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New York Jets Fire Mike Tannebaum, Tony Sparano Will not Return

January 1st, 2013 at 8:22 AM
By Donald Lappe

Black Monday in the NFL was a busy day, with lots of coaches, general managers and other team executives losing jobs around the league. The Jets were involved in the whirlwind of moves, with general manager Mike Tannenbaum being fired by owner Woody Johnson. Head Coach Rex Ryan is safe, but offensive coordinator Tony Sparano will not return (Jets assistant coaches operate under one year contracts).

'Katherine Creag covering the New York Jets Pep Rally at Florham Park NJ for NBC New York' photo (c) 2011, Anthony Quintano - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

It was really nothing more than a formality, but the New York Jets officially fired Mike Tannenbaum yesterday. Reports surfaced last week that Mike Tannenbaum would be relieved of his duties, with some hinting at reassignment within the organization, but Woody Johnson's statement made no mention of that.

"Our 2012 season was a disappointment to all of us. My goal every year as owner is to build a team that wins consistently. This year, we failed to achieve that goal.

This morning, I informed Mike Tannenbaum that he will not return for the 2013 season. Mike devoted 15 years of service to the Jets, and I want to thank him for his hard work and dedication. Although he helped guide us to two consecutive AFC Championship Games, we are not where we want to be, and a new General Manager will be critical to getting this team back on the right track.

Starting immediately, we will conduct a search for a new General Manager. I've consulted with a number of football executives and I have also engaged the services of Korn/Ferry International, the same search firm that conducted the NFL Commissioner search in 2006. Our process with Korn/Ferry will be led by Jed Hughes, who heads their sports practice and who previously led the General Manager search for the Seattle Seahawks, among others. When we have updates on this process, we will provide them to our fans and the media.

Rex Ryan will remain the Head Coach of our football team. I believe that he has the passion, the talent, and the drive to successfully lead our team. 

Like all Jets fans, I am disappointed with this year’s results. However, I am confident that this change will best position our team for greater success going forward."

The other important parts of the statement are the vote of confidence for Rex Ryan and the decision to bring on Korn/Ferry International to help find a new general manager. Rex Ryan deserves another season, as we have already touched on. He needs a strong personnel evaluator at general manager to balance out the decision-making of the organization.

The old cliché is that coaches want to hold on to players too long, while general managers want to get rid of them too soon. There is some truth to that, but what it really reflects is the balance needed in the front office when it comes to player personnel decisions. The head coach can't just run free, he needs to be checked by a strong general manager that believes in his own ability to evaluate talent.

Whether Mike Tannenbaum is a poor talent evaluator or just wasn't confident enough in his own feelings and preferred to defer to Rex Ryan, his inability to check Rex Ryan is what lost him his job. That might sound like an implication of Rex Ryan as well but it really isn't. The head coach's job is to fight for his players; the coach is the one working with them on the practice field every day and trying to turn them into better players. The coach really does build personal relationships with the players. Being further removed from the players, the general manager's job is to be able to make some cold, calculating decisions and be strong enough to override the head coach.

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Tags: Football, Mike Tannenbaum, New York, New York Jets, NFL, Rex Ryan, Tony Sparano, Woody Johnson

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