By Steve Silverman
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The Jets are in the process of interviewing candidates for the vacant general manager’s job, and the more time that goes by, the more it becomes clear that the Jets are making a big mistake.
Former Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo goes on the hot seat today, and he is a legitimate candidate because he paid his dues in the Windy City as the team’s boss from 2001 through 2012.
A look at the record shows that the Bears were largely a contender. Angelo did a professional job as GM, hiring Lovie Smith as head coach, bringing in a high-priced free agent pass rusher in Julius Peppers, trading for Jay Cutler and doing well with middle- and late-round draft picks.
Angelo struggled with his first-round picks, and that’s not a good thing for an NFL general manager. However, that’s really not the big issue.
The Jets’ mistake is not giving an interview to Angelo and considering him as the team’s next general manager.
The real problem is that they will saddle him or whomever they hire with Rex Ryan as head coach.
It’s not that Ryan is an abysmal failure. It’s that he isn’t Angelo’s guy (if he ends up as the next GM).
That’s a problem in the NFL. If you bring in a general manager – who is supposed to be the overall boss of your football organization – you cannot tell him who his head coach is going to be if you want him to do a good job of running the team.
Hiring the head coach is probably the most important overall decision a general manager is going to make. A first-round draft choice may turn out to be the team’s best and most important player or a free agent can change the fortunes of a franchise, but the head coach creates the signature for the franchise.
When you hire a general manager and tell him that he must keep the current head coach on the job, you send the message that the GM really is not the boss and many will question his authority.
That’s not just the general manager’s peers either, who may have doubts about his strength, intelligence and authority.
That also include the players and coaches on his own team.
So, Jets owner Woody Johnson is going to hamstring his new general manager for at least one season.
If the choice is Angelo and he has to live with Ryan for a season before he can assert himself and do his own hiring, it seems likely that the season will be one of treading water.
That’s what happened to the Bears this year, when they fired Angelo, hired Phil Emery and made him keep head coach Lovie Smith.
The Bears were a top-of-the-line franchise for half the season, rolling to a 7-1 record. The second-half collapse kept the Bears out of the playoffs and gave Emery the freedom he needed to fire Smith.
But the damage is done. Emery may have the authority to make whatever move he deems necessary now, but a year of having his hands tied created the impression that he is a boss with limitations.
Perception is reality for Emery.
It will also be the case for the next Jets general manager. If you take a job in which you have the title and the perks, but you don’t have the authority, you will never be recognized as one of the best in your profession.
If you come in with conditions, you are subject to other conditions in the future.
That’s no way to turn your franchise around.
Do you agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments!