Nine days after the New York Jets closed out their circus-like 2012 regular season with a 28-9 loss to the Buffalo Bills, head coach Rex Ryan and owner Woody Johnson met with the media to discuss what went wrong with the team this season and how the two men plan to fix the organization going forward.
The first order of business is to find a general manager to replace Mike Tannenbaum, who was fired last Monday. The club has focused its search on San Francisco 49ers director of player personnel Tom Gamble and Atlanta Falcons director of player personnel David Caldwell, who is scheduled to have a second interview with the team.
Johnson discussed the search process, of which Ryan is an active participant.
"We're looking at somebody who can guide this team to the next level of success, and really, change the dynamic that yields more consistent success on the field," Johnson said. "In terms of specific characteristics, I can't get into that yet. The candidates we're talking to are exceptionally good. Each one brings something different. I'm encouraged with what I'm seeing so far."
Ryan discussed how he made the decision to part ways with offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, the team's second offensive coordinator in as many seasons after parting ways with Brian Schottenheimer after the 2011 season. Ryan said that one of his failures as head coach has been his inability to get the offense to adopt the same attacking, aggressive and unpredictable style of the team's defense and special teams units.
"That ground-and-pound mentality fit our football team, but I want to be more of an attack style of team, whether running the Pistol or different types of offenses," said Ryan. "As hard as we are to attack on defense, I want to be the same way on offense. ... Just the kind of attacking and unpredictability we have on defense, I think we need to be filtered throughout this football team."
Ryan confirmed that defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is moving on and that Ben Kotwica had been promoted to replace the retiring Mike Westhoff as special teams coordinator. According to Seth Walder of the New York Daily News, defensive backs coach Dennis Thurman will replace Pettine as defensive coordinator and share play-calling duties with Ryan.
Quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh was also let go. As for the personnel at the quarterback position, Ryan and Johnson largely deferred on questions about Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow, putting off commenting on either of the quarterback's fates until a decision is made on the general manager and offensive coordinator positions.
"We’ll see what happens," Ryan said of Sanchez and Tebow. "Let’s get the general manager and the offensive coordinator in place before we answer any questions specifically about players."
Moving Sanchez will be difficult as his $8.25 million base salary in 2013 is fully guaranteed with no offsets. Tebow is due over $1 million in base salary next season, but the Jets still owe the Denver Broncos $1.53 million of a 2011 salary advance that the team agreed to repay when acquiring the former Heisman Trophy winner last March. Ryan denied that financial considerations would be a factor in who plays quarterback for the team in 2013.
"I'll just say this: The situation, whoever the offensive coordinator is, his system and all those type of things, there's going to be a lot of things going into it," Ryan said. "Money, the financial part of it will not have any consideration. We'll play the player that fits what we do best, what we believe gives us the best chance."
Ryan did joke that three-year-old tattoo on his arm of his wife in a Sanchez jersey could get a new number if Sanchez didn't improve his performance on the field.