Most of us football fans outside the Pacific Northwest would have to admit to not having much familiarity with John Idzik, the Jets’ new general manager announced by the team late this afternoon. But many fans, especially Jets followers of a certain age, at least have heard the name for a while.
John Idzik the elder was in fact a veteran NFL man, an assistant coach who made five stops with four Northeast teams, including the Jets, from the mid-Sixties into the Eighties. And more than three decades after giving the Green & White a respectable and improving offense in the late Seventies, he can smile proudly that his son, 52, is now taking on an even bigger job than he had way back when in spiffing up Richard Todd and Matt Robinson for their late Seventies competition to run the Jets offense.
We haven’t met the younger Idzik yet and likely won’t until he’s introduced to reporters and fans next Thursday. But we have a few facts and trivia that point to the quality of the hire that owner Woody Johnson, with help from Jed Hughes and Korn/Ferry, has announced.
■ Everywhere Idzik goes, winning programs break out soon after. He joined the Buccaneers in 1993 and they went 5-11. But they built under Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden to five playoff berths in six years from 1997-02, crowned by the Bucs’ Super Bowl XXXVII win over Oakland. His three years at Arizona from 2004-06 were three losing seasons under Denny Green, but Ken Whisenhunt took over in ’07 and by ’09 the Cards were NFC champions and Super Bowl participants. With the Seahawks, Idzik’s first season was 10-6, then came four losing seasons, then came this year’s 11-5 resurgence in Seattle.
“John is a well-respected lifelong football man,” ‘Hawks GM John Schneider said this evening, “who I believe will be a strong addition to the Jets organization.”
■ Is he a cap guy? He graduated from Dartmouth magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in mathematics and has put it to use ever since. His main role with the Seahawks has been described as being their salary cap guy who oversaw player negotiations, cap compliance, player personnel transactions, football operations budgets, staff and team contracts and team travel.
■ Is he a personnel guy? That is already a burning question for fans and media and will continue to be on through next Thursday’s news conference to introduce Idzik. He will explain his experience far better than I can from limited research, but yes, he has personnel experience as well. He was a pro personnel assistant, director of football administration and assistant GM with the Bucs, and his Seattle bio stresses that besides all the admin stuff he did for them, he also remained “active in player evaluations.” Before the pros he coached at Duke, SUNY Buffalo and for the Aberdeen, as in Scotland, Oilers of the BAFL, as in the British American Football League.
■ Idzik’s first coaching assignment came as the receivers coach at SUNY Buffalo in ’82. His second was as the offensive backfield coach for Aberdeen in ’90. What did he do in between? He was a programming projects manager and systems engineer for IBM, working in White Plains, N.Y., Atlanta and Tampa.
■ A little more about those bloodlines that no doubt interested Johnson and head coach Rex Ryan: The Jets have had two league-leading rushing attacks since joining the NFL in 1970. The last time was 2009, Ryan’s first year as head coach. The first time was 1979, Idzik Sr.’s last season as the OC.
And we don’t know if Idzik’s first official duties as Jets general manager will incorporate some work at next week’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., but it would be another circle closed as his father served as one of the OC’s in the 1978 Senior Bowl.
■ Word is that Ryan wasn’t part of the GM evaluation. However, Ryan did meet with Idzik and fellow candidate Omar Khan of the Steelers to discuss football philosophy during the interview process.
None of this necessarily tells us much about what the start of the Idzik administration will look like. But we’ll get all the input we need in the coming days, weeks and months as a new, energetic, tireless executive with ties to the Jets’ past sets to work on the Jets’ future.
Tags: John Idzik, Matt Robinson, Rex Ryan, Richard Todd, Senior Bowl, Woody Johnson
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