The fact that the Jets would be making big changes this offseason was no secret even before the team officially fell out of playoff contention and they didn't try to build up any suspense.
Jets owner Woody Johnson released a statement a little after 9 a.m. on Monday morning announcing that general manager Mike Tannenbaum would not be returning to the team in 2013. Johnson also announced that Rex Ryan would remain as head coach for a fifth season.
"This morning, I informed Mike Tannenbaum that he will not return for the 2013 season. Mike devoted 15 years of service to the Jets, and I want to thank him for his hard work and dedication. Although he helped guide us to two consecutive AFC Championship games, we are not where we want to be, and a new General Manager will be critical to getting this team back on the right track," Johnson said in the statement. "Rex Ryan will remain the Head Coach of our football team. I believe that he has the passion, the talent, and the drive to successfully lead our team."
The latter part was not particularly surprising. Occasional rumor aside, there was never any real indication that Ryan would be sent packing after his first losing season with the Jets.
He has certainly been part of the epic butchery of the offense over the last two years, but, honestly, it's kinda remarkable that he was able to get even six wins out of a team with as little talent as the Jets brought to the table in 2012. Give Ryan an offense with a chance to compete and a coordinator capable of putting them in position to succeed (there's been no official word on Tony Sparano's future, but he's got as much chance of returning to the team as Tim Tebow) and then make a judgment on a guy that took you to two AFC title games in his first two seasons.
Tannenbaum had a hand in that as well, of course, but his fingerprints were all over the disaster that unfolded for the Jets this season. He was the one who extended Mark Sanchez and locked the team into an untenable quarterback situation as a result, he guaranteed money to fading players like Bart Scott that strangled the Jets' cap and he's the one who has drafted very few impact players in the last four years.
All of those moves have left the Jets terribly short on talent and, more alarmingly, almost devoid of young talent that can provide a core to build around in the coming years. While we have no doubt that Johnson pushed for a win-now, damn the salary cap approach in the last few years, Tannenbaum still deserves to face the blame for failing to implement it in a winning manner.
The Jets have hired a search firm (the same one that helped place John Schneider in Seattle as general manager few years ago) to help them find Tannenbaum's replacement. We'd push for someone with a strong personnel/scouting background.
As mentioned, Tannenbaum leaves the team with cap issues and a dearth of talent. That's going to require a nimble, creative mind who can patch holes without breaking the bank in much the same way that the Colts did before this season to return to the playoffs after having the worst record in football in 2011.
Such a turnaround is possible for the Jets (and every other team in the league, for that matter) and it starts on Monday. Welcome to the offseason.