Mike Tannenbaum Defends Decision to Bring Tim Tebow to the Jets and Says He Leaves New York With His Head Held High

January 30, 2013 – 9:20 am by Chris Fedor

It was just two years ago when the New York Jets had visions of a Super Bowl. Since that time, New York has had back-to-back disappointing seasons. The Jets’ 14 wins combined in the last two seasons led to New York making some changes, including letting go of General Manager Mike Tannenbaum.

Tannenbaum spent 16 years with the Jets, the last seven as GM, and even though he had a lot of success, going to back-to-back AFC Championship games, he also made some head-scratching decisions that led to him losing his job and led the Jets into this roster mess that they are in right now.

Mike Tannenbaum joined WFAN in New York with Mike Francesa to talk about how different things have been for him, why he decided to stay quiet about the Jets’ decision, how he feels about the decision the Jets made to let him go and let Rex Ryan stay, what happened the two years since going to the AFC Championship, what went into the Tim Tebow decision, whether he believes Tebow was given a fair shot and whether he thinks anything that has been said about him is unfair.

How different things have been for him:

“It’s certainly been different. After 16 years with the Jets, I’m home and playing general manager with the house, which is a little bit different.”

On why he decided to stay quiet about this:

“Out of respect for the Jets and their process. Then, until John Idzik got the chance to speak, I thought that was the proper way to go, so once they spoke and John spoke I figured this would be theĀ appropriateĀ time.”

How he feels about the decision the Jets made to let him go and let Rex Ryan stay:

“Obviously I was disappointed with the decision, but I certainly understood it. I had 16 great years there and seven as a general manager. We fell short this year and Woody Johnson felt like he had to make a decision and I understand that.”

What happened the two years since going to the AFC Championship:

“I think a lot of little things add up to those things happening. We had a ton of injuries this year and I think an area where I fell short, we had depth at certain positions more than others, certainly at corner. When we lost Darrelle (Revis), as great of a player as he was, we still played well on defense. Losing (Santonio) Holmes was tough and factoring (Dustin) Keller, Stephen Hill and (Jeremy) Kerley, we could absorb all those injuries at the skills players. Then the quarterback, Mark had played better earlier in his career and the 26 turnovers were a problem. I think we all had a hand in going 6-10.”

What went into the Tim Tebow decision:

“Going back to last season, we finished 8-8 and we collectively really thought we lost something with Brad Smith. Brad was a guy, good change of pace guy, good things happened when the ball was in his hand, so when Tebow became available, we got in a room, we talked about it and then, with the price being a fourth-round pick, we felt like here’s a guy, ball in his hands, good things have happened. (Host: Did Denver call you about Tebow?) I called them. It was my decision.”

Was it your brainchild or someone else’s and you adopted it?:

“We talked about it. Rex (Ryan) and I talked about it and then we brought Tony (Sparano) into the mix and obviously Tony is a guy that has taken that type of offense before and had success with it in Miami, and we felt like it was going to be another club in the bag to help us on offense. That was our thinking when we made the decision. Obviously it didn’t work out the way we had hoped but that was our decision.”

Do you think Tebow was given a fair shot?

“We always say competition brings out the best and all along we thought Mark (Sanchez) gave us the best chance to win, and that was the decision that was made.”

Did you feel, as things end, anything that was said about your regime or stay was unfair?

“I had 16 great years and I’m going to look back with great memories. Twenty-four months ago we were five points short of going to the Super Bowl, and I’m going to leave with my head held high knowing that we did it the right way, never cut a corner and we fell a little short.”

Whether he still has faith in Mark Sanchez as a player:

“It’s interesting, he had 16 starts in college and then he comes out and he’s one of five quarterbacks on the whole planet to win 30 or more games the first three years and then he plays worse, so it really doesn’t line up from a logic standpoint. I think next year is a critical year for him and I will keep rooting for him like I do a lot of those people in the building.”

Listen to Mike Tannenbaum on WFAN in New York here

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