With a lot of important questions for the Jets coming up, I want to provide a take on the direction of the team.
The Front Office
I’ve been somewhat skeptical of the Jets front office since the 2015 offseason. I liked the Marshall, Fitzpatrick and Revis moves (hey, no one is perfect), but hated the contracts given to guys like Buster Skrine, Marcus Gilchrist and David Harris. The money Idzik had hoarded was all gone, seemingly within minutes, and it was mostly spent on older players on the wrong side of their careers. Marshall was a stud in his first year and David Harris held up okay as well, but the binge spend on older players made very little sense considering the situation the Jets were in at the time. Low and behold, the Jets are in the same situation just a few years later. Part of the reason is that the Jets have signed older players and drafted poorly, two issues that completely defeated the necessary rebuild. To break it down simply, let’s just glance at Maccagnan’s track record overall.
To add insult to injury, the contracts given to Revis, Wilkerson, and Johnson were all abominable. Players like Gilchrist, Skrine or Fitzpatrick didn’t play to their contracts (the second one for Fitz) and honestly, the only quality player I can think of that Maccagnan added at a recent price in free agency is Avery Williamson. Okay, that’s terrible. How about his draft history? Coming into his fourth year, Maccagnan has 1 Pro Bowler, no All Pros, and the majority of his players are either not starting or simply off the roster. This is with consistent high draft picks. This isn’t even considering the Hackenberg fiasco.
To keep it simple, the Jets had 1 Pro Bowler in 2014. If the Jamal Adams makes the cut, they might be able to match that in 2018 despite years of top draft picks and massive spending sprees. Four years later, and the Jets will be lucky to simply have shown no improvement over a 4-12 team that was almost deliberately devoid of talent. That should tell you everything you need to know about Maccagnan.
The Coaching Staff
When Todd Bowles was hired, I was mostly in favor of the move. After year 2, I was already prepared to move on. There are certain sins that coaches simply cannot commit if they want to keep my faith (and they do, they check in with me regularly, I promise.) One of the worst came in this year in which he kicked a field goal down by 22 with just under 13 minutes left in the 4th quarter. When asked about the decision, he stated “We needed a couple of scores, anyway. We would have needed a field goal, so we had to come out of that with at least three points.”
This is just dumb. Sorry if I’m being blunt, but this is simple math and it is straight up mind-boggling to me that a head coach could say this. I can forgive pre-snap penalties. I can forgive poor clock management (sometimes.) I can forgive poor in-game decision making and the lack of in-game adjustments (actually no, this one I really can’t.) The fact is that we have seen all of these things and more (field goal down 22 in the 4th quarter!) from Bowles and I think it’s safe to say it’s time to move on. No one likes to say guys should lose their jobs, but if I placed in the bottom quarter of my field consistently, my job deserves to be in jeopardy. These guys made millions of dollars getting the opportunity of a lifetime and they haven’t proven themselves deserving of that investment. It’s time to move on.
In past years, even when the team was on the weak side, you always felt as though guys were giving 100%. Muhammad Wilkerson balled out under Rex Ryan. Sheldon Richardson chased down wide receivers at full sprint 80 yards down the field. These are not guys who have been high effort players in recent years, but at times in their Jet careers, they gave it their all. This year, the players seem to be giving about .05% effort. If we’re being gener. People complained when Jamal Adams called it out last offseason, but frankly, he’s been the only really good player on the team this year and gives everything he has every time he steps on the field. He had a non-story recently in which the media attempted to make it happen again, but honestly, I would have liked it to be a real story. Adams is a leader and the best player on the team right now, despite being a young safety. I want him to keep his teammates accountable because it seems as though no one else has this season. The Jets appear to be going through the motions this season. I’ve seen horrible, horrible seasons from the Jets, but it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the team just mail it in.
With all that aside, what’s the talent level of this team? It’s bad. It’s really, really bad. It hasn’t even been heading in the right direction. Two years ago, the Jets had 4 Pro Bowlers. None of them are on the roster today. If the Jets are lucky, they could maybe, possibly, probably not really 1 this year. Okay, the Pro Bowl is mostly a popularity/name recognition contest (see Darrelle Revis that year and Antonio Cromartie in 2013.) Nevertheless, you can often tell a lot about the potential of a bad team to turn things around soon. In 2012, the Chiefs went 2-14 despite having 6 Pro Bowlers on the roster. A Year later, they added a legitimate NFL coach in Andy Reid and a legitimate NFL quarterback in Alex Smith. A year later, they were 11-5, sending 10 to the Pro Bowl. That was a team with talent that lacked a quarterback and a coach. If you’re a bad team, that’s the bad team you hope to be. It’s not the Jets.
The Jets do lack a quarterback and a coach (though hopefully we’ll see a Jared Goff-esque year two from Darnold and oh wait, the Rams are a good example for comparison! Ah well, we’ve come to far, let’s continue.) The problem is that they also lack an offensive line, skill position players, and an offensive line. Even in the stronger areas, the Jets lack big playmakers. Poor drafting and signing has left the Jets in the same position they’ve been in for over half a decade. There are only two routes to success. The first is if Darnold suddenly turns into Aaron Rodgers and puts a largely talent deficient team on his back. Though I have my fingers crossed, I don’t know how anyone could assume that will happen. That leaves us with option two; the Jets actually follow through with a rebuild, targeting young players and draft picks and hoarding cap space until there are legitimate places to spend it and a team that is ready to compete. This process was started (and woefully mismanaged) by Idzik, but was thrown out the door as soon as Bowles and Maccagnan entered to Jets Plaza. The Jets need to cut bait with both and actually suffer through the bumps and bruises of rebuilding a team, hopefully around the quarterback they went all in for this last offseason. Until this happens, the Jets will be on the outside looking in. Manifesto over.