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NFL executives high on Jets’ new GM


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MOBILE, Ala. — Rod Graves laughs about the meeting now. It was the early-1990s on a practice field at Duke University when he saw his old friend John Idzik.

The two had been ballboys together with the Philadelphia Eagles, both the teenage sons of members of the Eagles organization. Graves had lost track of his old friend before running into Idzik, then a graduate assistant for the Blue Devils, while on a scouting trip for the Bears.

Idzik told Graves that he had been working at IBM after graduating from Dartmouth with a degree in mathematics when he decided to quit and take an entry-level football job at Duke.

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Jon Garcia

GANG POWER: John Idzik (right), who will be introduced as the Jets new GM at a press conference today, sits with owner Woody Johnson and coach Rex Ryan during Senior Bowl practices yesterday.

“He told me, ‘I just had this nagging desire to get into pro football,’ ” Graves, fired as the Cardinals GM on New Year’s Eve, recounted this week. “He said, ‘I quit my job at IBM making six figures. Here I am a GA on salary on Duke University.’ I said, ‘What in the hell have you been drinking?’ At first, you had to think he was off his rocker.

“It ended up working out very well for him.”

Idzik will be introduced this morning as the new general manager of the Jets at a news conference at the team’s headquarters in Florham Park, N.J. The 52-year old son of a coach has risen from a low-level assistant coach at Duke to one of the most powerful jobs in the NFL.

The questions will be plenty today for Idzik, who faces what figures to be the ultimate test of his 20-year career in the NFL. He joins a Jets team coming off a 6-10 season that has salary-cap problems, uncertainty at quarterback, a roster lacking much star power and an inherited head coach.

Graves, who brought Idzik to the Cardinals in 2004, believes the Jets found the perfect person to fix their team.

“He’s probably one of the brightest guys I’ve ever worked with in terms of dealing with rosters and players and the finance behind player salaries and so forth,” Graves said. “He’s very well organized. I think he does a great job at future projections and roster management for making decisions today that will allow for flexibility down the road.He’s very good at that.”

Idzik attended the Senior Bowl practices this week here, his first duties as Jets GM. He sat yesterday alongside Jets owner Woody Johnson, who flew down to spend some time with his new hire. He and head coach Rex Ryan have spent the past three days getting to know each other. Their relationship will be under close scrutiny. Ryan, who has two years left on his contract, could be coaching for his job this season with Idzik as the person who controls his fate.

Idzik, Ryan and Johnson all declined to speak with reporters this week, waiting for today’s formal news conference.

Plenty of other people were talking about Idzik at the Senior Bowl. The hire was praised in NFL circles. Idzik is a popular person with agents and with fellow executives. Many of them believe he will not only help the Jets on the field, but also improve their image off of it, where they have been characterized as a circus under Ryan.

According to a source, Johnson did not want anyone who had ever worked with Ryan before. Part of what he was looking for in a new GM was someone to rein Ryan in.

“They hired a grown up,” one league source said. “He will change the culture there. He is just what [Ryan] needs.”

The only knock on Idzik has been his limited personnel experience. He spent the past six seasons as the Seahawks vice president of football administration. His primary responsibilities were negotiating contracts and managing the team’s salary cap. But he also did some scouting for the Seahawks last year. Idzik’s son attends Wake Forest and Seahawks GM John Schneider said Idzik did a lot of scouting in that region for the team.

“He’s a lifelong football guy,” Schneider said. “He’s been raised in the industry. He has a strong passion for the game. He has knowledge in scouting, coaching, obviously his salary cap work.”

Idzik grew up with his father coaching in the NFL. His father even spent three years as the Jets offensive coordinator under Walt Michaels in the late-1970s. Idzik played wide receiver at Dartmouth and never shook the football bug.

He eventually joined the Buccaneers in their personnel department and spent 11 seasons there, rising up to assistant GM and helping build a Super Bowl winner. Graves brought him to Arizona as the senior director of football operations and then he went to Seattle.

Now, his football life gets another chapter. No one thinks he’s crazy for walking away from IBM now.

“I think the Jets organization is getting a very smart, even-keeled man,” Schneider said. “He is a team player but he has very strong beliefs. I’m sure he’s expressed those beliefs to Mr. Johnson.”

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According to a source, Johnson did not want anyone who had ever worked with Ryan before. Part of what he was looking for in a new GM was someone to rein Ryan in.

They hired a grown up,” one league source said. “He will change the culture there. He is just what [Ryan] needs.”

Not for nothing, but this is exactly what I've been saying for a while now. :)

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Good positive read for the Jets?

There is something up...I can feel it.

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Good positive read for the Jets?

There is something up...I can feel it.

Got to build it up so they can tear it back down!

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Two grownups are better than one.

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News conference is 11 am on SNY, in case anyone wants to watch.

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News conference is 11 am on SNY, in case anyone wants to watch.

How about online? At work so I don't have access to a tv. Hopefully they stream it on their website.

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How about online? At work so I don't have access to a tv. Hopefully they stream it on their website.

NewYorkJets.com

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Happy talk nonsense...

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Not for nothing, but this is exactly what I've been saying for a while now. :)

Indeed.

To me, Rex was sort of ruined (but perhaps fixable) like Sanchez. Bring in a rookie, high ceiling potential, but don't surround him with people that will groom him into the role we've brought him here to perform.

IMO, Rex has needed a GM and coaches around him that help him be the head coach, rather than over-promoted def coordinator.

I'm psyched about the potential this represents.

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"I'm very impressed with the personnel staff." "We have a real strong group here." Yeah, nothing is going to change.

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He's already met with Bradyway and Cohen. Came back impressed. Resume doom and gloom.

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At least he wouldn't give Sanchez a vote of confidence...

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I like him. Uses big words.

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"I'm very impressed with the personnel staff." "We have a real strong group here." Yeah, nothing is going to change.

He's already met with Bradyway and Cohen. Came back impressed. Resume doom and gloom.

Haven't you guys seen enough press conferences to know that they're 100% lip service?

I'm sure a lot of guys will stick around, but I expect new hires and some reshuffling after the draft. No matter what he says today.

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Haven't you guys seen enough press conferences to know that they're 100% lip service?

I'm sure a lot of guys will stick around, but I expect new hires and some reshuffling after the draft. No matter what he says today.

We'll see won't we...
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You really expect him to say anything significant-yeah he is going to say Mark is being cut tomorrow and i am firing all my scounting staff

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You really expect him to say anything significant-yeah he is going to say Mark is being cut tomorrow and i am firing all my scounting staff

I would've liked to see a recognition that the personnel department has been sh*t.
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If I hear Play Like a Jet one more time, I'm going to lose it.

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I would've liked to see a recognition that the personnel department has been sh*t.

No one says that in a press conference. They show it with their actions.

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No one says that in a press conference. They show it with their actions.

Bingo. Especially not about a personnel department he's pretty much stuck with through this coming draft, whether he likes it or not.

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If I hear Play Like a Jet one more time, I'm going to lose it.

C'mon man, don't get angry. Just play like a Jet bro. Just play like a Jet.

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I will have to say +1 to Idzik right now. For starters, he give me the impression that he knows many of the key aspects you need to have as a GM.

And as many pointed out. He is of course smart to know that he´ll have to go thru the draft with what he´s got in his hand for now. Then I think he will evaluate the FO staff as well.

That he is totally different than WT Tanny should by it self be another +1.

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"I'm very impressed with the personnel staff." "We have a real strong group here." Yeah, nothing is going to change.

youre right, move on then, nothing to see here.

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They are just happy to be able to count out one team for sure.

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