The Giants were the smaller disaster, so let’s handle them first. They were next-to-the-last in the entire league on defense, meaning 31 out of 32 teams in yards/allowed. That’s going to take so much shoring up before next season that it’s hard to know where to begin.
And yet, that may not be Big Blue’s biggest problem. The truth is that Eli Manning had a bad season in 2012 and that Eli, who turns 32 on Thursday, isn’t likely to get much better in 2013. The Giants’ passing offense was perilously close to mediocre, 11th yds/throw, 11th in TD passes, and 15th in interceptions, and you can’t say that Eli didn’t have any help: the Giants offensive line gave up fewer sacks than any front five in the league. The rushing game, shored up with the blossoming of David Wilson, wasn’t bad, finishing 7th at 4.6 yds/try. Eli had the targets in Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks.
So Eli had the rushing support and the best pass blocking in the league, and yet his 87.2 passer rating was 14th in the league. This does not bode well for the Giants’ future.
The Jets are infinitely more complex and in vastly deeper doo-doo. This morning the announcement came through that GM Mike Tannenbaum, who had held the job for seven seasons during which the Jets had a 57-55 won-lost record, had been fired. All morning long there was speculation that offensive coordinator Tony Sparano would also get the ax. As we go to press, there is no word but his chances don’t’ look good. Everyone is equally certain that Tim Tebow won’t be back, either, and the only reason there is hesitation on the fate of Mark Sanchez is that the Jets still owe him too much money to dump him–the result of his $20.5 million contract extension the front office gave him this past March.
The Jets are so screwed up. Owner Woody Johnson is spending a half a ton of money to hire someone named Jed Hughes of Korn/Ferry International to “head our team’s search for its new general manager.” A real football owner–as opposed to one like Johnson, who seems to dabble in football as a hobby–would know the best candidates for the job and wouldn’t be hiring some outside agency.
Moreover, Johnson has refused to make the most important and most obvious move: firing head coach Rex Ryan. God knows that after the blood letting last night thr ar enough good, experienced people now available for his job, including some who have taken teams to the Super Bowl. Would I take former Bears coach Lovie Smith over Ryan? Faster than it takes a Jets quarterback–any Jets quarterback–to get sacked.
By keeping Ryan while searching for a new GM, the Jets are setting themselves up for a potentially ugly and disruptive situation. First, any truly first-rate GM is going to want the power to choose his own head coach. Johnson seems to think like a corporation, not the head of a football team, or he’d understand this. What he is doing is creating the framework where the head coach is the owner’s pet and will have more power than the GM who is supposed to be the boss. What Johnson is saying is that he’s going to hold his GM responsible for the team’s success–or lack of it–without even allowing him to choose a head coach, the man who is most directly responsible for the wins and losses.
It’s a shame no one in the Jets organization has the guts to suggest to Johnson that the most important contribution he could make would be to sell his team to someone who knows something about football.