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
Posted in Randy Lange | 268 Comments »
Super Bowl Week officially began today in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas. It’s a busy time in the NFL as the Pro Bowl was played Sunday in Honolulu, Hawaii, the Senior Bowl wrapped up with its game Saturday in Mobile, Ala., the 2011 Hall of Fame Class will be unveiled this Saturday at the Super Bowl Media Center in Dallas, and then the title game will take place on Sunday.
“We’ve kind of turned the page and tried to move forward for the 2011 season,” said GM Mike Tannenbaum.
That’s not lip service when you consider the Jets’ college scouting staff will arrive in Florham Park, N.J., on Sunday for 11 days of meetings to review thousands of pages of information on prospects. VP of College Scouting Joey Clinkscales will lead his team on an exhaustive pre-combine evaluation as the Jets will review every draftable prospect from Feb. 7-21.
For each draftable player, scouts who visited a player’s school will read their individual reports and then it’s decided if there is some grade discrepancy and more reports are needed. While grades can change some after the NFL Combine and subsequent pro days, the truest test of all remains the tape.
Even though the NFL’s current labor deal is set to expire on March 3, we can assure you that the combine, beginning Feb. 23, and the ’11 draft, commencing April 28, will run as scheduled. The top senior prospects clashed Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile as the South topped the North, 24-10. Christian Ponder, a Florida State product hoping to impress, threw for two TDs and 132 yards to earn game MVP honors.
In addition to Ponder, here are the names of a few players who impressed onlookers with their play in the last week:
Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M — Looks to be a sure-fire Top 10 pick (the Jets are scheduled to select No. 30 overall). Is there something that he can’t do? This explosive talent is a tremendous pass rusher who amassed 27.5 sacks the past two seasons. He covers a lot of ground and moves well in coverage.
Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor — An enormous dude at 6’4”, 337, he is considered more of a late bloomer who is stout at the point of attack. Not going to shock you with pass rush moves, but this space eater can push ahead with the bull rush.
Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami — After leading the ‘Canes with 45 receptions and six receiving TDs, the 6’2”, 205-pounder displayed good hands throughout the week and ended on a high with five receptions for 101 yards and one TD in the game.
Ryan Kerrigan, DE/OLB, Purdue — Pass rushers don’t grow on trees, so don’t expect Kerrigan to be waiting long before his name is called on draft night. Nicknamed “Superman” for his strength/effort combination, Kerrigan turns the corner in no time.
Gabe Carimi, OL, Wisconsin — In his latest mock draft, NFLDraftScout.com’s Rob Rang has the Green & White selecting Carimi. The big 6’7”, 315-pounder, who played tackle for the Badgers, worked some inside at guard during the week.
Vincent Brown, WR, San Diego State — Productive as he led the Aztecs in receptions (69), yards (1,352) and touchdowns. Solid route runner who helped his stock with an impressive showing.
Cameron Jordan, DE, California — A very strong end, Jordan is considered a complete package because he can rush the passer and is stout at the point of attack.
Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State — Sure, Hunter’s only 5’7”, but he’s got big game. He rushed for 1,548 yards last season with 16 rush TDs for the Cowboys’ prolific attack. Deadly in space and a good pass protector to boot, he could draw some comparisons to Leon Washington.
Lots of debate continues to rage on about Washington QB Jake Locker. An elite athlete who returned to UW for his senior season, Locker struggled with his consistency and wasn’t as sharp as some would like from inside the pocket.
Scouts Inc., on its latest Big Board, ranks UCLA underclassman S Rahim Moore as the 30th top prospect. The Jets could have as many as three unrestricted free agents at safety and Moore had 14 career interceptions for the Bruins.
CNNSI.com’s Don Banks thinks the Jets could opt to get a little younger on the defensive line and has them grabbing Illinois DT Corey Liuget in his latest mock. Mel Kiper, the most famous draftnik of them all, also has the Jets targeting the D-line — Temple DE Muhammad Wilkerson, a Linden, N.J., native, led the Owls with 9.5 sacks and 13 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
NFLDraftScout.com’s Chad Reuter has the Jets taking another underclassman in his latest mock — Pittsburgh WR Joe Baldwin. New York’s AFC representative didn’t do that bad the last time it selected an Aliquippa High School alum. That would be Darrelle Revis.
Back on the Pro Front
Speaking of Revis, he joined T D’Brickashaw Ferguson out in Hawaii last week for the Pro Bowl festivities. Revis had good coverage on Larry Fitzgerald on one of Michael Vick’s first-quarter long balls, while Ferguson saw a lot of time on the right side, locking up with Justin Tuck of the crosstown Giants. The AFC actually outscored the NFC, 41-13, over the game’s final 32 minutes but lost, 55-41, because it fell behind, 42-0, in the first 28 minutes. No injuries to report, so that’s a good thing.
