Opinion: NFL Draft shows Idzik in control of Jets franchise

Jets owner Woody Johnson has ceded control, at least somewhat, to new general manager John Idzik. Credit: Getty Images
Jets owner Woody Johnson has ceded control, at least somewhat, to new general manager John Idzik.
Credit: Getty Images

If nothing else, the conclusion of the NFL Draft represented not just a fresh start for the Jets organization, but an entire cleansing from the old ways.

There is a culture change taking place right now by general manager John Idzik, whose message of building through the draft and increasing competition across the board was the main reason he was hired by owner Woody Johnson in late January. For the past four offseasons (and perhaps even longer), the Jets had been bent on big names and splashy signings. Idzik, instead, is going with young and unproven players as his formula for long-term success.

The emphasis in this draft on taking the best player available and filling needs is a stark departure from recent drafts. It seems as if Johnson is finally prepared to listen to Idzik the proselyte. The new general manager is preaching a mentality that has led to sustainable success in places like New England and Baltimore and was used to build the rising powers in San Francisco and Seattle.

Johnson, who in the past never saw a big name he didn’t like, is a convert. Monday’s news of the release of Tim Tebow only underscores this new paradigm.

This team will go young, will draft players and will build from the bottom up. Wheeling and dealing and short-term fixes have no place for a team that has bought high and sold low for too many years.

Across the board, the Jets got more talented but also deeper via this draft, ending an era of entitlement for star players who have been overpaid and underperformed for far too long.

Instead of playing fast and loose with their selections like in years past, the Jets held onto seven of their eight picks, trading away only their fourth-round selection for former Saints running back Chris Ivory, who could be a potential star in New York.

With three selections in the first 39 picks of the draft, the Jets netted three selections who all were all viewed as potential Top-10 picks. Nothing will be given to these players — no prominent or even starting role handed to them to justify their selection. Not Dee Milliner, not Sheldon Richardson and not even Geno Smith, taken in the second round and likely the quarterback who will replace Mark Sanchez.

An emphasis on the draft as a way to build a team is underscored by the similar mindset it will breed in this newest crop of young Jets, who will learn from the onset what playing for this team means.

It is unlikely that each of Idzik’s seven draft picks will develop into a star but what they can and will do is develop a culture of winning around this team. The guns for hire that marked the past five seasons in Jets land resulted in locker room dissension and a toxic atmosphere.

Now the Jets will start bringing in players who, from the onset of their professional careers, will grow up in the Jets’ way of doing things through competition. Doing this every year will only enforce that in their locker room.

“Play Like a Jet” won’t just be a slogan that works when the Jets win; instead it will become a part of the team’s chemistry as players are signed and brought along in their scheme. Over time, the mantra will become a mindset as more and more draft picks brought in by Idzik take on prominent roles in the locker room.

And it might just work.

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.


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