By Steve Silverman
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Woody Johnson has identified that the problem is not Rex Ryan.

But Johnson may be wrong in his conclusion.

When he fired general manager Mike Tannenbaum, there was overwhelming evidence that the Jets did not have adequate personnel to compete with the best teams in the AFC.

That they made it to the AFC Championship Game in 2009 and ’10 speaks more of Ryan’s ability to motivate a team and build a strong defense.

That they slipped in 2011 and fell apart in ’12 tells you that the talent was not good enough to compete.

So in deciding that Tannenbaum is not the right man for the job, Johnson made the right call.

The new general manager will not be able to run the Jets as he sees fit. The new general manager will have to live with Ryan as head coach for another season.

That means the Jets’ rebuilding project will take a full year longer than it should.

You should not hire a new general manager and then just tie his hands for his first year on the job. Even if organizational loyalty means a lot in business, it can be the ruination of an NFL team.

In this case, it is almost certainly misplaced loyalty.

Ryan is a decent man who puts on an interesting show for the cameras. His ability as a defensive coach is probably as strong as anyone in the NFL. He can reach his players with his motivational talks.

However, that’s not enough. He doesn’t understand offensive football, and that’s the key to winning in the NFL these days.

You don’t need a great defense to win. The days of the 1985 Chicago Bears and the 2000 Baltimore Ravens are gone. You are not going to obliterate opponents with defense any more. You just have to be good enough with your defense.

What you need is an offense that can go up and down the field. You need to be able to attack like the Patriots, Packers, Saints and Falcons.

The running game is important to take pressure off of your quarterback, but if you can’t pass the ball consistently, you have very little chance of winning consistently.

Johnson should understand this after looking at the most recent five NFL seasons. It seems clear that either Ryan does not understand this or he is incapable of running a competent offense.

A year ago, the Chicago Bears fired general manager Jerry Angelo and brought in Phil Emery to run the team, and he could not fire head coach Lovie Smith for a year.

With Smith as head coach, the Bears fell apart after a great start. Emery fired Smith the day after the season ended.

Smith had no clue about how to build a strong offensive team, even though he had a talented quarterback in Jay Cutler. Emery is now engaging in a coaching search.

The chances are that whomever Johnson hires as his next general manager will follow the same path a year from now.

Owners may want to show some loyalty to their head coaches, but when there are discernible weaknesses to their game, it’s best not to force a new general manager to hold on to a coach he does not want.

You have to let the general manager do his job, even if it leaves blood in the water.

Is Woody making a big mistake by hiring a new general manager and keeping Rex Ryan? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments section below…

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