Later this week, newyorkjets.com editor-in-chief Randy Lange will be in Dallas to cover the unveiling of the Hall of Fame Class of 2011. Curtis Martin, who is the fourth-leading rusher in NFL history with 14,101 yards and who became the oldest runner (31) to claim a rushing title (1,694 yards, 2004 season), is a finalist for the first time.
Tags: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Darrelle Revis, Gabe Carimi, Joey Clinkscales, Leonard Hankerson, Mike Tannenbaum, Phil Taylor, Pro Bowl, Ryan Kerrigan, Senior Bowl, Super Bowl, Von Miller
Posted in Eric Allen | 6 Comments »
The first week of the Jets’ offseason is under way as the Green & White have a large contingent of scouts at the Senior Bowl proceedings down in Mobile, Ala. The NFL’s annual draft will take place April 28-30 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, but nobody knows when free agency will begin as the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire on March 3.
When an agreement is eventually reached, the Jets potentially could have as many as 17 unrestricted free agents. They had just seven UFAs last year because only players who had been in the league six years or more qualified for free agency. But that number had always been four years in the past and the six-year model, which rendered hundreds of players restricted rather than unrestricted free agents in 2010, is expected revert to its old standard.
If that’s the case, the Jets UFA list would stand at 17 and would include QB Kellen Clemens, CB Drew Coleman, CB Antonio Cromartie, WR Braylon Edwards, DE Shaun Ellis, K Nick Folk, ILB David Harris, WR Santonio Holmes, T Wayne Hunter, S James Ihedigbo, LB Lance Laury, S Brodney Pool, DL Trevor Pryce, FB Tony Richardson, WR Brad Smith, S Eric Smith and P Steve Weatherford.
Only Rob Turner, with three accrued seasons, would be an RFA, meaning the Jets could place a tender on the veteran lineman and protect themselves from losing him by earning the right to match another team’s contract offer and/or guaranteeing compensation in return for his departure.
Six of the aforementioned 17 possible UFAs — Edwards, Ellis, Hunter, Pool, Pryce and Richardson — will have at least six accrued seasons on their résumés so you can definitely pen them in as unrestricted. The only catch here is the Jets are free to conduct normal contract negotiations with any of these players until the current CBA expires.
But there are limitations that include the 30 percent rule and a possible return of the salary cap. It should also be noted that there is no guarantee that a cap, which placed not only a ceiling but a floor on teams’ spending, will return.
“You still have budgets you have to hit,” said GM Mike Tannenbaum on the prospect of no cap before free agency commenced in ’10. “You still have targets that you have to be at.”
Tannenbaum and the Jets’ brass are already hard at work with the goal of getting the Jets to Indianapolis and Super Bowl XLVI after two consecutive appearances in the AFC Championship Game. Once a new CBA is reached, they’ll have to make a number of interesting decisions …
“Hitman” Harris is one of the NFL’s top linebackers and his teammates voted him the Curtis Martin Team MVP. His 119 tackles in ’10 led the Jets for the third time in four seasons and he also added three sacks. The Jets like to keep their young stars in house as evidenced by the recent extensions of D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold and Darrelle Revis.
Will it be possible to keep both Edwards and Holmes? If not, which playmaker will the Jets attempt to lock down?
Are Kyle Wilson and Vladimir Ducasse ready for prime time?
Wilson, selected No. 29 overall out of Boise State last April, and Ducasse, the club’s second -round pick (No. 61 overall) out of UMass, could be in line for prominent roles in 2011. Cromartie had a solid season as the Jets’ No. 2 corner, but he could command a big deal on the open market and Wilson could pair up with the NFL’s top corner, Darrelle Revis, on the outside.
Hunter played very well down the stretch and he could find some suitors. Ducasse is a raw talent who will benefit from a year under his belt under coach Bill Callahan. Speaking of Coach Cally, lots of folks were worried about what the Jets would do at LG after Alan Faneca moved on. Matt Slauson performed pretty well, didn’t he?
Is the Big Katt still prowling in Florham Park come 2011? Shaun Ellis, whose 72.5 regular-season sacks rank third in franchise history, can still play at a high level as we saw in his dominant performance in the Jets’ AFC Divisional Round win over the Patriots.
Jim Leonhard is under contract, but the Jets’ postseason starting safety pair — Smith and Pool — are both set to become UFAs.
The versatile Brad Smith, who played a big role on offense and was the NFL’s second-leading KR man, is on the list of UFAs as well. He joins K Nick Folk and P Steve Weatherford in the special teams conversation.
There are lots of questions that will be answered in due time for this Super Bowl contender. Tannenbaum is scheduled to hold a season ending conference call with the media on Friday.
Tags: Brad Smith, David Harris, NFL Draft, offseason, Senior Bowl
Posted in Eric Allen | 53 Comments »