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Posted 5 Nov 2014
QuoteGreg Schiano as the next Jets coach? He'll be gunning for a second shot at the NFL
So the career rehabilitation begins, and it starts with a humbled Greg Schiano dutifully putting away the Fruity Pebbles in his Tampa kitchen before he continues studying the careers of men who have failed Ė and risen Ė before him.
Pete Carroll is the first coach named in the fascinating Sports Illustrated piece, with Schiano reading his book ďForever WinningĒ and talking to coaches who worked under him. Bill Belichick is the next big name mentioned, with the former Rutgers coach spending a week behind the scenes in New England with his friend turned mentor.
Carroll. Belichick. The names are hardly random, because at 48, Schiano wants the football world to know that he's ready for his own championship-level third act in coaching. He elevated Rutgers from the college football basement, landed with a thud in Tampa Bay after two rocky years with the Buccaneers, and now is out to add his name to that list by proving his doubters wrong with Ö the Jets?
Go ahead and laugh, but it's clear Schiano is aiming high for his next gig. A year off and an even bigger implosion in Tampa under his successor Lovie Smith has elevated his status on the coaching market. The SI story is a masterful public relations move, softening his rough edges as a coach looking to reinvent himself.
It almost felt like 3,000-word cover letter dropped on Woody Johnson's desk. Johnson no doubt wants to replace the players' coach Rex Ryan with somebody who can bring some discipline to One Jets Drive. He knows Schiano from his days at Rutgers. Will he get the job? Who knows, but his resume and qualifications certainly merit enough for an interview.
If not the NFL, a college program Ė and a good one Ė will come calling. I've always thought his skill set, his ability to recruit and motivate young players, always fit better on the college level. Imagine him taking over a program where he didn't have to worry about all of the institutional problems he had to overcome at Rutgers, where the high school stars always listened and the stadium was a finished product.
A place like Michigan comes to mind, of course, and the job he once turned down likely will be open. People close to Schiano agree that he'll be choosy with his next job, and would rather sit out a year than jump into a difficult situation.
So put a line through Rutgers, even if the bottom drops out from under Kyle Flood in the final month of the season. Schiano is not walking back through the Hale Center doors, not when he inherits a schedule with Ohio State, Michigan State and the rest every year.
ďReal success is leaving a legacy,Ē he tells SI about his time in Piscataway. ďI think we built something, left a legacy and that can be sustained.Ē
But it's clear now he wants to follow the lead of Carroll, who failed twice in the NFL before landing at Southern Cal, and Belichick, who was smart enough to resign as HC of the NYJ after a day to head to New England.
Schiano is going to get another shot, there is no doubt about that, but his career won't survive another failure. He painted a convincing picture of a man who has learned from mistakes Ė and he admitted several Ė and was ready to adapt. Now he'll have to convince an owner or a university president that this is true.
ďI think as a head coach, you have to hold people accountable,Ē Schiano tells SI reporter Pete Thamel. ďBut at the same time, how can I make it easier or better for them to get their job done?Ē
So here comes a new and improved Schiano, refreshed after a year off coaching his teenage sons and learning from the coaches who have failed before him. Carroll. Belichick. The names were chosen for a reason, because it's clear the former Rutgers coach wants to put his name on that short list.
Posted 31 Oct 2014
QuoteChris Johnson Says He's Frustrated With His Role
Chris Johnson told Brian Costello he is upset with his lack of playing time.
Quote"Of course Iím frustrated," Johnson told The Post on Wednesday. "On top of having a limited role, not playing as much as I want to play and then on top of that weíre 1-7. Itís frustrating."
Don't worry, though. Johnson doesn't want to be a distraction.
Quote"I donít want to be a distraction in the locker room," Johnson said. "This situation, Iím pretty sure just like I see it, everybody else sees it. I donít want to be labeled as one of those guys who start controversy or start problems."
Like much of the Jets' activity this offseason, the Johnson signing has not panned out. He's shown that his decline in production was not just about being injured. Johnson has also reportedly not had a great locker room reputation, and now we are seeing that.
At this point it might make sense to release Johnson. He isn't producing for the team. He isn't part of the plan beyond this season (at least he shouldn't be). The Jets aren't good enough to have to put up with guys creating problems like this, and Johnson isn't good enough for the Jets to have to deal with problems like this.
Posted 31 Oct 2014http://www.firejohnidzik.com/
I think this is a new low for a Jets GM. Don't think anyone has ever had a "fire" website before.
