Right after the Jets lost to the Dolphins on Sunday, team owner Woody Johnson spoke with reporters and said that he would be making a decision about his head coach's future sometime this week. It was notable, however, that he never, not even mildly, expressed support for Eric Mangini's future. Several hours later, 2:40 in the morning to be exact, the Jets announced there would be a press conference at 10 a.m. Monday featuring Johnson and GM Mike Tannenbaum. At that presser, Mangini's firing was announced and the Jets began the search for a new coach.
There were ample reasons to fire Mangini. His in-game decision making was questionable, to say the least, and the team's lackadaisacal play over the final month reflects poorly on the coach. The reason why push came to shove, howver, is something he had very little to do with. The two men doing the firing, on the other hand, were directly responsible for bringing Brett Favre to New York. Mangini didn't do a good job after the Jets improved to 8-3, but Favre's play was worse and the owner and general manager have to bear the responsibility for bringing him to New York.
Favre's here because Tannenbaum wanted to put the cherries on top of the offseason sundae he'd created, and because Johnson wanted to sell pricey seats to a new stadium. Mangini may have welcomed the move, but he wasn't the guy who had the power to pull the trigger. There wasn't any way to extricate Favre from the lineup once his play began to rot, even if he was injured, so, in some ways, Mangini had to coach around his quarterback.
Tannenbaum and Mangini ascended to their posts as a team, yet they didn't share the blame for a season that went terribly wrong.If it's the collapse that makes it impossible to bring Mangini back in 2009, then Tannenbaum should also be feeling the burn of a move that went south. If a building collapses because of cheap steel, you don't only fire the guy who installed it. You fire the contractor who gave him shoddy materials too, but football ain't construction.
Ultimately, the decision about the head coach comes down to Johnson. Make no mistake about it, though, firing Mangini was something Tannenbaum had to agree with if he wanted to keep his power. Otherwise, Tannenbaum would have to take the heat for making the Favre move, something he's unwilling to do and a move he's unwilling to admit didn't work.