Sunday, January 13, 2013
Sunday notes: A mass Rex-odus
By Rich Cimini
Quick takes on the Jets and the NFL:
1. Coaches on the run: Rex Ryan has always talked about being surrounded by such a talented coaching staff. Don't look now, Rex, but your staff is half gone. All told, there have been eight changes since the end of the season, including three coordinators, three position coaches and two assistant position coaches.
The key names: OC Tony Sparano and Matt Cavanaugh (QBs) were fired, Mike Westhoff (special teams) retired, DC Mike Pettine made a lateral move to the Bills, Bob Sutton (LBs) left to become the Chiefs' defensive coordinator and Jim O'Neil (assisant DBs) followed Pettine to Buffalo. There could be more changes once a new offensive coordinator is hired.
The only curious move is Pettine; the others were either fired or left for better jobs. Once Sutton was passed over for the defensive-coordinator position -- secondary Dennis Thurman got the nod -- he started looking elsewhere. Let's not be naive here: The uncertainty surrounding the team also is a factor. As one league source told me, "It's not the most stable situation over there."
It could impact the team in 2013, as the Jets will have at least two first-time coordinators -- Ben Kotwica, Westhoff's replacement, and Dennis Thurman, the expected choice to replace Pettine. For the first time in the Ryan era, "continuity" is a hollow word.
2. On the money: By the way, Westhoff is right, the Tim Tebow situation was an "absolute mess." Sadly, the New York experience may have done irreparable harm to his NFL reputation. It will be tough to find a job next season.
3. No bean counters, please: If you're keeping score at home, the interview count to find a new GM has reached double digits -- 10. That includes two new names, Montreal Alouettes GM Jim Popp and Packers VP of football administration/player finance Russ Ball, both of whom reportedly interviewed. Ball is one of three known candidates from the cap/contract side of the football operation, as opposed to scouting and personnel.
Don't go there, Woody Johnson. The Jets need a football man in the GM chair, not a numbers guru. They need someone with a sharp eye for talent and team building, a person who can restock a roster that has deteriorated over the last two seasons. If they hire someone from the business side, "it would be like voting Republican after Nixon," said one league source, alluding to the perception that former GM Mike Tannenbaum was of the same ilk.
4. Return of the Jed-i: Obviously, Jed Hughes, the head hunter leading the GM search, will have a lot of influence in the decision. So what do we know about Mr. Hughes? He has an affinity for the Packers. He led the search team that hired Packers president Mark Murphy, and he did the same for the Seahawks when they hired GM John Schneider, a former Packers exec. This could bode well for Ball. The Jets expressed interest in Packers director of football operations John Dorsey, but he was hired Saturday night by the Chiefs.
Hughes, a former Steelers assistant coach, also happens to be friends with Steelers director of business and football administration Omar Khan, who interviewed for the Jets' vacancy. They have Western-Pennsylvania ties. Hughes also got Khan an interview for the Seattle job that went to Schneider. Interesting.
5. Khan and Cowher: If Khan lands the job, the Bill Cowher-to-the-Jets-in-2014 speculation will commence immediately. Oh, sure, Cowher issued a statement Saturday, saying he has no desire to leave CBS (a few days after telling Newsday he'd like to coach again), but does anybody really believe that will stop the Jets talk? Come on. Khan and Cowher are tight from their days together in Pittsburgh. It would be a tough season for Ryan if he has to coach under that cloud.
6. Thanks, but no thanks: The Jets reached out to former Chargers GM A.J. Smith to gauge his interest, but it never got anywhere and no interview was arranged.
7. Three of a kind: Johnson, Hughes and team president Neil Glat are conducting the GM interviews. Ryan hasn't been present, I'm told, although he's expected to participate once it gets close to the end game. From what I hear, Johnson has appeared humble in the interviews, basically asking each candidate, "How can you help us?" At least he recognizes there's a problem; it's the first step to recovery.
8. Hill Street blues: Just heard this: The decision to trade up in the second round to draft WR Stephen Hill last spring wasn't the most popular move. As one member of the organization said, "I was sick to my stomach." And that was before he started dropping passes.
9. Peyton's place in history: Peyton Manning will be remembered as one of the best quarterbacks in history, but let's face it: His uneven performances in the postseason -- see Saturday's OT interception -- will be part of his legacy. He's not a pressure quarterback. That was a horrible interception against the Ravens, something out of the Mark Sanchez book. Throwing on the run isn't his forte; he should know that. He threw only 30 passes outside the pocket this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He looked old and cold, and his passes had no zip. Sad.
10. Raving about the Ravens: I'm starting to get a "super" kind of feeling about these Ravens, who may have a chance for sweet redemption -- a rematch of last year's AFC Championship Game. They should've beaten the Patriots last year, but the Ravens got Cundiff-ed. It'll be an unfinished-business theme if they get the Belichicks again next Sunday.