Posted 20 Oct 2014
QuoteThe Percy Harvin Saga: How Seattle Lost and the Jets Won
Seattleís stunning trade of Percy Harvin to the Jets on Friday brought a sudden end to what will go down as an ill-fated dalliance. Seattleís fling with Harvin, which cost them $18.3 million, ended with the speedy wide receiver having played just eight games for the Seahawks, in which he caught 27 passes, produced 322 yards from scrimmage, and scored two touchdowns.
One of those touchdowns was his second-half kick return in the Super Bowl, which was his best game in a Seattle uniform, and even that just consisted of the kick return, two jet sweeps for 45 yards, and a 5-yard reception in a game that the Seahawks won by 35 points. Harvin played well, but the Seahawks would have won that game if Pete Carroll returned the second-half kickoff. Harvinís run with Seattle, even given that Super Bowl performance, has to be considered a massive disappointment and a brutal mistake by often-excellent general manager John Schneider.
While a hip injury that virtually wiped out all of Harvinís 2013 season unquestionably didnít help his cause, Harvin flopped in Seattle because the Seahawks never really found a match between their offensive scheme and his talents. I went back and watched each of Harvinís plays as a rusher or receiver from this season and saw the same few concepts: shotgun sweep, jet sweep, shallow cross off the jet sweep motion, quick hitch, screen.1 His only 2014 touchdown came on one of the few exceptions to that bunch, a 51-yard touchdown on a pitch with Harvin lined up as an I-formation tailback.
1. Given how for the last year weíve heard about how much other teams have to practice to prepare for all the things Harvin can do, it was interesting to read after the trade that the Seahawks offensive coordinator either struggled or got tired of game-planning stuff for Harvin.
Virtually every one of Harvinís touches in the passing game came within five yards of the line of scrimmage. I only counted four passes past the sticks to Harvin in five weeks: a deep crossing route that went for 33 yards, an interception on a deep out (on what looked like a coverage misread from Russell Wilson), and a pair of passes negated by penalties, including a 41-yard touchdown pass up the seam, one of three Harvin touchdowns wiped off the board in Washington. Harvin was otherwise never thrown a go route or even a deep curl against teams scared of his speed. Crucially, there was never a play where Wilson improvised, got out of the pocket, and found Harvin for any sort of downfield pass.
It seems unlikely the Seahawks would give up on Harvin this quickly solely for struggling to fit into the offense, which naturally raises questions about whether there were off-field issues. Harvinís past transgressions are numerous, but the Seahawks were surely already aware of those when they acquired him. Reports came out over the weekend that Harvin had gotten into altercations with fellow wideouts Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin, but it also doesnít seem like Harvin was universally regarded as a bad teammate. Adrian Peterson previously described Harvin as the best all-around player heíd ever seen and described his reaction to Harvinís trade out of Minnesota as feeling like ďa kick in the stomach,Ē while a furious Marshawn Lynch almost didnít get on the bus after hearing about this most recent deal.
The Tate story also seems weird, especially given the post-trade narrative that Harvinís arrival and the apparent fight he had with Tate pushed the longtime Seahawks wideout to Detroit in free agency this year. While I donít doubt those now reporting that an altercation occurred, doesnít it seem odd that Harvin could have gotten into a fight with Tate and given him a reported black eye without a single one of the thousands of media at the Super Bowl noticing it or even hearing that it occurred? And if Tate was so upset by the fight, why did he publicly volunteer to take a hometown discount to stay in Seattle after the Super Bowl? Whatever the skirmish was, it doesnít seem to have been very serious.
In all, the trade was likely a combination of factors; the off-field transgressions, offensive mismatches, and future injury concerns wouldnít be enough on their own to give up on Harvin this quickly, but as a package, it might have been enough to convince Schneider and Carroll that the Seahawks were better off moving on. They were probably right to do so, but it was curious to see Seattle lauded for (rightfully) understanding that Harvin was a sunk cost and moving quickly when organizations like the Jets and Raiders are lambasted for cutting disappointing mid-round draft picks before the end of their first year. Itís the same logic, and that one organization is very good at a lot of the other things it does while the other two are not doesnít change that logic.
