INDIANAPOLIS — The influence of Pete Carroll was apparent on New York Jets general manager John Idzik, who served the Seattle Seahawks as a salary cap expert for the past six seasons before taking his new job last month.
Idzik emphasized “competition” as his main talking point when describing the transformation he’d like to see in helping Jets coach Rex Ryan revamp the roster.
“Maybe I rubbed off on Pete,” joked Idzik. “Obviously, I have a heck of a lot of respect for Pete Carroll. And I enjoyed our time together. But I think that competition is at the very heart of what you do in the National Football League. I don’t think it’s unique to one team, or one individual. It’s thrown around lightly, but you really have to ingrain it in what you do. And that’s certainly what Pete’s about. And when you do that, I think you give yourself the best chance as a team.”
Idzik didn’t take long to make his mark on the Jets, releasing safety Eric Smith, offensive lineman Jason Smith, tight end Josh Baker and linebackers Bart Scott and Calvin Pace, freeing up more than $30 million of salary cap space.
The job is a homecoming of sorts for Idzik, whose father, also John, served as the team’s offensive coordinator from 1977-79.
The mild-mannered Idzik, who stayed mostly in the background while with Seattle, found himself under the intense scrutiny of the New York media on Thursday. He was asked a steady barrage of questions about injured defensive back Darrelle Revis and his future with the team.
“I think the Jets are going to find that he’ll be a strong, even-keeled presence for them,” Seahawks general manager John Schneider said about Idzik.
Speculation had the Jets shopping Revis to other teams around the league looking for a potential trade. But Ryan said there’s “no validity” to those rumors.
“We’re happy to have Darrelle as a Jet,” Idzik said. “And we hope to have Darrelle as a Jet.”
Idzik and Ryan also will have to figure out the quarterback situation, with Mark Sanchez likely receiving competition for the starting job in 2013.
That competition could come through the draft, or in the form of a trade with Idzik’s former club for backup Matt Flynn. However, Idzik could not speak about the LSU product because Flynn’s under contract with another team, and that could be construed as tampering.
“I like the idea of any quarterback who comes in competing,” Idzik said. “And I don’t think it’s limited to who we have. That’s going to be a constant process. So who can we bring in, or who can we draft? Or who are the incumbents that are coming along well that spice up that competition? Again, that’s an ongoing thing.”
Idzik did not rule out the possibility of Tim Tebow remaining with New York and competing for the starting job.
“My view on Tim Tebow is he’s a highly competitive athlete,” Idzik said. “Everywhere he’s been, he’s been a highly competitive athlete. And what we do, we’re going to provide as much competition as we can on a daily basis, at every position, quarterback included. And we’ll see how that rolls out. And I would think that Tim would be game for that. He’s a competitor.”
NFC WEST A BEAST
San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke talked about the increased competition in the NFC West, and how the 49ers will have their work cut out for them in defending the division title, and ultimately getting back to the Super Bowl.
“We’re going to have to go back to work,” he said. “It’s an awfully good division, a competitive division. It’s a physical division. All four teams play a physical brand of football. They play very well on the defensive side of the ball.
“Offensively, there’s a lot of playmakers within the division. And it’s a well-coached division. In order to stay on top of that division, we’ve got to get better. We can’t stay the same, and we certainly can’t take a step back.”
Bruce Arians, the new coach of the Arizona Cardinals, compared the NFC West to the AFC North back when he was the offensive coordinator for Pittsburgh.
“This division reminds me a lot now of the AFC North, the way the teams are running the football and playing defense,” Arians said. “I think each division is extremely difficult. But right now the West is really tough.”
Schneider understands his team likely will have to overtake the 49ers in the NFC West to reach the Super Bowl next season.
“It’s turned into a great rivalry,” Schneider said. “I think they are two of the more physical football teams in the National Football League. Really, we feel like we just need to keep working our system and try to get better every single day. I know that sounds real cliché. But we’re trying to get better at every position.”
EXPECT IMPROVED IRVIN
Although he led all NFL rookies in sacks with eight in 2012, Seahawks defensive end Bruce Irvin struggled in his only start of the season against Atlanta in the NFC divisional playoffs.
But Schneider expects the West Virginia product to raise his level of play in his second season.
“Bruce still has a huge upside,” Schneider said. “He’s only rushed the passer for three years now, so from a technique standpoint there’s a lot of things that he needs to improve on. He knows that.
“But it’s very rare to find somebody with his ability to jump off the ball, and his speed to cut corners and work his way back to the quarterback.”Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 eric.williams@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @eric_d_williams