The New York Jets have stumbled their way to a 3-5 start this season, and if the Jets fail to reach the NFL playoffs for the second straight season, it stands to reason that people will need to be held accountable.
One man who will come under fire if the Jets don’t turn it around is general manager Mike Tannenbaum, who is the guy who buys the groceries, so to speak, so that head coach Rex Ryan can cook the meal.
Tannenbaum rose to prominence as a cap guru, trainining under Bill Parcells; he made his way up to general manager in 2006, where in his very first draft class, he selected two perennial Pro Bowlers with his first two picks.
The Jets drafted left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold with their two 1st-round draft picks in 2006, and they drafted key contributors Eric Smith, Brad Smith and Leon Washington as well.
In the 2007 NFL Draft, the Jets struck gold again, as Tannenbaum made two bold draft day trades to move up to select cornerback Darrelle Revis in round one, and inside linebacker David Harris in round two.
Needless to say, after selecting four core players with their first two picks in both 2006 and 2007, Tannenbaum and his scouting department quickly built quite a reputation for draft day success.
Yet, no GM is perfect. In 2008, the infamous Vernon Gholston selection was a total bust. Their second first-rounder, Dustin Keller, has developed into a decent player, but nothing too special.
In 2009, the Jets again made some bold trades, selecting only three players in their entire draft class. Quarterback Mark Sanchez, running back Shonn Greene, and offensive lineman Matt Slauson.
It’s still a little early to judge any of the last three draft classes, but the clock is ticking on the Jets’ four-man 2010 draft class, which included fifth-round fullback John Conner, whom the team already parted ways with.
Cornerback Kyle Wilson was their top pick that year, 29th overall in round one. Offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse, #61 overall, was their second pick.
Both have gotten the most extensive playing time of their careers here in 2012, yet the two of them seem to be going in opposite directions.
Wilson (#20, above ) has taken over for the injured Revis, and he has not shown any indication that he’ll ever live up to his first-round billing. He routinely gets picked on in coverage, and it’s been a big problem week in and week out.
Ducasse, on the other hand, has shown much more promise lately. A Haitian-born young man who played at an FCS school, the Jets knew there would be a bit of a learning curve for Big Vlad, but their patience is beginning to pay off.
The Jets haven’t firmly decided where Ducasse best fits. He was a tackle in college, and the Jets tried him out at right tackle in the pros, but it appears he does his best work on the inside at one of the guard spots.
This season, the Jets have rotated Matt Slauson and Vlad Ducasse at left guard, with the latter coming in to play about every third offensive series, with pretty good results.
Not only have the Jets not missed a beat when the 25-year-old Ducasse rotates into the lineup, but they’ve actually been quite successful as well. At this rate, Ducasse may earn a starting job next season – or perhaps sooner.
Nobody in the Jets’ 2010 draft class has been more successful than fourth-rounder Joe McKnight so far, but Ducasse is beginning to make a name for himself. Kyle Wilson, unfortunately, hasn’t been able to do the same.
Mike Tannenbaum has made bold moves as Jets GM. Some have worked out brilliantly. Some have blown up in their faces. At the end of the day, the voices of dissent will only get louder if the Jets’ overall play doesn’t improve.
If the Jets fail to improve over the second half of the year, it could be Tannenbaum who they hold accountable.
The Jets have a lot on the line these next few months. It’s time to step up. Otherwise, it’ll be time to step aside.