The move will have financial repercussions for Seattle, both good and bad. The Seahawks donít owe Harvin another dime in real money out of Paul Allenís pockets, but they still owe $7.2 million in cap hits for the signing bonus, which will now accelerate onto their 2015 cap as dead money. Harvinís cap hit for 2015 was originally going to be $12.9 million, so the Seahawks will actually save $5.7 million in cap space next year by making the trade.
Harvinís contract comes off the books altogether from 2016 to 2018, which saves the Seahawks north of $11 million in each of those three seasons. Thatís money they can now apply elsewhere. They were always going to find the $20 million or so per year in space they will need to re-sign Wilson, but this should help the Seahawks keep the likes of Bobby Wagner and Cliff Avril around in the years to come. It also gives Seattle some space to pursue a wideout in free agency next year2 if it feels like Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, and 2014 draft picks Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood arenít enough for Wilson. Future financial flexibility unquestionably played a role in this deal.
2. That might be a dangerous thing, because the Seahawks have struck out miserably on their big-ticket wideout purchases recently. Deion Branch was acquired for a first-round pick, signed to a large extension, got hurt, and was anonymous afterward. T.J. Houshmandzadeh was cut one year into his free-agent pact. Sidney Riceís injuries held him to 1,463 receiving yards in three seasons before being cut. And now Harvin has flopped. Iím mostly kidding (Schneider wasnít even around for some of those moves), but thatís a pretty ugly decade.
For the Jets, meanwhile, itís a great deal. This is exactly why you donít spend to the cap for the sake of winning newspaper inches; you never know what sort of distressed assets are going to hit the market when you least expect it. Itís the same logic and path to how the Ravens have signed Elvis Dumervil and Steve Smith late in free agency over the past two years, or how the 49ers came away with Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson in 2011 when they both failed to get the offers they wanted in free agency.
The difference between spending $10 million on three or four free agents on one-year deals and spending $10 million per year on Harvin is that the free agents the Jets would be signing were likely replacement-level talents, guys whom smart teams find in the bargain bin for the minimum. You canít find a freely available player with Harvinís skills and athleticism. Those players almost always come at a premium.
I say almost always, of course, because this is the rare exception. The Jets only needed to give up a conditional pick, reportedly a sixth-rounder capable of improving to a fourth-rounder if Harvin stays with the Jets past this season, to acquire the receiver. Even more notably, the Jets really arenít incurring much risk. The only guaranteed money left on Harvinís deal is the remaining $6.5 million in base salary left in 2014. After this year, the Jets have Harvin on a four-year, $41.5 million contract that consists solely of base salaries.
If Harvin acts up or the Jets decide they want to move on, they can cut Harvin with no cap repercussions whatsoever. (They can also trade him if he reemerges as a worthwhile weapon and they want to sell high.) Itís a deal that has nothing to do with Rex Ryan or John Idzikís job security; itís simply a smart risk to acquire a guy who was worth in excess of a first-round pick 20 months ago. Harvin is probably going to take some time to adjust to the Jets offense, and theyíre still not going to win a lot of football games, but he can be part of the long-term solution in New York.
As for the Seahawks, they wonít miss the money. What theyíll really rue is the opportunity cost. They traded first-, third-, and seventh-round picks to the Vikings for Harvin, and two of those picks have already made names for themselves: Cornerback Xavier Rhodes is rounding into an above-average starter, while running back Jerick McKinnon has shown flashes of brilliance in his rookie year.
The Seahawks arenít exactly in need of a halfback or a cover corner these days, but they could use another Vikings player: speedy wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, a player commonly compared to Harvin who still would have been on the board at no. 25. The Vikings drafted him at 29. They signed Patterson to a four-year, $7.2 million deal after the draft that locks him up through 2016. Patterson has struggled this year, but heís a cost-controlled asset that allows his team to spend elsewhere. The Seahawks, just to pick one clear example, could have had three more years of Patterson, a third-round pick, and whatever else $10 million in cap space could have bought this year.
As the likes of Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Wilson sign new megadeals, the Seahawks will need more players on rookie contracts who deliver production for a relatively low cost. Itís how the Seahawks built their Super BowlĖwinning team in 2013. Thatís what made this Harvin deal so curious the day it happened; it was adding another high-priced asset to a team that was about to need all the cap space it could muster.
The only way Schneider and Carroll could have justified the move, given the hefty pricetag, is by believing that Harvin was going to be one of the best offensive players in football after arriving in Seattle. He hasnít been anywhere close, and even if the Seahawks had kept him through this year, they probably would have dumped Harvin this offseason after his guaranteed money ran out. It was a bold risk that didnít pay off. That will happen. Sometimes, even the best in the business get it wrong.
