Sunday notes: Ryan, Gamble have history

January, 6, 2013
1/06/13
5:00
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A wild-card weekend look at the Jets and the NFL:

1. Fathers & Sons: Their fathers clashed in Philadelphia, but the kids were all right. The kids -- Rex Ryan and Tom Gamble -- soon could be working with each other. They met 20-plus years ago, when their dads ran the Eagles. Buddy Ryan was the coach, Harry Gamble the president. And there were plenty of fireworks.

The outspoken Ryan took a lot of public shots at management and ownership, causing a chilly relationship with Gamble. Rex and Tom were in their late 20s. Gamble worked in an entry-level position in the Eagles' pro personnel department. Ryan, who already had a coaching job in college, hung around the Eagles' training camp in the summers. From all indications, they weren't enemies, but they weren't best buds, either.

To say a casual relationship from 20-plus years ago can provide the foundation for a sound coach-GM tandem is a reach; the Jets are nuts if they hire Gamble -- the front-runner in the GM search -- based on that. But, hey, it would make for some interesting conversation if Buddy and Harry show up at the same time to watch their sons.

2. Jersey boys: Another relationship to watch is the one between Gamble and Terry Bradway, the Jets' senior personnel executive. Bradway, who has Philadelphia/South Jersey ties, has known the Gamble family a long time. In fact, Bradway and Tom Gamble both earned a master's degree from Rowan University in N.J., six years apart. Bradway still has some influence in the organization -- he and assistant GM Scott Cohen are running the football operation during the GM search -- and he could be pushing for Gamble, assuming owner Woody Johnson hires from the outside.

3. The Gamble: Let's take a closer look at Gamble's work in San Francisco. He started out in pro personnel; it wasn't until 2010 that he got involved in the draft. The '10 draft was a winner, having produced three starters -- RT Anthony Davis, G Mike Iupati (Pro Bowl) and LB Navorro Bowman (Pro Bowl), a great third-round pick.

The '11 draft was basically a two-man haul -- OLB Aldon Smith (Pro Bowl) and QB Colin Kaepernick. The jury's still out on Kaepernick. If he develops into a consistent winner, the draft will be a smashing success. Anytime you can get a stud pass-rusher and a starting QB, you're doing OK. It's still early to draw conclusions, but the '12 draft has produced nothing. Not one of the seven picks has come close to making an impact, including WR A.J. Jenkins, the No. 1 choice. Gamble didn't become a hot commodity based on the last draft, that's for sure.

4. Niner envy: With all this Gamble/49ers talk, I can't help but think back to a Ryan quote from the run-up to the Jets-49ers game in September. Ryan said the Jets' pro personnel department, which grades every player from every team, assigned blue-chip status to seven players on the 49ers' defense. "When you look at it, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that many," he said. The Jets went out and proved the 49ers' superiority by losing 34-0.

5. Mike'd Up: In his time with the Jets, former GM Mike Tannenbaum was stereotyped as a salary cap/contract guy -- and not a "football" man. Let's try to clear that up. While it's true he has a degree in accounting and a law degree, Tannenbaum spent six years in pro personnel prior to becoming the Jets' GM in 2006.

He made scouting trips, attended the combine and spent an inordinate amount of time in coaches' meetings, trying to absorb as much as he could. In fact, he delegated most of the contract stuff in recent years to Ari Nissim, director of football administration, so he could focus on the football operation. On Tannenbaum's watch, the Jets had 22 Pro Bowl appearances and reached the playoffs with two different head coaches. That couldn't have happened with a bean counter in charge. You certainly can criticize his performance over the past two years, but don't say it was because he was a "numbers" guy.

6. Easy come, easy go: As soon as the waiver period opens in February, the Jets will clear $30.7 million off their salary cap in less time than it takes to hail a cab in New York. They will release LB Calvin Pace ($8.56 million savings), LB Bart Scott ($7.15 million), OT Jason Smith ($12 million) and S Eric Smith ($3 million). Those moves will result in only $4.5 million in dead money. The problem -- and it's a big problem -- is that they will have only 10 starters under contract and not much cap room.

7. Embarrassment of Rich's: Fellow "Blues Brother" Sal Paolantonio of ESPN came up with this fascinating nugget: Andy Reid, in his last four seasons with the Eagles, went 33-31. Long-ago Eagles coach Rich Kotite went 36-28 in four seasons -- the same Kotite who ran the Jets into the ground. How do you feel about that, Chiefs fans?

8. Syracuse's hot commodity: It sure looks like Syracuse's Doug Marrone -- a former Jets OL coach -- is trying his best to get to the NFL. He already has interviewed for the head-coaching vacancies at the Browns and the Bills, with the Eagles and Chargers coming up. Some might wonder why so many teams would be interested in a 25-25 coach. Here's why: He's an offensive-minded coach, and that's important nowadays. He worked under Sean Payton. He took a program in shambles and built it into something respectable. I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up with the Browns or Bills.

9. R & R: There could be some changes coming in Dallas. Imagine if defensive coordinator Rob Ryan got fired and came to the Jets. Could this city handle two Ryans?

10. Super Bowl predictions: Broncos versus 49ers. And Peyton Manning wins the Super Bowl in his hometown of New Orleans.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter
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