FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Mike Tannenbaum pulled out a letter as he stood in front of the New York Jets players for one last time.
It was a farewell address to the group of men he signed, traded for and drafted over the last seven years as the team's general manager. He choked back tears as he read it, and received a round of applause when he was done.
"It was really heartfelt," defensive end Mike DeVito said Monday. "I know Mike, and he'll bounce back."
The Jets fired Tannenbaum after a dismal 6-10 season, but owner Woody Johnson announced that Rex Ryan will be back for a fifth season as the team's coach.
"I believe that he has the passion, the talent, and the drive to successfully lead our team," Johnson said of Ryan in a statement.
The futures of both Tannenbaum and Ryan were unclear after a 28-9 loss to Buffalo on Sunday, a miserable finish to the team's first losing season in Ryan's four years as coach. While it appeared Tannenbaum was a likely goner, it was believed Ryan might also be on shaky ground.
Ryan's scheduled news conference with the media Monday afternoon was postponed amid speculation that there could be several changes on the coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano is expected to be fired after one season, although no coaching moves were immediately made by Johnson after a staff meeting. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's status is uncertain after he turned down a contract extension earlier in the year, while special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff retired following Sunday's game.
Johnson started shaking things up early by parting ways with Tannenbaum, who had been with the organization since 1997. Johnson said he has consulted with several "football executives" and also hired a search firm to help aid in finding a new GM. Former Colts vice chairman Bill Polian, 49ers director of player personnel Tom Gamble, Texans director of college scouting Mike Maccagnan, Ravens assistant GM Eric DeCosta and Raiders director of personnel Joey Clinkscales — who was previously a member of New York's front office — could all garner attention from the Jets.
"My goal every year as owner is to build a team that wins consistently," Johnson said. "This year, we failed to achieve that goal. Like all Jets fans, I am disappointed with this year's results. However, I am confident that this change will best position our team for greater success going forward."
The Jets were a team in turmoil from the moment they acquired quarterback Tim Tebow in a trade with Denver last March. The move was made by Tannenbaum and highly criticized by fans and media — and failed in just about every way.
Tebow was brought in as a backup for Mark Sanchez and expected to play a key role in certain offensive schemes. He played sparingly, and spent several weeks out of the lineup with injured ribs.
Meanwhile, Sanchez was having a poor season, the Jets kept losing and Tebow never got a chance to be the No. 1 quarterback.