The new regime has been established. New York Jets' general manager John Idzik was finally introduced to the media on Thursday morning in a press conference that marked a new beginning for a franchise currently in disarray.
A lot of speculation has surfaced in recent weeks (including mine) in regard to who's calling the shots for the Jets in the wake of an abysmal season. The popular contention that head coach Rex Ryan is the end-all decision-maker on the almighty scale of Jets' executives has started to fizzle into water-cooler talk, especially now that some light has been shed on who orchestrated the infamous Tim Tebow debacle.
Ryan barely avoided scapegoat treatment after a rough 6-10 season that saw the pitfall of the team’s so-called franchise quarterback. Ryan has failed to meet lofty, self-created expectations and has forced countless instances of unnecessary embarrassment upon the entire Jets' organization. The fact that he wasn't fired stirred the idea that Ryan had virtually been anointed the ability to make final personnel decisions.
It was arguably apparent that Ryan had power over owner Woody Johnson when the Jets held their end-of-the-season press conference on January 8th. Ryan admitted to failing to implement an effective offensive game plan in four seasons at the helm, praised former OC Tony Sparano and called next season a "new opportunity." Johnson appeared reserved, but professed that Ryan is indeed the right man to lead the Jets in 2013 without definitive clarification.
The Jets were in the process of cleaning house, but Ryan was granted reprise, causing some to question if Johnson was naive to the situation.
Idzik is the new boss in town—a highly respected contract negotiator with an impressive resume, but doesn't boast any significant experience in personnel decisions. He's never been in the forefront of team operations, despite being regarded as a football mind at his roots.
The most critical objective accomplished in his brief introduction was commanding control of the room, even though he refused to acknowledge the Jets' significant level of "dysfunction" in team operations. It's crucial for Idzik to establish himself as a capable leader instead of delegating power to his band of work horses.
The Seahawks' former Vice President of Football Administration is deep into the process of commencing an offseason overhaul. Idzik vowed to make an immediate effort to thoroughly evaluate all player personnel. He further stated that roster decisions would be a "collaborative effort," citing that he would work closely with the team's trusted football experts.
Taming the team's tabloid-nabbing phenomenon won’t be easy, especially given Ryan’s unfortunate tendency to generate trivial headlines, but it’s important to realize who’s running the show.
The affiliation between Idzik and Ryan became concise as the new GM addressed the New York media. The cohesive relationship between GM and coach won't be a power struggle. Ryan will have significant input in who the Jets add and subtract to their roster, but he won't dictate final personnel decisions.
Idzik wasn't hired just to wear a suit, after all.
The Jets' controversial head honcho seemingly played sock-puppet with former GM Mike Tannenbaum. Idzik didn't sign on to play a phantom role in Ryan's football lampoon. He was hired to build a winning football team, and Johnson is confident he has that ability—plain and simple.
Idzik introduced a business-minded approach in succinctly addressing his hefty offseason to-do list. The Jets are $19.4 million over the salary cap (via ESPN) and face enormous franchise-altering decisions, such as whether or not to trade star cornerback Darrelle Revis, and what to do with embattled quarterback Mark Sanchez.
It's unlikely that all personnel decisions will be entirely dictated by the team's salary cap situation, although it's obvious that fixing the books is a critical priority. Idzik set forth a mission of restoring the Jets to prominence, although his vision for future success conflicts with Ryan's win-now mentality.
It's possible that capitalizing on Ryan's lunacy was always in play for Johnson, just like it's plausible to believe Ryan baffled Johnson into keeping his job. At this juncture, none of it warrants relevancy though.
The Jets are moving forward and GM John Idzik is leading the charge.