Mike Maccagnan never worked for Ron Wolf, but the Hall of Fame NFL executive had a lot of influence on his career. Wolf was on the search committee that interviewed and hired Maccagnan as Jets general manager a little bit over a year ago.
It is hardly a surprise that Wolf had glowing praise in public for Maccagnan.
Jets consultant Ron Wolf: "I was impressed by Mike Maccagnan's professionalism, intelligence, preparation, awareness & attention to detail"— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) January 14, 2015
Wolf has shared many of his philosophies on building an NFL team in public forums. Some of them seem so obvious on the surface that you wonder why every team doesn't adhere to them.
In the book he wrote, The Packer Way, Wolf said the following:
It amazes me how many teams try to win in our league without strengthening the quarterback spot. Maybe success isn't important enough to them to take the steps necessary to solve this one problem.
Back on January 14, Maccagnan was a guest on Mike Francesa's show, where he shared a piece of wisdom from Wolf that left an impact on him.
Ron asked me a question in the interview, "How do you go about finding a quarterback? What's your philosophy on finding and developing quarterbacks?" I gave him this long, detailed answer. That was in the interview actually. Then a couple of days later I was waiting to find out what was going to happen, and I was here on the weekend. It was after the second interview. I went out to dinner with Ron and Charley (Casserly) kind of waiting to see what happened, and I remember asking Ron, "Hey, you asked me that question."
I asked him this question, and I thought I was going to get this long, complicated answer. Ron said, "You draft one every year."
It seems simple. The quarterback position is the most important one in football. Why would you not keep looking for somebody until you find one?
In the early rounds this year, it seems obvious the Jets will be in the market for a quarterback if need meets value. They will likely bring back Ryan Fitzpatrick, but Fitzpatrick is 33 years old. He is not a long-term solution. He is probably a one to two year stopgap if that. They need to find their long-term quarterback.
What if there is no early quarterback? If you find one where the value fits in the middle or later rounds, should you still take one? Ron Wolf's philosophy suggests the answer is yes. I agree.
What about Bryce Petty? You can't sit around and assume Petty is going to develop into a great quarterback. He went in the fourth round for a reason. If the Jets were very confident Petty was going to be a great quarterback, they would not have passed on him three times.
They saw enough tools in him to intrigue them as a developmental quarterback in the fourth round. That's very different from saying this is the guy on whom the team is resting its future. Every year my uncle sells raffle tickets as a fundraiser for a school my cousin attended. When I buy one, I am hoping I will win. When I plan out my yearly budget, I am not counting on having that money at my disposal, though.
If the Jets find a quarterback whose tools they similarly like in the middle to late rounds this season, should they take him? Absolutely. Why shouldn't they?
Is Petty a reason to not take another quarterback should the right value be there? He shouldn't be. Why limit yourself to one raffle ticket. Don't you improve your odds of hitting the jackpot by buying a second? Are the Jets going to say they will wait on a project player?
Having a late round pick compete with Petty makes a lot of sense. Petty doesn't need to be starting material by his second year, but shouldn't he show signs of growth by then? If so, he will have a huge leg up on his competition, and he'll take the job. If Petty is equal to or behind a project player after one year in the pros and in this system, isn't that a major black mark against him? It means he showed no growth.
It is one of the oddities of the NFL. People look at a guy like Petty and just assume he deserves a roster spot and should never be pushed. Why wouldn't you demand improvement, though? In an ideal world, Petty will have grown enough to take the backup job next season. If that happens, another developmental quarterback can be the number three, and the pipeline continues. At the very least, Petty should be ahead of project rookie status. It's a good thing to have expectations and force players to consistently compete to show they have grown.
Let's just say you draft somebody, and both the drafted guy and Petty turn into high quality quarterbacks. Then you've really hit the jackpot. How many teams have two good quarterbacks?