It was only a few years ago that New York Jet fans were proclaiming Mike Tannebaum to be on of the very best general managers in the sport. After taking over the team in 2005, Tannenbaum helped propel the Jetsfrom outside the playoff window into perennial Super Bowl contenders within three seasons of his arrival.
But after a season of sheer disappointment and news surfacing that the Jets have allowed right tackle Wayne Hunter to earn guaranteed money, almost ensuring him being on the roster in 2012, is “Tanny” losing his touch as the Jets GM?
As the Jets were failing this past season to produce the results expected, it was becoming evident that a knack for throwing away veteran players became a problem for the team. Tannenbaum’s poor decisions disrupted the team chemistry.
A team can’t work well without leadership, and by the time the Jets had ran through their first cuts before the draft had even arrived, it was evident that some veterans wouldn’t be back in the Jets locker room.
The Jets needed to clear cap space and they chose to do so by showing the door to four players: outside linebacker Jason Taylor, right tackle Damien Woody, nose tackle Kris Jenkins and tight end Brian Hartsock. All of the players involved were veterans in the league and considered good characters in the locker room.
To make matters worse, the Jets failed to replace any of these players through free agency, going with players from their own team to take over. Aside from Sione Pouha filling in for Jenkins, the rest of the projects were busts.
Matthew Mulligan was a penalty machine that could not pass block in replacement of Hartsock.
Wayne Hunter looked like one of the worst offensive tackles in the league.
Taylor was lucky to be replaced by Aaron Maybin, who wasn’t good enough to make the Jets roster out of training camp but lead the team in sacks by the end of the season.
Other moves, like allowing wide receiver Braylon Edwards to sign elsewhere for a man just out of prison in Plaxico Burress weren’t well received by season’s end, either. Nor was spending time courting a cornerback to come and play second-fiddle to Darrelle Revis instead of targeting an actual need like a pass-rusher.
Fans are beginning to throw some blame in Tannenbaum’s corner. But how much does he really deserve?
The Jets were held up against the proverbial wall, cash-strapped and forced to make extremely tough decisions to get back into the playoffs. In retrospect, those decisions that are listed look horrendous. But let’s review them individually.
Wayne Hunter was coming off an overall impressive season filling in for Damien Woody, who was suffering from an injury. At an old age, replacing Woody with Hunter didn’t seem too crazy. In retrospect, it was the worst move of the offseason. But at the time it made sense
Tight end Brian Hartsock was a good player but too expensive for a team like the Jets in a rough cap situation. Mulligan was a cheap replacement and the Jets were keeping him around for a reason. They believed he could be a blocking tight end in this league and it somewhat backfired.
Linebacker Jason Taylor was old and wasn’t as good as the Jets hoped he would be in 2010. Yes, Jamaal Westerman, a third-year player from Rutgers didn’t work out as a pass-rusher liked the Jets had hoped. But Taylor wouldn’t have contributed too much to the Jets in 2012, either.
The Jets believed Braylon Edwards would find big money in the 2011 offseason but he ended up receiving $1 million to play with San Francisco while the Jets played Plaxico Burress $3.017 million as Edwards’ replacement. Either way, Edwards didn’t do much for the 49ers, making only 15 catches for them in 2011.
With Nnamdi Asomugha at cornerback, the Jets looked poised to have the best cornerback duo in the league. However, when he spurned them for the Philadelphia Eagles, Antonio Cromartie had to have felt unwanted.
As seen, the moves made could be justified and they just didn’t end up working out too well. The blame for that goes in a lot of different directions, including head coach Rex Ryan who talks about being able to coach any personality in the league, yet failed to keep a locker room under control once a few leaders departed.
Tannenbaum’s offseason was far from great and another weak one could put his job in jeopardy. That said, saying he is losing his magic touch because of a few mistakes doesn’t seem fair. The Jets have only flirted with success like they have recently on the oddest occasion. Historically, the Jets haven’t been consistently good.
Under Tannenbaum, one of the best Jet teams of all time was built and just fell short of a Super Bowl in 2010. With that under his resume, Tanny deserves more than an offseason and one move to determine whether he still has his magic touch.
While I am under the full belief that both Tannenbaum and Mark Sanchez would both be fired before Rex Ryan, Mike Tannenbaum won’t likely be gone as the Jets general manager until he has a chance to sort out the mess he and the Jets front office made in 2011.