Lupica: Jets GM John Idzik may have talked his way out of town

By on October 29, 2014

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John Idzik may have done something rather amazing on Monday with his midseason report on himself and the mess that has become the New York Jets season: He may have begun talking his way right out of town. He started around 1:30 in the afternoon before taking any questions. By the time he walked out of the media room he seemed to have turned himself into a lame-duck general manager.

For weeks the conversation has been about who the next coach of the Jets will be. Idzik single-handedly changed that conversation on Monday. He is the one who put his own job status into question if the Jets don’t dramatically turn things around, and right now. The media didn’t do that. It never does. Idzik did it to himself.

Go back and read everything that Idzik said, starting with his own evaluation of his own job performance.

Read back over an endorsement of Rex Ryan that really wasn’t an endorsement at all. Read his assessment of all the fight he says this Jets team has in it, fight only the general manager is apparently seeing. And then ask the same question Woody Johnson has to be asking himself:

How do the Jets go forward with this man picking the players and, most likely, picking the new coach?

Think about it: What offensive or defensive coordinator looking to make a big move into a big job — and coaching a team with “New York” in its name will always be a big job — wants to throw in or throw down with a general manager who might be on his way out the door in a year?

It is unclear whether Idzik was in real trouble with his owner before he faced the media in Florham Park. No one is suggesting his fate is sealed. Give Idzik every benefit of the doubt, talk about how a season-and-a-half isn’t a proper referendum on whether or not Idzik has the chops to do this kind of job in the National Football League. You can say, one more time, and with feeling, that any general manager has the right to pick his own coach, something Idzik will surely get to do if he lasts.

But once and for all: What has Idzik done so far to make Woody or any Jets fan — and especially any Jets fan paying PSL prices — think that you can hand over another season to him, or two, or three? Another question Woody Johnson has to ask himself, watching his team’s performance and his general manager’s on Monday, is this:

Do you turn over as many years to your general manager as you did to a failed quarterback such as Mark Sanchez?

Having John Idzik as your GM is kind of like having Geno Smith as your quarterback.Alex Goodlett/Getty Images Having John Idzik as your GM is kind of like having Geno Smith as your quarterback.

We talk all the time about how if you give the ball to the wrong young quarterback the way the Jets did with Sanchez, and are doing with Geno Smith, you are setting your program back years. It is as much of a football disaster to be wrong about a general manager. And what makes Woody Johnson think he’s right about Idzik?

Certainly this could all change if the Jets show some life, and Geno Smith shows some game, over the second half of the season. Maybe Eric Decker does something and Calvin Pryor does something and Percy Harvin lights up November and December. Maybe Rex’s defense, even without cornerbacks, shows you the ability to get a big stop, and to let the other team stop scoring touchdowns on third down. Raise a hand if you think all that is going to happen.

And even if the Jets somehow have enough rope to get back to 6-10 or 7-9, where are they, really, if they are starting all over again next season with a new coach and a new quarterback?

When it was all over on Monday, the feeling about Idzik was that he couldn’t decide whether he wanted Jets fans to like him or feel sorry for him. What he certainly did not do was inspire any confidence in his fan base, give that fan base any sense that there is some kind of plan here, a real vision for the future; that the general manager Woody Johnson hired has it in him to build a real contender, or even the first Super Bowl the team has had in nearly half-a-century.

Jets fans know the deal by now: Soon they will be hearing about January of 1969 the way New York Rangers fans used to obsess about 1940 before Mark Messier came to town.

Woody Johnson is the one who helped create this situation by making Idzik keep Rex Ryan rather than allow him to pick his own coach when he got the job. So the owner is the one who has to own this. But in fairness, Johnson has not been a terrible owner here. The Jets have not been the New York Jaguars. He was right about Rex Ryan, at least in the short run. Now he has to take a longer view of what is happening to the Jets, ask himself whether he really believes he picked the right general manager to replace Mike Tannenbaum.

The Jets’ season is lost already. What Johnson has to worry about at this point is losing fans, the ones Idzik tried to reference on Monday, the ones he’s met between the ages of 5 and 75. He tried to tell all of them he shares their pain. They weren’t buying. You wonder who buys PSLs going forward.

Ask yourself one last question about the Jets and the man in charge of fixing a mess he has helped create:

What bothered you more if you’re a Jets fan, the game against the Bills on Sunday, or that press conference on Monday?

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