Commentary

What has Tannenbaum been doing?

Take a break from blaming Sanchez and Rex to cast a critical gaze at Jets' GM

Updated: October 5, 2012, 5:28 PM ET
By Stephen A. Smith | ESPNNewYork.com

After years of presiding over the New York Jets, saying nothing of substance and, evidently, doing close to that much along the way, GM Mike Tannenbaum -- affectionately named Mr. CIA on these pages -- actually said something interesting recently.

Appearing on ESPN New York on Thursday afternoon on the heels of the 34-0 shellacking Sunday at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers, Tannenbaum had this to say when asked if Mark Sanchez was a great quarterback:

"It depends on how you define greatness," Tannenbaum said. "I define the success of a quarterback by wins and losses.

"We've won a lot of games with Mark and Rex [Ryan]" -- 34 since 2009, including playoffs -- "and that's proved to be a winning combination."

For this, I will not advocate that somebody should replace Tannenbaum as the Jets' GM.

For anyone who feels the need to do so, however, I'm not about to stop you.

To say Tannenbaum's comment about Sanchez was silly is obvious. But it doesn't begin to scratch the surface. It was also insulting to the intelligence of Jets fans everywhere. Insensitive, too. And revealing, particularly about a man so focused on avoiding saying the wrong things that he appears incapable of doing what's right.

Tannenbaum's recent drafts and personnel moves have presented monumental questions about his capacity to run this franchise. In this city. And Tannenbaum had better figure out something quickly before a chorus comes calling for him to get out of town.

The Jets, 2-2 heading into Monday night's inevitable beatdown by the Houston Texans, are spiraling downhill. They are fresh off the third-worst home loss in franchise history, a game in which they accumulated their fewest yards in 15 years. They've averaged just 11 points per game in the past three weeks -- after putting up 48 on the Buffalo Bills opening day.

The Jets rank 23rd in points per game, 24th in rushing, 26th in passing and are saddled with a quarterback whose completion percentage has plummeted below 50 percent the past three games.

Mind you, this is happening as the Jets -- who are without Darrelle Revis for the rest of the season -- are about to go up against a Texans team boasting the second-most potent offensive attack (31.5 ppg) in the NFL.

Ryan is on the record saying that Sanchez has to play better. The public has already clamored for Tim Tebow, lamenting the fact that he has only participated in 32 plays for the Jets thus far. Owner Woody Johnson even took a break from trying to get Mitt Romney elected to opine.

"[Whether to start Tebow] is a question that will be asked about frequently if this progresses," Johnson said, "because this is unacceptable playing."

You hear this if you're Tannenbaum. You see how this team has performed. You know how awful the Jets' offense has looked, and that the owner is perturbed, and you still try to attach Sanchez to greatness?

In any capacity?

Perhaps Tannenbaum knows that the blame lies, primarily, with him.

Perhaps Tannenbaum has finally taken the time to notice he hasn't given Sanchez much to work with, especially this season. That he has not blessed Sanchez with the appropriate weapons to be all that Ryan proclaimed the Jets would be.

Just like Tannenbaum might one day realize he should've had Plaxico Burress on this roster or a better right tackle than Wayne Hunter in training camp, he may also realize his team ranks 29th in sacks (five) this season, despite having two first-rounders in Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples on his defensive line. That they were 17th last season and ranked 20th overall spanning the past four seasons.

Maybe he realizes his time for living off the draft of 2006 (D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold) and 2007, when the Jets moved up in the draft to grab Revis and David Harris, has run its course.

If Tannenbaum hasn't realized this by now, maybe a collective effort should be made to make sure he does.

What kind of a GM surmises that offensive coordinator Tony Sparano -- straight out of exile from Miami -- along with Tebow, amounts to significant upgrades in personnel? Or signs Sanchez to a three-year extension? Or believes Santonio Holmes was worth a five-year, $45 million contract?

Mind you, these questions are respectfully broached with Leon Washington, Lito Sheppard and Vernon Gholston in mind -- all questionable moves made by Tannenbaum.

"Rex, Woody and myself, we talk all the time," Tannenbaum said the other day. "We have a great relationship and we have a good, robust debate about what's best for the team."

Jets personnel clearly shows how well that's working, which is to say not that well at all.

So much so that it's officially time to take a long, hard look at the job Tannenbaum is doing.

Especially since it appears as if he's refusing to do so himself.

Stephen A. Smith | email

ESPNNewYork.com columnist
Stephen A. Smith is a featured columnist for ESPNNewYork.com, host of a weekday show for ESPN New York 98.7 and a regular on "SportsCenter" and "First Take."

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