As in many sports, NFL teams exist in a cyclical world.
When one philosophy does not work the immediate reaction is to take the opposite approach. When that doesn’t work the cycle spins back to the original approach. And round and round it goes.
Case in point: The Jets’ most recent head-coaching carousel has gone from Al Groh (disciplinarian) to Herman Edwards (players’ coach) to Eric Mangini (disciplinarian) to Rex Ryan (players’ coach).
For the last seven years, Mike Tannenbaum, who was known as a “salary-cap specialist,’’ ran owner Woody Johnson’s football operation as the general manager and had final say on all personnel decisions.
Numbers were more Tannenbaum’s background than player personnel, and that has seemingly left the Jets in the lurch they’re in at the moment — with a depleted roster short on talent.
Based on the list of candidates Johnson has reached out to for interviews that are expected to begin today and last through the weekend and beyond, it is clear the Jets’ owner is placing a priority on his new general manager having a stronger player-personnel background than Tannenbaum did.
This is a good thing.
Johnson’s man should be Tom Gamble, the 49ers director of player personnel. Gamble fits the Jets perfectly because his strength is in personnel and he has done virtually everything else in the game other than long snap and cook team meals.
Gamble, the son of former Eagles president Harry Gamble, has been in the NFL for 25 years and has coached (with the Jets in 1995-96), been a college and pro scout, done contract negotiations and has extensive experience with the draft and the salary cap.
There are available candidates with more experience, but there is not a more well-rounded, qualified candidate than Gamble, who is scheduled to interview with the Jets over the weekend.
With the 49ers, Gamble has had a hand in building every facet of their roster, which will send nine players to the Pro Bowl this month. It’s a roster that produced an 11-4-1 regular season, an NFC West title and the No. 1 playoff seed in the conference, one year removed from making the NFC Championship Game.
In part, that includes the drafting of defensive end Aldon Smith, who had 19 1/2 sacks this season, free safety Dashon Goldson and linebackers Patrick Willis and Navorro Bowman. All are going to the Pro Bowl.
It includes signing key free agents such as defensive end Justin Smith, the first cornerstone of this defense, and cornerback Donte Whitner — also Pro Bowlers.
Gamble has been a part of a culture in San Francisco that builds the team through the draft and stockpiles picks — the opposite philosophy the Jets have employed. He has been a part of building 11 playoff teams — four with the Eagles, five with the Colts, and two with the 49ers.
Gamble worked with Buddy Ryan in Philadelphia and has known Rex Ryan for more than 20 years. So he and Rex, who have a mutual respect for each other, could become a strong team.
The Jets will have competition for Gamble, who already has been interviewed by the Jaguars. If they are unable to land him, a strong alternate choice would be Brian Gaine, the Dolphins assistant general manager and also someone with ties to the Jets, having played tight end for them and been a scout.
Gaine, mentored by Bill Parcells in both Dallas and Miami, like Gamble has had a hand in virtually all facets of the game, including college and pro scouting and the salary cap. He knows the AFC East as well as anyone.
Gaine, in essence, is a less-experienced version of Gamble, but is considered an up-and-comer.
As of Thursday, Gaine had not been contacted by the Jets, but may be on their radar once the first round of interviews is complete. Also as of Thursday, the confirmed candidates on Johnson’s interview list were Gamble, Giants director of scouting Marc Ross, Falcons player personnel director Dave Caldwell and former Browns general manager Tom Heckert, though he is rumored to be joining Andy Reid in Kansas City should Reid accept the Chiefs job.
Johnson’s focus, as he tries to shift the cycle in a different direction, should be on Gamble first and then Gaine.
Edited by Integrity28, 04 January 2013 - 03:48 PM.