Ryan into a lame-duck coach, even though he has two years remaining on his contract. Tannenbaum left the team’s financial structure a mess, and why would the aging Polian ever want to come into that shipwreck of a situation?
He wouldn’t. According to the very connected Jason LaCanfora, the 69-year-old franchise builder wants back into the NFL, but it has to be with the right team. He should get some big consideration from the Chiefs if they launch Scott Pioli after nailing down that No. 1 overall draft pick with a 2-14 season.
It’s a shame there’s no way Polian is coming east. The guy gets results. He did it with Indianapolis. He did it with the Panthers before then, and he did it with the Buffalo Bills before that. You remember Buffalo, right? No championships, but four straight Super Bowl appearances. How many Jets fans would sign up for that kind of team right now?
The thing about Polian is that he’s not exactly a warm, cuddly guy. He has an explosive temper, and he is extremely hands-on. That creates a question about how he’ll get along with the, ahem, opinionated Ryan. Polian has never worked with a loudmouth like him. His coaches — Marv Levy in Buffalo, Dom Capers in Carolina, Jim Mora and Tony Dungy in Indianapolis — were all of a more cerebral kind, though Mora did have his moments with the media (Playoffs? PLAYOFFS?). For the most part, though, those guys were low-key, respectful people who let their players do the talking on the field. No promises of Super Bowl rings. No wild proclamations concerning the quality of their teams.
So KC, with a relatively docile press corps and head coaching vacancy, would be the ideal spot for him. He’d get to hire his own coach, and put his son, Chris, in charge of the personnel department.
And ultimately, that’s where he might land.
That leaves ole Woody out in the cold. What he needs right now is a Polian clone to come walking through those Florham Park doors. Somebody perhaps younger, who has a similar temperment, with similar managerial potential. A Polian/George Young type who is less worried about sounding good on the radio and more intent on building a winning team.
A quick glance at the retread/hopefuls list tells us that person probably exists only in some fertility lab’s petrie dish right now. Short of bringing back former VP of college scouting Joey Clinkscales, currently serving in the Raiders front office, there aren’t many attractive options out there.
At least Clinkscales has draft experience, having commanded the Jets’ value board from 2008 until May of 2012, when he flew westward. But then, he’d have to share some of the blame for the lousy bunch Tannenbaum brought in the past two seasons.
The list of bonafide ex-GMs: San Diego’s A.J. Smith, Arizona’s Rod Graves, Cleveland’s Tom Heckert, Gene Smith in Jacksonville. Eh!
It’s too bad the options are so limited. The Jets didn’t give their fans a football season in 2012. Johnson owes all those PSL owners a strong GM. We’ll see now whether one of these guys steps forward to become that person, knowing full well none of them looked like a Polian clone.
The original was smart enough to steer himself away from this MetLife calamity.
Who do you think Woody Johnson should hire as the new GM? Share your thoughts below.