Posted 7 Oct 2014
QuoteExplaining the Jets: Yes, They Definitely Have a Plan
by Bill Barnwell on October 7, 2014
Over the past week, Jets general manager John Idzik has come under fire for perceived slights with his work building the 2014 team. A New York Daily News article by Jets beat writer Manish Mehta on Saturday was followed by an embarrassing 31-0 loss in San Diego. Quarterback Geno Smith, Idzikís second-round pick from the 2013 draft, played dismally before being benched, with postgame reports revealing that Smith had missed a team meeting Saturday. All in all, it was a pretty rough weekend for Idzik.
While I wonít pretend the Jets looked remotely competent during their loss to the Chargers, I canít agree that Idzik has made a mess of running his football team during his two-year tenure. There have been missteps, just as there are with any general manager, but Idzik has executed a clear plan that makes a lot of sense. Criticisms of his performance miss the logic behind a number of Idzikís decisions.
Take, for example, the idea that Idzik is somehow frugally holding on to his cap space while Jets fans shell out for some of the most expensive tickets in the league. This isnít late-í90s baseball. Thereís absolutely no relationship between in-stadium ticket prices and team spending; every team in the NFL has more than enough money to spend beyond the salary cap, by virtue of the leagueís massive national television contract. The economics of one simply have nothing to do with the other. The Jets charge a ton for tickets because they think the market will give them a ton for tickets.
Gang Green has just less than $24 million in cap space, the second-largest figure in football behind the Jaguars ($29 million). Itís natural to think in the short term that the Jets would be better if they had committed that $24 million to players in free agency this offseason, but that ignores two simple concepts.
One is the idea of cap rollover ó namely, if the Jets donít spend that $24 million this year, they can roll it over to create more space on next yearís cap. They werenít able to do that this offseason, having carried over just $1.5 million in cap space from 2013, which was below the league median of $2.3 million. While the NFL salary cap next year is estimated to be about $140 million, the Jets will get to spend up to $164 million.
Second is the concept of opportunity cost. Spending that money on players now means youíre unable to carry that money over to the future, when you may very well have better (or more expensive) talent available to pursue. It also takes away roster spots from young players who come through the draft, which is where youíre always going to find the most surplus value to build the most sustainable, effective football team.
Look at Idzikís past and you can see whom heís emulating. Idzik came from Seattle, where the general manager is John Schneider, who comes from the Ted Thompson tree of managers. Thompson-style general managers hoard draft picks, maintain cap flexibility, and generally avoid the middle class of free agency, only occasionally jumping into the water for a big splash. In fact, the only real missteps Schneider has made during his time at the helm in Seattle have come in free agency, as big deals for players like Matt Flynn, Sidney Rice, and Zach Miller have produced disappointing results, while short-term deals for Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril were wildly successful.
With that surely in mind, Idzikís philosophy in free agency has been mostly to stick with short-term, low-risk contracts. He went deep for wideout Eric Decker, filling what even Idzik critics would agree was a massive hole by getting the best free agent available at the position with a five-year, $36.25 million deal. Also, offensive lineman Breno Giacomini signed a four-year, $18 million contract. Otherwise, contracts for veterans like Chris Johnson, Jason Babin, and Michael Vick have all been relatively short, cheap, or both. Thatís not Idzik trying to pinch pennies. Itís Idzik emulating the success of the Seahawks, the Packers, and (although Jets fans might not want to hear it) the Patriots. Bad teams spend to the cap for the sake of spending money.
Idzik had to operate in the low-cost free-agent market because there was very little left in the cupboard when he took over. This was the depth chart in January 2013, shortly before Idzik joined the Jets. It features, by my count, just 17 players who are still on the Jets roster, and most of the departed are veterans who are either done playing football or disappointing on somebody elseís roster. Should Idzik have used the cap space he had to re-sign the likes of Shonn Greene, Austin Howard, or LaRon Landry, who each got ponderously large deals elsewhere?
Itís fair to say many of the short-term stopgaps havenít paid out, and some have embarrassed the team. Mehta cites the off-field issues of players like Kellen Winslow Jr. and Mike Goodson as evidence it was a mistake to sign them, while cornerback Dimitri Patterson bizarrely signed before the 2014 season and had to be released, leaving the Jets perilously thin. Mehta treats David Garrard as a ďnotable acquisition,Ē which is odd for a quarterback who was signed to a one-year deal for the league minimum. In virtually all these cases, Idzik was throwing a short-term solution at the wall and hoping it stuck. Better Vick at $2 million for one year than, say, Josh McCown at two years and $10 million.
