Sunday, November 10, 2013
John Idzik's midseason grade: B+
By Rich Cimini
Now, finally, it's time to give general manager John Idzik a midseason report card.
Comment: If we graded on the quality and quantity of his news conferences, Idzik would be in danger of failing. But that's not his job; his job is to procure talent. The bottom line is, Idzik has changed the culture of the organization (a transition that caused many growing pains) and has fielded a competitive team in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year. It's important to note that Idzik has accomplished much of it with the holdover staff from the Mike Tannenbaum administration, many of whom he jettisoned after the draft. He's on his own now.
Five takeaways on Idzik's performance:
1. The Revis blockbuster: The idea to trade cornerback Darrelle Revis came down from owner Woody Johnson; it was Idzik's job to execute the deal. Considering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the only interested team, Idzik did well to get first- and third-round picks for the injured star. The Jets would be a better team this season with Revis -- duh -- but it was never about 2013. Wood-zik assessed his signability, the cap situation and the team's current talent level, deciding the Jets would be better in the long term if they moved their best player. It was the right call.
2. Strength in numbers: The Jets have five rookies in the starting lineup -- QB Geno Smith, LG Brian Winters, FB Tommy Bohanon, DT Sheldon Richardson and CB Dee Milliner. In terms of numbers, this could be their deepest draft in 30-plus years. The problem is that only one rookie -- Richardson -- has demonstrated star quality. Milliner, chosen ninth overall, still is a question mark. It would be a major miss if he doesn't pan out. My other issue with the draft is that it didn't add any firepower to the offense. Of course, years from now, Idzik's first draft will be defined by Smith. If he becomes a winning quarterback, it will be deemed a rousing success. If not ...
3. The Richardson pick: This was considered a luxury pick because the Jets had drafted defensive linemen in the previous two first rounds, but Idzik listened to his scouts and truly selected the best available athlete. Richardson was rated among the top four players on their draft board, so Idzik jumped at the chance to grab him at No. 13 (from the Revis trade). It took conviction to go defense-defense with the first two picks, especially with all the needs on offense, but Idzik approached it like a man with a long-term plan.
4. Offseason misses: Idzik didn't distinguish himself in free agency. In fact, only two free-agent additions are full-time contributors -- RG Willie Colon and S Dawan Landry. Idzik made a mess with RB Mike Goodson and he overestimated QB David Garrard, whose tally sheet consists of one short-lived retirement and no offensive snaps. RB Chris Ivory, Idzik's biggest offseason acquisition (via trade), took two months to get warmed up. Fortunately for him, Idzik didn't waste any big bucks on his misses; he took the cheap approach on his first foray into free agency. That should change next year, when they can clear $16.5 million by unloading QB Mark Sanchez and WR Santonio Holmes.
5. Adjusting on the fly: Because of injuries, the Jets have used a league-high 29 players on offense. It's not easy to acquire capable fill-ins during the season, but Idzik has patched holes with the likes of WR David Nelson, WR/KR Josh Cribbs, TE Zach Sudfeld and WR Greg Salas. I give most of the credit to the coaching staff for assimilating the new players on the fly, but give Idzik some props for finding the bodies amid the NFL scrap heap.