Talk of the Jets tanking the 2017 season has been widespread following the great cull. Numerous veterans have been cut in favour of freeing up cap space and playing time for younger players. At first I thought about the prospect of tanking and despite having to cover the team through what promises to be a very difficult season, it was an idea that made at least some sense.
The more I thought about it, the more I moved away from the phrase tanking, and instead I started to look at it as repositioning. You can argue about the cutting of several veterans, and I questioned the manner and timing of some myself. However, then I started thinking that if they weren't going to be a part of the future, why have them be part of the present. You don't know if the replacements will ever make it in the NFL, but the Jets won't be winning anything this year, so why not find out. It's almost a year-long audition for a number of players to prove their part of the solution, not the problem.
So for me, it's really not a tanking situation, it's a repositioning. Do the Jets want Hackenberg to be awful? Do they want all of the receivers to flop? The lineman to become revolving doors? The linebackers to produce no pressure? All for the sake of getting the number 1 overall pick, of course not. In an ideal world, Hackenberg lights it up, all the receivers step up, we start developing chemistry with a young line and the likes of Jenkins and Lee continue to improve in the linebacking unit. Is that all going to happen? It's unlikely, but not impossible.
The much maligned Sheldon Richardson also doesn't buy into the tanking talk, when presented with the question, here was his response via NJ.com :
"Tanking for what?" he told NJ Advance Media last week at minicamp.
For a high draft pick in 2018, perhaps to select a quarterback, as the thinking goes.
"Whatever," Richardson said. "I mean, I don't tank nothing. So that's all opinions outside of this organization. We don't come here -- and we're not going to go through training camp, and have 14-hour days -- to go tank a season. I'll be damned."
That's not to say that all the moves were welcomed by the team. It's not often I agree with Sheldon on anything, but he makes a lot of sense when he talks about leadership. Mangold was a great leader, Harris was a great leader and they will definitely be missed. However neither of those guys were going to lead us into a new generation of competitive football, we need new players to step up. 2017 is the perfect chance for them to do that.
"Some of the moves we just made were questionable in our own locker room, and they messed with us a little bit last week. But you've got to get through it. Guys have bounced back already. It was shocking [after the Harris and Decker cuts] and we felt it a lot. Both sides of the ball felt it. Our leaders are gone now, so now it's time for new guys to be a leader.
"We don't have big names, but big names become big names. They didn't come in as big names. They made their names. It's just that simple."