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Rex Ryan Isn't the Only Man to Blame

Mike Tannenbaum shouldn't skate for what's happened to Jets this year

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Blame has to start from the top down within the Jets.

    You don't have to look far to find people expressing some glee at the precarious position the Jets and their head coach find themselves in right now.

    Rex Ryan makes himself a massive target every time he steps in front of a microphone and plenty of people are taking their shots now that the Jets have once again found themselves needing help to qualify for the playoffs after Ryan guaranteed bigger things. From the reasonable (Ryan is overpromising and underdelivering) to the ridiculous (the team loses because of Ryan's mouth), the criticisms are mounting.

    Ryan made it clear Monday that he doesn't plan to change his style because of what's gone down this year. While it would be nice to hear him give a more measured analysis of his team and their abilities, there isn't much chance that being more honest about Mark Sanchez's shortcomings or Eric Smith's inability to play safety well would result in a better record.

    Quite frankly, what the Jets need to be a better team in the future is a better team. They need more talent and more depth across the board or they will continue to be a team trying to punch its way uphill instead of a team that can run roughshod over their opposition.

    Mike Tannenbaum is the person who holds the most responsibility on that front and the feeding frenzy around Ryan (and Sanchez and Brian Schottenheimer, for that matter) should be directed more in his direction than it has been. Ryan obviously has input into the personnel decisions made by the team, but Tannenbaum is the one who is ultimately responsible for giving Ryan players to coach.

    And he didn't do a very good job of it this season. There have been plenty of problems plaguing the Jets this season, but all of them come back to issues that were obvious when the year got underway.

    The safety play hasn't been good -- something that should have been obvious after years of seeing Smith play, but Tannenbaum didn't address it in the offseason. The offensive line had no depth, leaving the team no choice but to stick with Wayne Hunter well past the point it became obvious that he wasn't good enough to start at right tackle.

    The list goes on and on. Paring players from last year's roster gutted the special teams rolls, the wide receiver depth was abysmal and Aaron Maybin falling into their laps doesn't obscure the lack of consistent pass rushers on defense.

    For all of the shouting about Ryan, he achieved just about what you'd expect a team with this roster to achieve during an NFL season. The fact that he so loudly proclaimed this team was better than it was serves to make him look worse, but it also serves to hide the fact that he went to battle with the army he had instead of a force designed for optimal success.

    Whatever happens this weekend in terms of the Jets' longshot playoff hopes, it's important that everyone is honest about the events that brought them to this fate in the first place.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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