By Kristian Dyer
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Please take a seat, Mr. Idzik. If your team doesn’t do well this year, it might start to get a little warm. Not hot, mind you. Just a little warm.
In what will be his second year as general manager of the New York Jets, John Idzik faces a much different set of circumstances than he did this time a year ago. Go back to last training camp, and the Jets would be lucky to get a handful of wins in their season, or so was the dire prediction of many in the national media. Head coach Rex Ryan was seen as a dead man walking and Las Vegas had him as the first coach fired.
Now, the Jets are a team that — for the first time since the 2011 season — has expectations placed on their shoulders. Last year’s 8-8 record means that this season is supposed to end in the postseason, that a fourth straight campaign without a playoff visit just isn’t good enough. This is now Idzik’s team with two free-agency periods and two NFL Drafts now dotting this roster. It doesn’t look like the team built by his predecessor, Mike Tannenbaum. It now feels distinctly Idzik, and he will be judged as such.
He’s had the opportunity to clean house and cut dead weight. So many of the bad contracts he inherited are no longer on the roster and the players that will make this year’s team will have a distinctly Idzik flavor to them. He signed Eric Decker, Breno Giacomini,Chris Johnson and Jason Babin. His drafted players include Geno Smith, Dee Milliner and now Calvin Pryor and Jace Amaro.
And after a contract extension, Ryan is his head coach, and not someone he inherited.
But with this distinct Idzik feel to the Jets, the pressure on the crestfallen, slightly monotone general manager will naturally build with each week. Now that it is his Jets — and they become his Jets more and more with each day and each transaction — it means that he can’t fault anyone else if this thing doesn’t work. Just like a president can only blame his predecessor for so long about the economy or unpopular wars that happened before his term in office, Idzik’s continued roster overhaul distances him from the team he inherited.
These are now his Jets, and he will sink or swim based off of these moves.
It is clear that he has been loath to overspend and he is avoiding high-profile players with baggage. He is placing a premium on depth and competition but also on getting younger. Given the cap-space issues last year and the aging roster he was handed, all these moves are good things.
But in a league where playmakers get you wins and into the playoffs, the Jets have some catching up to do. And this is where this team falls short.
The additions made via free agency will likely be solid, but this team desperately needed a player to get them over the hump, from the average to the elite. They got better this offseason, but they didn’t take a drastic step forward. They need some stars, something they didn’t get this offseason, and that could hurt their playoff chances.
Maybe it is part of Idzik’s plan, and the Jets will be competitive and solid this year as he eyes some big moves next season. Whatever the case may be, he will start getting scrutinized more and more this year — as this team is now his. Up and down the roster are names he signed or drafted. He will be judged on how they play and the results they get.
On the flip side, throughout the league are names he cut or released. Whether rightly or wrongly, he will be judged by how these former Jets do in other places, on if they could have helped their old teammates in green and white.
But it’s his roster that can help or hurt him the most. Their wins will be shared by him; their losses will likely be entirely his. He will take the brunt of the blame if the roster just isn’t good enough, if another season of under-the-radar moves backfire, if the draft picks underwhelm yet again.
This is New York, after all.
On Thursday night, we can collectively watch for the first time just what an Idzik team looks like, how it plays and if it can win. It might just be a preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts, but it is the first true litmus test of whether this general manager who promised change and competition can deliver that. He had too much baggage to deal with last year to be accurately measured, but this year is different. This year, the team is his and he will be judged accordingly.
So take that seat there, Mr. Idzik. It will only start to get uncomfortably warm by your own doing.
Kristian R. Dyer is the Jets’ beat reporter for Metro New York and contributes to Yahoo! Sports as well as WFAN. He can be followed on Twitter @.
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