Former New York Jets’ GM Mike Tannenbaum’s name has been circulating New York, but not for the reasons most Jets’ fans would think. His return to the New York sports scene is due to his newfound job as an agent. He was that guy who helped to steer New York Knicks’ potential head coaching candidate Steve Kerr to Golden State as his representative. At this time, because of Tannenbaum’s resurgence onto the Big Apple’s athletic landscape, it is appropriate to look back and compare his tenure with the ongoing tenure of current GM John Idzik.
Tannenbaum, as GM of the Jets, had an overall record of 57-55. Teams that he built made it to the playoffs three times, in 2006, 2009, and 2010. He was responsible for drafting Mark Sanchez and signing Tim Tebow, among other personnel moves. His legacy is mixed, with some good seasons (10-6 in 2006, 11-5 in 2010), and some bad seasons (4-12 in 2007, 6-10 in 2012). An argument can be made that his reign as GM was successful; after all, the Jets made it to the AFC Championship game in back-to-back seasons.
However, most Jets’ fans would agree that he ended up driving the team into the ground. After those promising seasons in 2009 and 2010, the team regressed horrifically, missing the playoffs in the two years after that, which eventually culminated with his firing after the 2012 season. He presided over the disastrous Thanksgiving Day game against the Patriots, which will be remembered forever as the game of the “butt-fumble.” He often overestimated the abilities of players and overpaid them, hence Mark Sanchez’s undeserved contract extension after the 2011 season, and that ultimately harmed the Jets in a big way.
As GM of the team, Tannenbaum turned the Jets into a media circus. The team was featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks, and Rex Ryan’s antics were a back-page fixture on New York’s tabloids. This attention was all fine and good while the Jets were winning in 2009 and 2010, but the exploits of the players and Ryan were no longer cute once the Jets started to lose. The fan base turned on the team, and owner Woody Johnson and no choice but to fire Tannebaum after what was a terrible 2012 season.
Idzik, so far in his tenure, has done much to improve the roster of the Jets. He dialed down the media attention on the team, which allowed Ryan and players to focus more on the football aspect, instead of the social aspect of the team. It may be too soon to judge Idzik’s tenure (it has only been one year, after all), but we are going to try. In Itzik’s first year, the Jets overachieved and blew away expectations, going 8-8 with rookie quarterback Geno Smith leading the team. The Jets were often overmatched against their opponents, but they showed a grit and determination that cannot be taught. In the upcoming season, after a reboot of the roster this offseason, Jets fans expect the team to build on their success of last year and make the playoffs. The fans have high expectations for the team, and even if Bleacher Report predicts the team to go 5-11, the fans are counting on them to make the playoffs.
Idzik has made a lot of positive moves so far, getting rid of Sanchez, overpaid cornerback Antonio Cromartie, and troublesome receiver Santonio Holmes. He has replaced those men with younger, more dependable players, which can only benefit the team in the upcoming season. He signed stud receiver Eric Decker and snatched up lightning-fast running back Chris Johnson, to name a couple of examples of his shrewd moves. The team is young and bursting with talent, which is a complete turnaround from this same point last season, when pessimism reigned in New York Jets land, and that is a very encouraging sign for the team.
Of course, we should not make any hasty judgements on Idzik’s tenure, since many Jets fans were saying positive things about Tannenbaum in 2010, only to see their optimism slowly drift away. However, so far, Idzik has created a positive future for the Jets, and has neatly cleaned up the mess that Tannenbaum left for him. That, in and of itself, is saying a lot, and there is no reason to believe that Itzik won’t keep improving the team into a playoff contender.