Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Jets GM defends Tim Tebow trade
By Rich Cimini
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Responding to heavy criticism, New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum defended the team's acquisition of Tim Tebow and insisted that, contrary to the public perception, the move wasn't driven by owner Woody Johnson.
"That's completely not true," Tannenbaum told ESPNNewYork.com on Wednesday. "It 100 percent came from this department. Do I talk to Woody all the time? Absolutely, but it was our call."
Tebow has played sparingly in nine games, fueling speculation that coach Rex Ryan wasn't on board with the trade and that it was the brainchild of the publicity-minded Johnson. Tannenbaum said there was "100 percent unanimity" among him, Ryan and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano.
Tebow-mania went to a new level Wednesday, with several unnamed players ripping the backup quarterback in a New York Daily News article. That, coupled with Tebow's lack of productivity and a 3-6 record, has put the organization under siege.
Tannenbaum wouldn't address anonymous quotes, but said he hasn't heard any negative reaction to Tebow around the building. Tannenbaum said he's satisfied with the trade and has no regrets, but hopes to see more production in the final seven games.
"Our view of the trade was, he's a weapon, there's no doubt about it," he said. "We brought him in as an additional weapon for our offense ... That was the vision and the thought process for making the trade.
"We're 3-6. That's the lens I'm viewing everything through. We're 3-6, and he's done some good things. I hope he'll contribute more over the last seven games."
Tannenbaum has come under fire for personnel decisions in the past two years. Since their appearance in the 2010 AFC Championship Game, the Jets are 11-14, having lost nine of their last 12 games. They've lost three games this season by at least 21 points.
Aside from Tebow, Tannenbaum didn't add any proven weapons last offseason on offense, stunting quarterback Mark Sanchez's development. The season-ending injury to Santonio Holmes has exposed a lack of depth at wide receiver.
In 7-of-9 games, the Jets have scored only six offensive touchdowns.
"We're in a little bit of a rough patch here, there's no doubt about it, but we have a good core of players that we think we can win games with for a long time," Tannenbaum said. "We just have to get over the hump and I'm confident we can. We have the players and coaches to get it done. We really feel that way."
Like Ryan, Tannenbaum has two years remaining on his contract. He doesn't appear to be in any immediate danger of getting fired, but his job security has become a hot topic. He declined to discuss it, saying he wants to concentrate on Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams.
"It's really been hard," he said. "I pour everything I've got into this job. It's the health and well-being of my wife and two kids, and this. That's all I've got. ... Being 3-6, it's not a good feeling. It's tough."
Tannenbaum admitted the team's troubles keep him up at night.
"I'm not sleeping well. I really don't deserve to be," he said. "Our job is to get this thing done. It's about wins and losses. It stings. It stings a lot."
Tannenbaum gave a vote of confidence to Ryan, whom he hired in 2009.
"People draw energy from Rex; he has an innate ability," he said. "Let's go back to two years ago. We get our doors blown out in New England and lose, 45-3, and what does he say at the podium in Foxborough? 'If we played tomorrow, we'd beat them.' Everyone's looking at him like he's crazy -- a lot of us. What happens? We go up there six weeks later (in the playoffs), and we beat them.
"That's all because of his innate leadership and optimism. We're in a sport that deals with adversity, but this brings out the best in Rex."