Next season, Eric Mangini and Mike Tannenbaum will be in their 3rd season as HC and GM of the NY Jets, and as incredible as it seems, the Jets could quite possibly be in worse shape than they were when they took over. Granted, they inherited a pile of trash from the bumbling, clueless duo of Terry Bradway and Herman Edwards. For five years, they wasted draft picks, signed bad free agents to lucrative, handcuffing contracts, and after exhausting all the mileage on a veteran core, particularly Curtis Martin, Herm slithered out of town to leach off a more healthier host.
Most new head coaches take over losing franchises (Herm being one of the rare exceptions), so it’s part of the deal, knowing going in, you’ll be behind the eight ball. There is a short grace period, one or two seasons, and usually by the 3rd year you get a pretty good idea on which way you want to go- whether to stay the course, or move in a new direction. By the time we are three years removed from the Herm and Bradway debacle, Eric Mangini will long be out of excuses.
Last year, the Jets addressed the questionable QB position by drafting Kellen Clemens in the second round. This year, they used their second round pick by trading it to Chicago for RB Thomas Jones. Those were the two biggest holes the Jets had to fill, but unfortunately, there is still a question mark at those two spots. Jones has not scored a TD on 160 carries, and the offensive line is so bad that there really isn’t an honest yardstick by which to measure Clemens’ ability. That in and of itself is a major problem, because you can’t build an offense until you have an idea around whom you’re going to build it. Mangini addressed the offensive line in last year’s draft, taking D’Brick and Mangold in the first round. But this season the run blocking and pass-protection has been sub par. Last year, the Jets won a share of games on trick plays using WR Brad Smith. This season, Schotty tried incorporating Smith into the regular offense, to mixed results.
The offense is bad, but the defense is worse. In their last game, the Redskins totaled 296 yards on the ground, with 48 carries. Also, the Jets have no pass rush. You can’t even call it bad, because it’s non-existent. It’s only the second week of November, and already, this season is over.
What is there to look forward to? This team will not be good for any time in the foreseeable future. Previous management inherited a team with a core in place with a healthy shelf life, so they were afforded the luxury to look good on paper for a few years and maintain job security while shaking Woody down for more money. In fairness to Mangini and Tannenbaum, they were not as fortunate. There was no core in place around which they could build, or maintain continuity by bringing in ‘hold the fort’ players, until they were able to develop their own young players, create a new core, and inevitably (if all goes as planned) win a championship. I always get a kick out of it, each time I mentally revisit the time Herman Edwards made that bizarre speech towards the end of the 4-12 2005 season about “Leaving it better for the next guy” because that guy left a mess behind him. But that was almost three years ago.
Three seasons should be plenty of time to build a foundation, develop team catalysts, bring in complementary players, and plug in the holes so that you have a team that can compete with the NFL elite. Here we are, midway through the second season under this regime, and the best the Jets can do, is eke out a win against bottom feeders like the Dolphins. Next year does not promise anything different; the Jets still will have no core or foundation in place. Both the offensive line, and defensive line need a major overhaul, and there is a question mark at the QB and RB position. Even if Clemens is the future at QB, I still can’t envision everything else being fixed by next year. The fact remains, Tannenbaum and Mangini will have had three years to do that, and they didn’t get the job done. I thought they were going to clean up the trash, but instead the pile has just gotten higher and smellier.