General manager Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Rex Ryan met with reporters today at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center for an end-of-season news conference.
And the multipart message from the two heads of the Jets' football operation was that the loss to Miami and the fall from the playoffs greatly pained both of them, they know they have to change their operation this offseason to get the Green & White back to prominence, and that a lot of the core playing and coaching personnel from this year's group will be back because Ryan and Tannenbaum believe in them.
"My job is to build a team," Ryan said. "And for whatever reason, I don't think we were as close as a football team as we were the first two years and now we're sitting on the outside looking in, we're watching other teams in playoff games that we think we should be in. And I think that's painful, beyond belief."
"It's about 23 hours since we've been eliminated from the playoffs," Tannenbaum said, "and I think it's incumbent upon us to turn that into an opportunity to get better and learn, and it starts with me and we have to do a better job as an organization."
Ryan was asked about things he didn't do as well as he wanted or that he wants to do better, and one thing came to his mind immediately — naming six season-long captains back in training camp.
"This is not a reflection on anybody in particular, but we're not going to have those anymore," Ryan said. "The way we build our team is we build a team. And I think that pulls away from the team a little bit. It may work for other franchises but it doesn't work for me. ... It's something I'm not a believer in and I was uncomfortable when I made that decision and obviously I look at it now as it was a mistake."
The question about the captaincies came up in relation to offensive captain Santonio Holmes, who got into a well-publicized huddle exchange with teammates and was sent to the sideline for the two-minute drive in the Miami loss. Rex and Mike T said while they weren't happy about that, they see him remaining with the Jets moving forward, and not only because he's under contract.
"He's won a ton of games for this franchise. And he's been a good teammate," the coach said. "Helping Joe McKnight out, standing beside me calling defenses on the sideline, cheering for our defense — there's a lot to him. There's a lot of positive things about Santonio. Are there some things that we need to get directed? Absolutely."
Tannenbaum recalled the game-turning touchdown catch against the Redskins. "That to me is who Santonio Holmes is. He's a true gamebreaker," said the GM. "With that said, did everything go right this year? No, it didn't. But it's going to be up to us to work with him collaboratively to get it work and we're glad he's here and we'll get it fixed."
Another shortcoming of Ryan's was that he admitted he lost the sense of his players in the locker room.
"Normally I'm a guy that really has the pulse of this team. I've always felt that," he said. "I don't think I had the pulse of our team the way I've done in the past, and when I met with players today, I think that became clear to me."
"I met with over a dozen players," Tannenbaum added, "and I think part of the job of being a leader is you have to know when to listen, and right now we're listening and we're going to evaluate it. Clearly, a lot of things we could've all done better."
Two hot-button issues for fans and reporters may not be changing and that is the status of Mark Sanchez and Brian Schottenheimer. Both men continued to fully support Sanchez as he sets out on his fourth pro season as the Jets signalcaller.
"We'll look at every position and if we can add a tweak or change it, we'll look at the quarterback position as a whole," Tannenbaum said, "but as far as the starter, it's Mark."
Schottenheimer's status is less definitive because as the GM said, the Jets have given their offensive coordinator permission to interview with the Jacksonville Jaguars for their head-coaching vacancy.
But barring a job offer from another team, both men said "Coach Schotty" will retain his title as the Jets OC.
"We do expect Brian Schottenheimer back," Tannenbaum said. "We have been with him now for six years and I really respect the job he's done, in terms of working with three different quarterbacks, two championship games, and he's done a really incredible job for us."
"I think for whatever reason, people want to target him," Ryan said, "and I've said all along, it should be targeted at me, not at Brian or any other coach. It's my job as a head coach to get this team to play at a certain level. And I think the criticism specifically about Brian, I believe, is unfair."
Some fans and reporters might say that it sounds as if the Jets are talking about change but that there may be no overhaul at all. Tannenbaum stressed alterations will be made.
"We have to put a better product on the field," Mr. T said. "But a lot of it comes from within, year to year. Look at the strides some of our younger players have made. I think Jeremy Kerley was a lot better football player against the Dolphins than he was on opening day. Our roster is filled with those type of guys.
"The best way to improve your team is from within 100 percent of the time. That's not to say we're not going to look, because we will look. But we're going to get better with a lot of the nucleus that's in that locker room right now."
How the Tannenbaum-Ryan plan will unfold will be interesting to see in this first offseason after a non-playoffs regular season. And that offseason has already begun.