Jets Owner Woody Johnson Is About To Make the Biggest Mistake Since, Well... Since Trading for Tim Tebow

on January 25 2013 5:53 PM
Jets Owner Woody Johnson Is About To Make the Biggest Mistake Since, Well... Since Trading for Tim Tebow

The New York Jets are coming off an incredibly disappointing season in which Rex Ryan’s crew finished with its worst record in his tenure as head coach. His 2009 hiring prompted an immediate revival of the franchise, as Ryan led the Jets to two back-to-back AFC Championship appearances in his first 2 years. Then, 2011 saw the team uncharacteristically regress to 8-8 before completely falling apart this last season, finishing 6-10.

It’s interesting, the way the Jets are handled in the media. It’s a team that has never had solid play at the quarterback position in this Rex Ryan era. Former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer (now with the Rams) did a very good job at coaching QB Mark Sanchez to make as few mistakes as possible, but he obviously bolted after 2011 because he might have seen the writing on the wall.

The reason this team was so successful during Rex Ryan’s first two seasons as head coach was because he brought everything out of the defense he was handed. Ryan more than proved his bonafides as defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens and when he came to New York he was loved not just by his new team, but was the envy of players around the league. Having been voted by NFL players just a few years ago as the guy most players want to play for, he was recently voted by NFL players as the league’s most overrated coach.

When discussing the New York Jets it should never go without mentioning that this 2012 disaster of a season was the first (and likely only) season with Tim Tebow on the squad. We could talk forever about Rex Ryan’s polarizing personality, but no one doubts either his passion for the game. With all of the commotion surrounding the Jets this season, it’s almost as if everyone thinks they’re supposed to be good no matter what happens. Nevermind the spotty QB play (which everyone expects from this mediocre offense), or the spotty RB play (which everyone expects from this mediocre offense), or the extreme difficulty this mediocre offense has moving the ball downfield (which everyone expects). Everyone from the journalists to the fans seems to believe that the reason this team has sunk so low is because Rex Ryan is a bad coach, even though he took over from Eric Mangini in 2008 and led a team that finished 3rd in the AFC East all the way to the AFC title game the following year… and with close to no significant additions to the roster.

As I mentioned, Tim Tebow was a Jet this last season. Speculation has turned to Tebow possibly not being able to find a spot on any of the 32 NFL teams in 2013, even though he has an 8-6 winning record as a starting QB. It’s fair to say Tim Tebow is a better starting QB than numerous other guys that will be playing in the NFL next season; and it is equally fair to say that the reason Tebow might not be playing in the NFL next season is because he is a humongous distraction for any team. The media (especially ESPN) eats up anything and everything about the guy. He draws unwarranted and unwelcome attention wherever he goes—and for reasons that have little-to-nothing to do with his on-field play. Combine that unnatural effect with the atmosphere of a football team that plays in New York and you have a chaotic time bomb waiting to explode.

It never happened on the field, and it almost never happened in the media, but you can bet it caused a rift in the locker room, and the only person I can think to blame isn’t Rex Ryan or even GM Mike Tannenbaum. It looks like owner Woody Johnson is the one to blame. He’s the one that insisted on going after Tebow (and, of course Tebow chose to go to New York instead of Jacksonville, who was also pursuing the Florida Gator legend). Johnson spent a good portion of 2012 shilling for then-Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, and when you weight the reasons why Tim Tebow is famous with the political leanings of the Jets owner, it becomes increasingly obvious that Johnson didn’t want Tebow because he was a good addition to his team, but rather because he simply like the guy. He liked what he stood for—what makes him endearing to fans regardless of his on-field success—his conservative Christian faith. Maybe Woody Johnson somehow figured that drawing conservative Christian attention from southern states to his New York Jets was a good idea? Who knows?

What we do know is that the Jets tanked in 2012. They tanked for a plethora of reasons; namely the numerous injuries that plagued the team all season. Another reason they tanked was because Mark Sanchez somehow morphed into one of the worst quarterbacks in the league. I wonder how much Tebow’s completely unnecessary presence on the team had to do with that? I wonder if, way beyond the injuries, owner Woody Johnson is to blame?

He’s now talking about trading Darrelle Revis, who caught the injury bug last September and whose absence certainly played a direct role in the Jets having such an awful season.

It seems to me that this team doesn’t need an incredibly far-reaching overhaul. Rex Ryan made this defense the standard-bearing until of the league just 3 years ago. No one talked about “Revis Island” when Eric Mangini was the head coach. Rex Ryan took this team to the AFC title game 2 years in a row by making his defense play well enough to negate the fact that the offense was abysmal.

The offense is still abysmal, and owner Woody Johnson thinks he can fix that by putting their best overall player on the trading block.

On one hand it makes sense, because in theory the defense should be good enough when healthy to shoulder the loss of Revis. If Tannenbaum can get a nice return for trading the star cornerback then maybe they can fill some of the holes on offense that have plague this team for years. On the other hand, trading Revis comes off as an incredibly reactionary thing to do in the face of a 6-10 season.

Can I point out that 6-10 isn’t even that bad of a season. 6-10 is what teams finish with when they need an injection not an amputation. The Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars are teams in dire need of help, whereas the Jets are essentially in need of one, maybe two players. But, really… if they stay healthy they should return to being top-tier competitors in 2013.As any Dallas Cowboy fan will tell you, there is no accounting for an owner with an itchy trigger finger who has convinced himself that he knows best.

The Jets are reportedly seeking a big package involving 1st and 2nd round picks. New England, Buffalo, Seattle, Denver, San Francisco, and Green Bay are all said to be taking a serious look at the offer. The deal has the potential to be one of the biggest in years, closely mirroring the chaos surrounding Reggie White’s future in 1993 and Peyton Manning’s in 2011.

Revis is coming off an anterior ligament tear surgery and is entering the final year of his contract, but he is still believed to be the shutdown corner that he has made a reputation of, and he is still only 27 years old. He recently tweeted that he was “speechless” about the development. Rex Ryan has said he doesn’t want to trade Revis, but Woody Johnson appears to be adamant and dedicated to trading him.

The problem is that any team that submits a legitimate offer will be a team like those mentioned above. They’ll be contenders, which means that their draft picks won’t be high; which means that the chances at getting a significant return for parting with one of the best cornerbacks of this era will be increasingly slim.

Revis further tweeted, “I feel more upset for the Jet nation for having to go through this!!!” I’m inclined to agree with him. I’d hate to be Jet fan on the day Revis puts on a Packer uniform or a 49er uniform, or even a Patriot uniform.

Woody Johnson just wants to make a splash; make headlines. He’s going to ruin what was once a very promising squad, because he’s pompous and thinks he knows best because he’s the owner.

In Woody’s mind, if he wasn’t the best then he wouldn’t be owner. That’s the type of outlook that leads to trading for Tim Tebow and creating an unnecessary QB controversy. That’s the type of decision-making that ends Super Bowl runs.