Well, that’s not necessarily true, but Tebow’s arrival did play a big part in Tannenbaum’s early exit in New York.
Tannenbaum was with the Jets for almost 15 years in various capacities, including as general manager since 2006. He brought the team to the brink of an AFC championship, twice, and restored some of the faith of the Jets’ community during his time in charge. But after back-to-back trips to the AFC Championship game, the Jets underachieved in each of the past two seasons, failing to reach the playoffs in either year and spelling the end of Tannenbaum’s tenure.
The New York sports market puts a lot of importance on winning. So when you haven’t won a championship in almost 50 years like the Jets, what is already a suffocating situation might feel more like a few years in the hole at Shawshank state penitentiary. After the mess he endured this season, Tannenbaum must have felt like Andy Dufresne emerging from the septic system outside the walls when he was relieved of his duties on Monday.
Even amid all the mess, Tannenbaum pulled out all the stops to try to keep the Jets faithful from turning on him. But an unrelenting commitment to Mark Sanchez and the venture into Tebow territory ultimately did too much damage.
Two years removed from an 11-5 season and one year after Sanchez’s best NFL season — when he achieved career highs in completion percentage, passing yards, touchdowns and passer rating — the Jets fell to a disgraceful 6-10 and watched as their quarterback controversy turned into nothing less than a sideshow circus act. That charade wasn’t Tebow’s fault, though — it was Tannenbaum’s.
Tebow didn’t force the Jets to bring him into the fold. He didn’t ask Rex Ryan to use him as a wildcat quarterback, or to play on special teams. He didn’t plan to kill Sanchez’s confidence under center or hinder his development as a passer. He simply came to New York looking to compete for a starting job. Tannenbaum was the one who foiled the Jets’ offense. He was the one who effectively handicapped the growth of two promising young quarterbacks.
So, while Monday marked the official end of Tannenbaum’s time with the Jets, the timer started months ago when the Tebow trade was consummated and the Jets’ season slowly started to deteriorate.
Tannenbaum is a smart guy with a great football acumen, but he has made some disastrous decisions, and that’s why he’s back on the unemployment line. That’s not to say his days in NFL front offices are over, but it could be — and should be — some time before a team gives him full control of the reins again.