SBD/December 31, 2012/Franchises

Black Monday: Jaguars Fire GM Gene Smith After Four Years; Jets Part Ways With Tannenbaum

Johnson (r) said Tannenbaum (c) would not return, but Ryan (l) will remain
The Jaguars as expected fired GM Gene Smith Monday morning, though the “status of coach Mike Mularkey, his staff and the personnel department headed by Smith remains in doubt,” according to Ryan O’Halloran of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. Smith had “two years remaining on his contract and was one of 10 original Jaguars employees.” However, the team “never qualified for the playoffs in Smith’s four years in charge of the front office.” The move is the “first major firing” for Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan (JACKSONVILLE.com, 12/31). Former Jaguars Owner Wayne Weaver "convinced Khan to keep Smith last year" after Khan bought the team. Smith was allowed to "lead the search for a new coaching staff" (ESPN.com, 12/31). In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette writes Smith needed to "be a goner because his fingerprints are on this team more than anyone.” Smith brought in “almost every player on this talent-challenged roster.” He “selected head coach Mike Mularkey, with Khan's approval, and convinced the sideline boss to retain several assistants from the Jack Del Rio regime.” Frenette: “Every major Smith move made has yielded little in return. Too often, it's been a disaster” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 12/31).

TANNENBAUM OUT IN N.Y.: Jets Owner Woody Johnson Monday said GM Mike Tannenbaum will not return to the team after 15 years with the franchise. The team will conduct a search for a new GM with the services of Korn/Ferry Int’l. Jed Hughes will lead the search. Coach Rex Ryan will return for the ’13 season (Jets). In N.Y., Mark Hale reports there had been "speculation Tannenbaum ... would be asked to stay in the organization in another capacity," but Johnson "instead chose to make a clean break" (NYPOST.com, 12/31). Also, in N.Y., Ben Shpigel notes Tannenbaum's tenure "will be remembered for drafting cornerstones like Darrelle Revis and Nick Mangold and his aggressive moves in free agency and the trade market that repositioned the Jets as contenders." However, he also failed to "stock the team with adequate depth and, particularly in the past few years, a meager draft haul" (NYTIMES.com, 12/31). CBSSPORTS.com’s Mike Freeman cited sources as saying that Johnson “isn't just unhappy with the Jets' dismal season.” Johnson is “unhappy with what he views as a franchise that can't keep its business behind closed doors.” League officials “are wondering is if Johnson's unhappiness with how the team is run will stop” with Tannenbaum’s firing (CBSSPORTS.com, 12/29).

START OF A TREND: ESPN's Adam Schefter said this is "going to be the first offseason, or postseason, where there is going to be a ton of general managers who are let go." Schefter: "We are going to see five, six, seven general managers who are sent packing. We never see that. We expect head coaches to be let go at this time of year. But general managers, for the first time, are drawing as much scrutiny and criticism and interest as ever before” ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 12/31). 
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