The Butt Fumble.
One year and 309 days ago---less than two years ago!---the Jets were playing for a place in the Super Bowl. They lost on that day, 24-19, to the Pittsburgh Steelers, a game they could have easily won if not for some Schotty goal line play-calling and Rashard Mendenhall reincarnating as Walter Payton. Now, on Nov. 27, 2012---less than two years later!!---they are playing for a draft position, with the possibility of entering the 2013 season with a new quarterback, head coach, and God willing, a new general manager.
The general manager. Let's start with him, because in my opinion, it ends with him. You can argue Rex has been a negative influence on Mike Tannebaum's decision-making---his track record pre-Rex is much better---but ultimately Tannenbaum pulls the trigger on every personnel decision, and his post-2010 AFC Championship Game roster moves have brought this team to, yes, The Butt Fumble.
How did we get here? Let's take a look. Oh, and grab a vomit bag while you're at it.
Actually, watch this first. Sometimes I love how trashy Jets fans are.
We're going to focus on post-2010 personnel decisions, but let's not forget these post-2009 roster moves, as the 2010 squad would have been far stronger if not for these missteps.
Joe McKnight for Leon Washington McKnight's NFL legacy will be puking during his rookie training camp. Leon's legacy will be the all-time leader in kickoff returns for a touchdown (8), half of which came after Mr. T decided Washington was washed up and injury-prone.
Matt Slauson for Alan Faneca While Slauson has improved from train wreck to below average, Tannenbaum decided to remove an integral part of the Jets Ground-And-Pound operation, and the result was the team's rushing offense going from a 2,756 yard-21 touchdown-4.5 yards per carry clip, to a less impressive 2,374 yards-14 toucdowns-4.4 yards per carry clip.
LaDainian Tomlinson for Thomas Jones Their 2010 stats were virtually identical, but Tannenbaum decided to remove a locker room leader and fan favorite for a player who notoriously came up small in playoff games, was on the downside of his career, and who has now become a professional Jets troll.
Kyle Wilson over Rob Gronkowski; Vlad Ducasse over Humanity (and Jimmy Graham); Joe McKnight over Aaron Hernandez
Ignoring the trend of a two-tight end league, Tannenbaum opted not to surround his franchise quarterback with a new target, but rather unproven college talents. Each of those tight ends, all Pro Bowlers and two likely future Hall of Famers, were picked shortly after---just one pick in Hernandez's case---the Jets took a trio of players who have contributed absolutely nothing to the team in three seasons.
Wayne Hunter for Damien Woody
When Damien Woody, another locker room leader and fan favorite (there's a trend here), went down with an injury late in the 2010 season, the Jets decided to give the "best backup right tackle in football" a chance to start. Despite failing miserably and tipping plays on the Jets most crucial offensive series of the past 43 years, Mr. T thought he knew something that no one else did (also a trend), and decided he had won a starting job for the 2011 season.The rest is history. Plaxico Burress for Braylon EdwardsThe one receiver whom Sanchez had developed a real chemistry with in his first two seasons, and who had made countless big catches, was not re-signed because he was asking for too much money. (He later signed a 1-year contract with the 49ers for a base salary of $1 million.) Mr. T, in his infinite, pompous wisdom, decided it'd be smart to sign an ex-convict who had spent the past two years in prison to a 1-year deal with $3,000,017. The 17 for Plaxico's number. Isn't that cute? And if you watched Hard Knocks this season, you know it wasn't Rex's decision, as Braylon still lists him as the one NFL coach who would vouch for him under any circumstance (even to a division rival's GM).
Derrick Mason for Jerricho Cotchery Again, a veteran wide receiver that Sanchez had a real connection with was let go in favor of one of the worst dudes to ever inhabit the Jets locker room. So bad that Mr. T had to cut his losses and release him after five games. Do you know how big a ******** you have to be for the Jets, THE JETS!, to release you because of character issues? Cotchery, on the other hand, was quickly gobbled up by one of the most respected franchises in the NFL, the Steelers. After just one season, The Flight Boys, a group of receivers Sanchez genuinely trusted, was dismantled.
Eric Smith for Kerry Rhodes
The problem with this move was not letting Kerry Rhodes walk, that was fine, but rather allowing Eric Smith to assume the starting safety role with very little competition (see: Pool, Brodney). It's really hard and painful to remember every play Smith blew in the secondary last season, but the enduring image of his Jets career and the 2011 season will always be him chasing Victor Cruz down the sideline on that 99-yard touchdown.
T.J. Conley for Steve Weatherford T.J. "I've Learned What It Means To Be A Pro" Conley is out of the NFL and Steve Weatherford played a crucial role on a Super Bowl winning team and is now one of the highest paid punters in league history. This one probably falls on Westhoff's shoulders, too. Actually, no, I'm sorry. He's the GREATEST. He NEVER makes mistakes. (Fraud.)
John Conner for Tony Richardson Yet another example of Tannebaum letting a locker room leader and fan favorite go in favor of an unproven backup who only earned the chance to play because HBO producers included him in their show. Conner, like Conley, is now out of football.
2011-12 Offseason Tim Tebow for Drew Stanton for Mark Brunell
This is not an indictment of Tebow. I actually like him as a person more than I thought I would, and the Jets have grossly misused whatever talent he has. This instead falls on Tannebaum's shoulders, as for the fourth straight season he failed to provide a reliable backup quarterback who Rex could go to when Sanchez ***** the bed.
Stephen Hill for Plaxico Burress
This is not a compliment of Plax. Instead, it is Tannebaum deciding that an unproven college talent could assume the role of a No. 2 receiver in the NFL. The Jets brass themselves said after the draft Hill was a "raw talent." If you know anything about sports and scouting prospects, you know "raw talent" is an euphemism for "****** player who could be good someday." The Jets decided a raw talent would be a starting wide receiver in 2012.
No one for Bart Scott; No one for Santonio Holmes; No one for Calvin Pace These three annoy me for so many reasons. Many of the idiotic moves listed above were made under the guise the Jets were trying to stay young and cut their losses on veteran players before they became washed up and overpaid. This offseason the Jets had a chance to cut two aging, ineffective linebackers---a position that actually needed fresh legs---and save a boatload of money, but Tannenabum instead chose to keep them, going back on his entire philosophy of In With The New, Out With The Old. As for Holmes, the Jets had a chance to get out from under his albatross of a contract (the Jets gave him $45 million when the Steelers were happy to get rid him of for a fifth-round pick), but Tannenbaum decided to keep him and give him almost all of his guaranteed money because he knew he had no other options at wide receiver. This was after a season in which he absolutely poisoned the locker room and the team's quarterback, and saw his receptions and receiving yards decline. The overall message here, which I hope you've been able to discern from the past 1,300 words, is that general manger Mike Tannenbaum must be fired at the season's end. His pompous, inconsistent, and downright moronic personnel decisions have doomed a once promising franchise. If Rex gets caught in the crossfire because he's a Tannebaum appointee, then so be it; he probably had a say in a number of these moves, as well.
I really can't believe I just typed that. It was all so different less than two years ago.