The storm of the century has passed through New York City and the evacuation order has been lifted. However, there is another local mega-storm brewing in Florham Park, NJ, where the corporate offices of the New York Jets are located. We can call this second disturbance Frankenstorm II, since it is green and getting uglier by the week. And just like Hurricane Sandy, this storm may also result in evacuation orders – this time aimed directly at the Jets’ front office.
With Tim Tebow, Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan hogging all the headlines lately, New York Jets’ General Manager Mike Tannenbaum has managed to avoid the blinding glare of the big city spotlight. Having lost eight of their last eleven regular season contests, the Jets are in a free fall and Tannenbaum hopes he can continue to operate in stealth mode.
Tannenbaum is currently in his seventh year as GM after replacing Terry Bradway, who lasted six seasons. Judging by the patience Jets’ owner Woody Johnson displayed with his previous GM (and head coach), Tannenbaum may be living on borrowed time. Appearances in two consecutive AFC Championship Games are nice, but the NFL has always been a what have you done for me lately league.
So what has Tannenbaum done for the Jets lately? The job of an NFL GM is multifaceted in that involves knowledge, skill (and luck) in drafting talent, signing free agents, making trades, negotiating contracts and dealing with the salary cap, among others. Oh yeah…did you know that Tannenbaum is known around the league as a salary cap guru? But what about his ability to bring in the proper players and build a winner?
For the sake of brevity, let’s look at what Tannenbaum has done with the Jets’ offensive skill positions in seven years. Certainly, that is enough time to build an effective offensive unit. The late great Bill Walsh used his immense knowledge of the offensive game to build a dynasty in San Francisco in just three seasons, turning around a 2-14 squad.
Tannenbaum traded up in the 2009 NFL Draft, selecting Sanchez to succeed Brett Favre at quarterback. In his fourth season, Sanchez is currently 30th in passer rating, 28th in yards per attempt and dead last in completion percentage. Do we have to go any further to figure out that the Sanchez pick has not panned out? And to make matters worse, Tannenbuam gave Sanchez a contract extension after an ineffective 2011 season. Indeed, an odd move by the salary cap guru.
Moving on to the running back position, where Tannenbaum draft pick Shonn Greene is carrying the load. Greene is 14th in rushing yards this season, but near the bottom of the rankings with only 3.7 yards per carry. Without breakaway speed, Greene is not a threat to break a game open. For a supposed ground and pound team, Greene would make a very good second running back. As the featured back, he has failed to make the cut.
At wide receiver, the leader in catches is Jet rookie Jeremy Kerley, who is ranked 35th in receptions and 29th in yards per catch with only two touchdowns. Again, these would be good numbers for a second or third receiver, not your top guy. To be fair, the Jets did lose Santonio Holmes for the season to an injury.
And to also be fair, Tannenbaum signed Holmes, a receiver who has broken the 1,000 yard mark just once in his career (with Pittsburgh 2009), to a $45 million deal making him the sixth highest paid receiver in the league. To say that Holmes was extremely overvalued (and overpaid) by Tannenbaum is an understatement. But hey…who am I to question a salary cap guru?
To sum it all up, in seven years, Tannenbaum has succeeded in obtaining starting skill players who rank near the bottom of several key statistical offensive categories in the NFL. Not helping matters is the Jets are also paper thin in depth on the offensive side of the ball. I guess this is the trade off when you have a GM who knows salary caps, but does not know talent.
With Frankenstorm II quickly approaching for the Jets, Tannenbaum better hold on tight to his salary cap, because he may finally lose his cover and have to heed orders to evacuate his Florham Park office.