New York Jets  

 

Tim Tebow's exit latest strong move by New York Jets' John Idzik

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- He traded Darrelle Revis and just drafted the New York Jets' quarterback of the future, but it might be a 130-word Monday morning press release that tells us the most about how John Idzik operates.

"The New York Jets have waived Tim Tebow," read the first sentence of the email, providing a quiet stamp on a thoroughly botched, noisy and embarrassing 13-month experiment. Coach Rex Ryan was the only person quoted. "Unfortunately," Ryan said, in wishing Tebow well, "things did not work out the way we all had hoped."

Goodbye and good luck, Tim Tebow. Nice and tidy. Under Idzik, the first-year general manager of the New York Jets, the circus certainly appears to have left town.

Jets fans, it's been a heck of a week, hasn't it?

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We're all still learning about Idzik, of course. And, as it turns out, the scouting report on him was only partially complete.

Yes, as a first-time general manager, Idzik has shown himself to be cautious, calculating, thoughtful. And smart -- he's an Ivy Leaguer (Dartmouth '82). His handshake is firm, as are his football convictions. In terms of decision-making, he personifies "deliberate."

What we've also learned about Idzik is ultimately more significant: He is unafraid of the bold move -- such as selecting quarterback Geno Smith with the 39th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft -- but will offer little substantive public introspection after making it. And he will deliver a secondary message with the figurative force of a roundhouse kick.

In dealing Revis and drafting Smith, Idzik carried out decisions that will define his tenure, however long it might last. They already have altered the Jets' course as a franchise for the foreseeable future.

As for that message? In taking Smith, Idzik conveyed it with clarity -- and no forewarning -- to four-year starter Mark Sanchez: The gig, almost certainly, is up. And that's whether Sanchez, guaranteed $8.25 million this year, holds a clipboard for the Jets in 2013 or not.

Little by little, we see more of the dynamic between Idzik and Ryan, who is coaching for his job this season. Idzik describes their relationship as "fantastic" and emphasizes that all Jets decisions are "collaborative." Ryan respects Idzik, who also grew up in a football family and is also the son of a coach.

It was Idzik who made the final call on every draft pick, including the Jets' first-rounders, cornerback Dee Milliner at No. 9 and defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson at No. 13. With two precious picks at the front end of the draft, Idzik added two defensive players to a roster starved for offensive firepower.

Ryan clearly endorsed acquiring help for his defense (as he always does; the Jets have used first-round picks on defensive players in four consecutive drafts). However, in the opening moments of a news conference Thursday night, he also said, "You can't blame this one on me."

Ryan was smiling. But he was also suggesting that Idzik's calling the shots. All of them.

Idzik was a complete unknown in the metropolitan area four months ago. Now, he and his decisions dot the back -- and front -- pages of New York tabloids. It's been quite an inauguration.

"They are obviously highly visible moves; they are big moves for our organization," Idzik said after the draft. "I liken it to anything else in football. You're going to have certain things to react to, certain things to make decisions on, and those came about.

"We felt like we were prepared to do it and, looking back on it, I feel like, all of those things considered, I feel like we made the right moves for the New York Jets."

That's about as close to being an open book as Idzik gets in news conferences.

Asked if he had thought about using a first-round pick on an offensive player who could be a game-changer -- the Jets would have selected receiver Tavon Austin had the St. Louis Rams not traded up to take him eighth overall -- Idzik provided this window into his talent evaluator's soul: "You're tempted, but you're not going to succumb to temptation. You're going to stick with what you believe in."

Milliner, who is coming off shoulder surgery, was a terrific cornerback at Alabama, recording 22 passes defensed in 2012, tied for the most in college football. He will be expected to replace Revis, though Idzik objected to that notion, saying it is "unfair" to Milliner. Of course, that's an argument Idzik has to know he will lose, at least by virtue of the world that is not gainfully employed at 1 Jets Drive.

Yet, it is not Milliner -- or even Richardson, who was selected with the pick New York received from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for Revis -- who represents the signature of Idzik's first draft as a general manager.

That designation goes to Smith, whose time is coming. It's just a matter of when.

By rescuing the free-falling Smith on Friday, Idzik also stamped an imprint on these Jets that will last for years, for good or bad. The immediate possibilities for Smith appear to be two-fold: He either opens as the Week 1 starter or is inserted as soon as the season heads toward hopelessness. Which, frankly, also could happen in September.

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"Our plan for Geno is to compete," Idzik said. He offered similarly ambiguous sentiments about Sanchez, not even assuring that he will be a Jet come training camp. Should the Jets choose to release Sanchez -- leaving David Garrard as Smith's chief competition -- it would come with a significant (more than $12 million) salary-cap consequence.

Ryan, who has stayed quiet during most of the news conferences held since Idzik's arrival in January, has the unenviable task of trying to keep his job while managing a rookie quarterback, the Sanchez situation and a roster still filled with more holes than playmakers.

After the draft ended -- between the third round Friday and Saturday's rounds, the Jets added three offensive linemen and a fullback -- the Jets' main decision-makers sat for another news conference.

Idzik did most of the talking, by far. At one point, a less-than-robust Ryan veered off-topic to offer the following: "In fact, I think our football team, since I've been here as a head coach, has actually won more playoff games than the New England Patriots. I'm just throwing that out there. It feels like it gets lost."

Yes, it surely does. Ryan's message sounded different than it has in the past -- a bit hollow, almost as if he were talking to his new boss as much as to the assembled media.

It's as if even he knows that it is a new dawn for the New York Jets. And there's no doubt about this: John Idzik is running the show.

Follow Kimberly Jones on Twitter @KimJonesSports.

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