Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

GM Idzik Ultimately Responsible for Jets’ Issues at Cornerback

A blanket of anxiousness and curiosity looms over the New York Jets’ defense as they look for a solution at cornerback, their most glaring problem. Evolution of the current mess in the back end of New York’s defense has one initial culprit: general manager John Idzik.

Injuries in football are as unpredictable as the summer weather. But just like a thunderstorm in July, you know its coming. Not sure when or where but it’s undoubtedly happening. That’s why you keep an umbrella handy just in case.

John Idzik provided his Jets with no such protection. Okay, analogy over.

Dee Milliner, Dex McDougle and Dimitri Patterson have well-chronicled injury histories and it surprises very few that any of them are hurt once again. McDougle and Milliner had injuries in college while Patterson’s entire pro career has been inconsistent because of nonstop health issues.

Since Idzik was hired prior to the 2013 draft, we’ve gotten somewhat used to his modus operandi. He’s not one to spend money for the sake of it and believes the ‘quick fix’ doesn’t help build a long-term winner. He has a point and honorably has stayed true to that philosophy, refusing to give in to the pressure to add new pieces.

My question is: where is the line between ill-advised spending and necessary cost? Does improving the team in an obvious area of need qualify as frugal spending? With over $21 million in salary cap space was it necessary to sit on all of it and ignore this hole in what’s supposed to be a suffocating defensive unit?

Granted, it’s only preseason and the fact that New York has looked abysmal in the starting secondary in two games doesn’t really matter. But it does speak to a larger issue and soon, gang green getting torched for long drives and scores will matter a whole lot more.

Maybe Idzik is showing his faith in Rex and his schematic genius when it comes to the defense. Still, isn’t it possible Ryan just may not have the horses? Rex is being a company man—insisting he can make his defense work with the cornerbacks currently available.

Another bold statement we can only hope Ryan is right about.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

In reality we know the importance placed on man-to-man coverage in his defense. Limitations in the back end aren’t allowing Ryan to run his organized but chaotic unit how he originally intended. It would be fair to conclude that Rex and the team are currently taking the hit caused by Idzik’s transgression.

When the Jets defense was at its worst under Ryan in terms of points (24.2) and passing yards (246.7 YPG) allowed per game was last season—the first one under Rex in which no Jet cornerback performed like an All-Pro. The writing was on the wall.

Of course its bad luck that the top three guys on the depth chart are out at once; nobody can be blamed for that. But even with all of them active New York is thin at the position and reinforcement needed to take place.

The more knowledgeable fans could tell from their couches that this group’s durability issues had the potential to blow up in the Jets’ face with injury-plagued CBs and the unproven Milliner as the unquestioned number one.

Idzik completely misread the market for cornerbacks and wasn’t nearly as aggressive as he needed to be in making the team better with the vast amount of cap space teams don’t ordinarily have.

Jets nation would rather have seen Idzik swing and miss on a potential difference maker than take called strike three right down the middle.

Idzik’s pace is deliberate, almost glacial when it comes to decision making. It’s worked for him early in his tenure but not this time as it prevented landing proven corners (just to name a few) like Alterraun Verner, Vontae Davis and Dominique-Rodgers Cromartie, who walked out of the Jets facility and into a five-year deal with the Giants.

Before Idzik knew it over a dozen cornerbacks including Antonio Cromartie signed elsewhere. It was then portrayed to us that Idzik rather the cornerback situation for gang green play itself out.

I’m not quite sure what’s worse: having the funds to drastically improve an area of need and opting not to or thinking this stable of cornerbacks would get through the entire season unscathed.

Hope currently rests on the back of No. 39 Antonio Allen, an athletic defensive back who’s in the midst of a safety-to-cornerback conversion. He can certainly ball a little bit and perhaps he has what it takes to stop the bleeding at cornerback but that doesn’t mean the GM is allowed to play us for fools.

It’s very hard to believe Idzik could still have “no regrets whatsoever” about falling asleep at the wheel his level of inactivity in free agency in terms of cornerback play.

Nothing displays faith in your depth like moving a guy from a different position to take over when the top three guys are out, right? Just makes it sort of ironic that Idzik would note he was happy with the ten cornerbacks New York brought to camp in Cortland. Opposite Allen, depth players Ellis Lankster and Darrin Walls are currently splitting time with the first team.

When looking at the entirety of his short tenure, it actually seems like Idzik has the team on the right path. He’s in the middle of a plan that goes far beyond 2014 and it’s becoming expected for him to hold onto money when possible and try to build from within. The jury is still out on a couple of draft picks like Geno Smith and Milliner while the Sheldon Richardson pick was right on the money.

Even so, it doesn’t change the fact that the Jets needed help Idzik was unable to obtain. There’s nothing palpable about Milliner coming back to perform like an upper-echelon corner and there’s no savior waiting to be signed off the scrap heap. Idzik more recently inquired about veteran Asante Samuel but the sides differed on salary. So much for having no regrets.

Now it’s Ryan’s ingenuity and defensive mind that is needed more than ever to keep the Jets from exploitation. And if the Jets’ problems at cornerback continue, the first place to point the finger should be at the general manager’s office.

Tags: Afc East John Idzik New York Jets Rex Ryan

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