It can sometimes be difficult to separate fact from fiction with the Jets and their current search for a new general manager is illustrating that all too well.
In the last couple of days, the Jets have added several names to the list of candidates for the job as the search has expanded out from the handful of people who were interviewed at the end of last week for the job. There were reports that a couple of those interviewees had impressed the team -- 49ers exec Tom Gamble and then-Falcons exec David Caldwell -- but neither one has the job.
Caldwell is the new G.M. in Jacksonville (where he fired coach Mike Mularkey on Thursday, something to keep in mind as you read on) and the simplest explanation for the widening net is that the Jets need to dig deeper now that a guy who might have been their pick has decided to head elsewhere. That's not ideal, but it is certainly better than just grabbing someone else because you happen to have interviewed them already.
Another easy explanation of their long list of names is that they want to get the broadest possible look at the landscape before pulling the trigger on an important hire. The team hired a consultant to help them identify candidates and it makes little sense not to get your money's worth when it comes to seeing who might be out there.
The group of candidates includes, among others, former Bears G.M. Jerry Angelo, Steelers cap management guru Omar Khan, Giants director of college scouting Marc Ross, Dolphins exec Brian Gaine and even the G.M. of the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, Jim Popp. It's a wide-ranging group that's even harder to read than most G.M. candidates, almost all of whom come to the job known only to football insiders because they've never held a job with that kind of responsibility before.
Analyzing the quality of the search is difficult under those circumstances, but, on the face of it, talking to a lot of people hardly seems like a bad thing. There are a lot of talented folks in the NFL and you never know when you might be blown away or when you might hear something of value from a candidate who doesn't wind up getting the job.
Since these are the Jets, though, there's no avoiding a less positive spin on things. That take revolves around Woody Johnson's decision to make keeping Rex Ryan as coach a precondition for the general manager and the owner's statement that Ryan will be involved in the search process.
It's putting it mildly to say that giving someone say in hiring the man who should have the power to fire him is a conflict of interest since the Jets need to identify the best person for the job and not the person who meshes the best with Ryan. When you've got guys choosing other jobs over the Jets (Tom Telesco was on the wishlist before he joined the Chargers), it is fair to ask why and, in this case, it's hard to ignore the Rex-sized elephant in the room.
Mike Tannenbaum was more than willing to give Ryan the opportunity to take up all the air in the room, but a new hire is going to be cut from a different cloth. That doesn't mean they won't be able to get along with Ryan, but it does mean that the Jets have to be willing to change some of their organizational whims to accommodate the man who should be in charge of the football operations.
Basically, there's a good reason and a bad reason for the Jets to be looking under every rock for their next general manager. Given everything else that's gone on with the team of late, it's not hard to guess which way we're leaning on that front.