DETROIT — John Idzik stood in the losing locker room on Friday night as the man he hung out to dry spoke in somber tones about a team destined for irrelevance this season.
Rex Ryan showed no visible signs of anger after the Jets’ 26-17 preseason-opening loss to the Lions as he reviewed all the “self-inflicted things” such as turnovers and penalties that killed his team.
“Obviously,” Ryan said, “We’ve got to do a heck of a lot of improving.”
Ryan has decided to absorb the blame and criticism sure to come his way even though his general manager has done nothing to help his cause.
Idzik was immediately embraced by a fan base disillusioned by the previous regime that repeatedly doled out bad contracts. Although Idzik’s resume was very similar to his predecessor, he was packaged as a “football guy” whose personnel evaluation would set him apart from Mike Tannenbaum.
It was a narrative steeped in fiction.
The early returns on Idzik’s personnel evaluation skills are not good.
His honeymoon officially ended 3 minutes, 49 seconds into the preseason opener when Mark Sanchez added to his ever-growing Pick-6 collection. The Jets were supposed to bring in a veteran quarterback this offseason to hold the fort before Geno Smith, who suffered a mild ankle sprain in the preseason opener, was ready to take over.
Idzik had a handful of serviceable options, but he went on the cheap and took an unnecessary gamble on David Garrard.
He could have signed Matt Hasselbeck — who would have been an ideal mentor for Smith — Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Cassel, Tarvaris Jackson or Brady Quinn this offseason. He could have given up a 2014 fifth-round pick and 2015 conditional pick for Matt Flynn like the Raiders did.
Although none of those quarterbacks is a franchise changer, it would have been a welcomed change from Sanchez, who’s already drawn the ire of a frustrated fan base.
Instead, he went with a 35-year-old quarterback who hadn’t played a game in two seasons.
Garrard, not surprisingly, didn’t even make it to training camp due to his troublesome knees, leaving Ryan with the unenviable task of giving the same murky answers surrounding the mistake-prone Sanchez.
Although Ryan’s admission after the first preseason game that he was so engrossed with the defense that he didn’t get a chance to watch Sanchez or Smith play grabbed headlines, the real issue is that his GM didn’t fortify the position with another veteran.
Idzik’s missteps don’t end there.
His decision to sign running back Mike Goodson to a three-year, $6.9 million deal at the beginning of free agency has been an epic flop.
Goodson, dealing with legal issues stemming from an offseason arrest on drugs and weapons charges, has been the Jets’ own personal Waldo, nowhere to be found through the first two weeks of training camp. Idzik won’t say where Goodson is or when/if he’ll ever come back.
It was an embarrassing transaction for the first-time GM.
Idzik’s draft-day trade for Chris Ivory, who was expected to be the No. 1 running back, hasn’t worked out yet, either, leaving Ryan and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg with a depleted backfield.
Ivory, who has a history of injuries, has missed the first two weeks of practice and the first preseason game due to hamstring tightness.
John Griffin’s fractured leg in the preseason opener leaves the Jets with one dependable running back, Bilal Powell. Career underachiever Joe McKnight is as reliable as your local meteorologist.
Idzik threw a couple Hail Marys with Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards. Winslow, plagued by knee issues in recent years, has been Idzik’s best offseason acquisition.
However, the general manager did a poor job not finding a quality wide receiver to mitigate the loss of Santonio Holmes, whose timetable for a return from a severe foot injury is unknown.
Idzik’s stubbornness will preclude him from admitting these mistakes, but it all spells trouble for Ryan, who is left to defend a team that even Bill Belichick couldn’t win with.
Ryan’s future beyond this season remains in doubt. He’ll keep his job if the Jets show improvement from their six-win disaster a year ago. But how realistic is that?
His new boss didn’t exactly stack the roster to help him out.
Apparently this guy doesn't live in a world with a salary cap. What game changer were they suppose to bring in at QB? The names he listed are terrible. He preaches Goodson's contract without actually looking at the numbers. He wasn't considered to be a drug/weapons guy when he signed nor is his contract restrictive. Who were the Jets suppose to pick with the 4th round with Ivory's potential? The guy has been an injury liability but was worth the risk with that pick. And WR? SALARY CAP AGAIN. Who were they going to sign?!
Most important in all this, IT'S BEEN ONE PRESEASON GAME.