Given where the Jets are, thatís not a stupid idea. As I wrote about in the teamís preseason preview, previous general manager Mike Tannenbaum frequently traded up in drafts and used draft picks to acquire veterans, leaving the Jets with virtually nothing on their current roster from their 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 drafts. Idzik surely wants to replace those absent holes with draftees, but it takes time to acquire those picks and develop those players.
And itís hard to say that Idzik has been a subpar drafter. His first selection in 2013, cornerback Dee Milliner, struggled in much the same way most rookie cornerbacks do before suffering a high ankle sprain that has kept him out for virtually all of the 2014 campaign.1 Idzikís other first-rounder, Sheldon Richardson, won defensive rookie of the year. Brian Winters, the teamís third-round pick, has been disappointing at guard. It seems insane to suggest itís time to evaluate Idzikís 12 picks from the 2014 draft beyond noting that itís frustrating to see fourth-rounder Jalen Saunders already released. Idzikís draft record may turn out to be unsatisfactory, but itís far too soon to tell.2
1. Thereís been a fair amount of criticism of Izdik for not adding more to the secondary in a free-agent market that was full of defensive backs, but you can understand what he was thinking. Idzik let go of Antonio Cromartie, who Mehta says was playing at a Pro Bowl level before Saturday, but Cro was burned to a crisp by the Broncos last week. Idzik had just used a first-round pick on Milliner, who was expected to take the typical big leap forward in his second year. Idzik eventually used his 2014 first-round pick on Louisville safety Calvin Pryor, and he did sign Patterson. Who could have known that Patterson, with no record of bizarre decisions, would disappear two weeks before the season? Now, should Izdik have signed Brandon Flowers? Ö Yeah, probably.
2. His reticence in giving out big-money free-agent contracts helped this offseason, when the Jets picked up four compensatory picks (a fourth-rounder and three sixth-rounders) from the leagueís free-agent system. Baltimore perennially dominates that market, but itís a place you constantly see smart teams adding value.
Look at the depth chart of the Seahawks from October 1 of Schneiderís second year with the team as a sign of how much work still had to be done. Schneider had already acquired Marshawn Lynch, but Lynch was a mess who didnít break out until later in the 2011 season. Richard Sherman was just a fifth-round pick who hadnít started an NFL game. The likes of Aaron Curry and Marcus Trufant were still hanging out in serious roles on the roster, while veteran fill-ins like Robert Gallery and Alan Branch would play meaningful roles that year.
Most notably, pay attention to the most important spot of all: quarterback. Schneider surely knew he wasnít going to win a ton of football games with Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback, even after making the mistake of trading a third-round pick and swapping second-round picks to acquire Whitehurst from the Chargers.
Instead of spending to the limit to try to squeeze a 9-7 season out of a football team with no prayer of going far in the playoffs, Schneider maintained flexibility, trusted his ability to draft and develop talent, and waited for the right quarterback opportunity to come. Eventually he found Russell Wilson, and the rest is history.
The truth for Idzik and the Jets right now is that it doesnít matter what they do elsewhere in terms of winning now without a quarterback. Theyíre bad enough at that position that the other moves they make are just window dressing ó a series of short-term decisions and drafted lottery tickets to set them up for that moment when they actually have the quarterback they need to succeed. Thatís not what Rex Ryan or Jets fans want to hear, but itís the reality of where theyíre at in the NFL. Idzik still has to execute that plan, and it wonít matter until he finds that quarterback, but heís on the right track.
As for Ryan and the Jets? Expectations were likely too high coming into the season. The Jets were 8-8 last year, but they were outscored by 97 points, which is the point differential of a 5.4-win team. That win-loss record included an unsustainable 5-1 performance in games decided by a touchdown or less, including two miraculous wins driven by unlikely late-game penalties on the Buccaneers and Patriots. The Jets already had two seven-point losses and an eight-point loss on their rťsumť this year before Sundayís blowout. If they had enjoyed just an average amount of luck in close games last year and gone 5-11, Ryan probably would have been fired. Now, regardless of what Idzik does, Ryan will probably suffer that fate.
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