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Free Agency Tells Rex Ryan Jets Headed Upward

Posted Mar 20, 2014

Jets Head Coach, GM John Idzik Talk with Us Before Heading to League Meetings

This is the time on the calendar when everyone in the NFL takes a breath .It's the inhalation between the first lull of free agency and the whoosh of 32 team reps flying from their headquarters to the site of the league's annual meetings.

General manager John Idzik and head coach Rex Ryan took this time, before heading for Orlando, to make their first comments about free agency with me and Eric Allen for newyorkjets.com. Both liked the direction we've gone in to this point with the signing of unrestricted free agents Eric Decker and Breno Giacomini and the re-signing of eight Jets free agents who'll remain with the Green & White.

"It's unfolded pretty well, busy as always," Idzik said. About the new guys, he said, "We're excited about both players." And about the returnees: "I think it's too easy to take for granted your own free agents. ... It's very gratifying to have almost all of our free agents want to come back."

"That's what's so funny about free agency," Ryan said. "People will talk about the two guys from other teams, and I certainly understand that, but the fact that these other guys are our own guys and they wanted to come back to the Jets ... that's when you know you have this thing going in the right direction."

Still, many fans and reporters have expressed varying degrees of displeasure with the Jets now that we're in the second week of the new league year, whether it's because the team let some of its own get away, didn't pursue other players, met with other players and didn't close the deal, or saw Darrelle Revis sign with the Patriots.

Asked about that last item, Ryan smiled.

"My public stance is now Darrelle's a New England Patriot. Gosh, that's the only stance I have," Rex said. "He's now the enemy. Obviously we recognize the kind of player he is, and was for us. But he's somebody else's player now."

Idzik had a bigger-picture analysis for unhappy Jets followers.

"First and foremost, everything we do, we have our fans in mind. We play the game for our fans, they instill the energy in us," the GM said. "The plans we make, the moves we eventually are able to implement, they're all done to improve this team for our fans.

"Our plan really hasn't shifted. I stated when I first got here how important the draft will always be to our team, no matter what stage we're in, no matter what year it is. Free agency, we've stated, will be need-based.

"Obviously we know what areas we'd like to improve, but we're going to be smart about it. We're not going to do anything that may scratch a short-term itch but may not be good for us in the long term. We want to build a team for our fans that not only wins this year but wins for the foreseeable future."

Neither man had much to say about any moves ahead, say in regard to what will happen at quarterback with Mark Sanchez's future or with Michael Vick's reported visit in a few days.

"We discuss it every day," Idzik said of QB in general. "We're going to do the same thing we said before, which is to gather as much information as we can about Mark, about everything that may affect the situation, and when we do ultimately make a decision, we feel like it's well-informed. So we're still in that process."

As for who's arrived, Ryan needless to say loves what he's seen so far about his two Super Bowl free agents — Decker, the former Broncos WR, and Giacomini, the Seahawks' starting right tackle.

"When you meet Eric Decker, you can tell he's a guy that'd be a great teammate, that really cares about his team. And he couldn't wait to be a Jet," the coach said. "Obviously he's familiar with our building, so he's blown away by that. But he's a guy that really would fit, just his style of play and his great size and his production, especially in the red zone."

Similarly, he loves the way Giacomini fits into his "Play Like a Jet" concept.

"Breno's just a tough guy. There's guys maybe with more finesse, but this guys got that bloody-your-nose mentality that fits that Jets profile that we want. And obviously John's familiar with him," Ryan said with a nod toward Idzik's recent tenure with the Seahawks, then joked, "He's from the Boston area but he can't stand the Patriots, so I love that about him.

"And when you put him next to Willie Colon, you don't want to get in a fight with those two."

Of course, Colon is one of those eight Jets from 2013 who will be with us again in '14. Rex had complimentary observations about them all, because they all possess those characteristics he, Idzik and the organization are looking for, whether during need-based free agency or the important process of the draft.

"We want guys that are passionate, guys that are good teammates, guys that just love the game and play with a certain physical brand of football," he said. "Regardless of the position, that's what we're looking for."

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