I don't want to make it sound like I am comparing Mike Smith and Rex Ryan. I'm just saying that the Jets problems go beyond the coaching of the team, and they lie largely in the personnel department, IMHO.
One of the reasons why we haven't seen these things happen in Atlanta is because the Falcons putting a premium on football character. Even though I crap on TD quite a bit, I do think he's light years better Tannenbaum.
The Jets problems started when they made their bed with Sanchez. Now, I don't necessarily fault them for that because I too thought Sanchez was going to be a really good NFL QB. That initial mistake has been compounded by other personnel mistakes, such as rewarding Holmes with a $50 million contract, the Tebow trade, making their bed with Shonn Greene at RB, failing to replace Damien Woody at RT, bad/lacking investment in pass rushers, etc.
Again, I'm not absolving Rex of blame in making those decisions as I'm sure he had his fair share of input on many/all of them. But ultimately the personnel decisions aren't his responsibility. They are the GMs, and thus fall at the feet of Mike Tannenbaum.
The lack of leadership there I think has a lot to do with personnel. Rex came in, brought in Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard, and had Shaun Ellis. Having an O-line anchored by Mangold, Faneca, Brandon Moore, Damien Woody.
Not many is left from that group.
Not to take anything from Smitty, but he is greatly aided by having a franchise QB like Matt Ryan. The comparison to what it's like with Sanchez is basically as if he had decided to stick with Chris Redman (like many Falcon fans wanted) and drafted Glenn Dorsey in 2008. Roddy would be significantly different player today if he didn't have Ryan. There's no Tony Gonzalez trade, no Julio Jones trade. There's no inheriting John Abraham or Jonathan Babineaux, or if he did (in this comparison, they would represent Ellis), they would be gone after his 2nd season.
Again, the Jets have focused on accumulating talent not leadership. Antonio Cromartie, Holmes, etc. are players in key positions on their roster, and they all have zero character. It would be like the equivalent if the Falcons had opted to keep DeAngelo Hall back in '08 rather than kicking him out the door.
There was a house-cleaning in Atlanta when TD & Smitty came in. There wasn't really one in New York. And what has been has been paced out over the past 4 years.
Now you can get on Rex Ryan for lacking the leadership to make up for this difference. But I think it's easy to say, this guy is a great leader when he has a good locker room. It's easy to say Smitty's leadership is great because he has guys like Ryan, Gonzo, etc. and a wealth of guys that put winning first as opposed to being me-first players. Those guys didn't simply "adopt" Smitty's attitude
Do I think Smitty is a better leader than Rex? Yes. But I don't believe that whatever leadership he possesses is going to inspire the likes of Santonio or Cromartie to be dramatically different and better players/leaders. I don't believe Sanchez is going to suddenly become a good decision and accurate passer because Smitty is a great leader. I don't think Smitty's leadership is going to make up for the huge void opened by losing arguably the best defensive player in the NFL. I don't think Smitty can lead a group helmed by Aaron Maybin, Vernon Gholston, Calvin Pace, and Bryan Thomas to be good pass rushers.
I think what you have in New York is a clusterfudge of bad personnel decisions, that are compound any shortcomings Rex Ryan may have. But I believe if you had that many personnel decisions anywhere, whether it was Vince Lombardi or Belichick running the team, you're not going to see dramatically better results.
The fact that the Jets were still in playoff contention in Week 14 despite losing their best player, and having arguably one of the 3 worst QBs in the league IMHO is actually an indicator of how good a coach Rex is.
But if I'm Woody Johnson, I'm thinking I definitely need a QB, and a new GM. New coach? Meh. If the new GM is adamant that Rex must go, then so be it. But I'd be looking to salvage that if possible.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.