Jets coach Rex Ryan has explained his decision to leave the building on cut-down day to attend his son’s college football game. Jets owner Woody Johnson has said he had no problem with Ryan being absent. Meanwhile, Ryan’s immediate supervisor remains conspicuously silent on the situation.
G.M. John Idzik still hasn’t said he was fine with Rex not being at work on the day the rosters of all teams cut from 75 men to 53, giving a franchise short on talent a chance to start picking over other teams’ trash. Even during an unplanned appearance with reporters after practice on Wednesday, Idzik said nothing about the situation.
The transcript circulated by the team shows that Idzik wasn’t asked a specific question about Ryan’s day trip to South Carolina. Idzik at one point said he’s “fully supportive” of Ryan, but that came in response to a question about the decision to play quarterback Mark Sanchez during the fourth quarter of the third preseason game.
When it comes to shaping a message, the team shouldn’t wait for the right button to be pushed or a broad statement to be interpreted a certain way. The Jets should have realized that Idzik needed to say something direct and unequivocal about the situation.
Idzik actually needed to say something sooner than Wednesday. Ideally, a statement from Idzik should have been released the moment Ryan began to draw criticism, articulating for Ryan the explanation Ryan eventually had to provide on his own behalf. The cuts, as Ryan said, had been made on Friday. And Ryan and Idzik, as Ryan said, were in communication all day about possible waiver claims.
Even more ideally, the Jets should have gotten in front of the story before it happened, anticipating that an embattled coach would be criticized for disappearing on a fairly important non-playing day and disclosing affirmatively the fact that Rex was leaving for the day and that a plan was in place for the work to get done without him there. If the Jets had merely anticipated the criticism that would come, the Jets could have minimized or avoided it by disclosing it in advance, and by characterizing it as a non-issue.
For more on that subject and several other NFL-related topics, here’s former Chiefs G.M. and Patriots V.P. of player personnel Scott Pioli from Wednesday’s PFT Live.