Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Rex, Woody will speak ... Tuesday
By Rich Cimini
Call it one last delay-of-game penalty for the mistake-prone Jets.
The organization, under fire for not making owner Woody Johnson and Rex Ryan available to discuss the season and the firing of GM Mike Tannenbaum, announced Wednesday that Johnson and Ryan will conduct a "season-ending" news conference on Tuesday.
By waiting that long, the Jets will be in violation of the league's media policy, which states that the coach and a team official must conduct a news conference during the week after the season ends. The NFL will look into the matter, a league spokesman said.
By then, the Jets will be a few days into their general-manager search. In fact, the interviews are slated to begin Friday and run through the weekend. There is no chance they will have a new GM by Tuesday's news conference. The process could take up to three or four weeks.
Even though Johnson indicated in a statement Monday that Ryan will be back as coach, the delay has fueled speculation about his future. Ryan told the team Monday morning he will be back and, according to sources, he gave no indication in his Monday staff meeting that he's plotting an exit strategy. Ryan gave the coaching staff off until Monday. In fact, Ryan is out of town on vacation, sources said. Deadspin reported that he's in the Bahamas.
"Everyone is in limbo," one source said.
Another source described Ryan as "anxious" because of the uncertainty surrounding the organization. Even though he received a public vote of confidence from Johnson, albeit in a press release, Ryan has concerns because he won't have any input in the GM interviews, sources said. Ryan could end up working for a stranger, knowing he will be in a make-or-break situation next year.
Ryan is supposed to have control over the coaching staff, yet offensive coordinator Tony Sparano -- who reportedly will be fired -- twists in the wind. Ryan told his staff his hands are tied until they hire a new GM, one source said -- an indication that Ryan's power over his staff is frozen.
Chances are, the organization wants the new GM to have the ability to sign off on hirings and firings. Assistant coaches without contracts for 2013 include Matt Cavanaugh (quarterbacks), Mike Pettine (defensive coordinator) and Mike Westhoff (special teams), who is retiring.
The Jets could've avoided a lot of bad publicity by tying up the loose ends Monday and having Ryan and Johnson address the media in the aftermath of the Tannenbaum firing. Johnson was in the building Monday to fire Tannenbaum, but it was an unexpected appearance by the owner. He was out of town (that explains his no-show in Buffalo) and wasn't expected back until Thursday, sources said.
Johnson returned from his undisclosed destination, fired Tannenbaum, addressed the organization, and apparently returned to wherever he was. On Thursday, he will be back for the all-important GM interviews.
So far, confirmed candidates include Tom Gamble (49ers), Dave Caldwell (Falcons), Tom Heckert (ex-Browns GM), Marc Ross (Giants) and Scott Cohen (Jets).