In recent days I have been reflecting on my feelings about the Jets team and where I am as a fan. In past years, I've always been a glass-is-half-full guy, going into each season believing that the Jets have a chance to compete, even if they didn't have a stocked roster or a clear franchise QB.
The Jets now appear to be on the cusp of turning it all around. They have a GM and front office that appear competent. They have Robert Saleh, who could be one of the great up and coming head coaches. They have a potential franchise QB who they just drafted at #2. And they appear to finally building the team correctly, by using early draft picks on offensive line and wide receivers.
This is not to say that everything is perfect. The Jets have still made some mistakes in my view. You will never hear me say "In JD I trust" or otherwise place blind faith in any coach or front office staff. And we still need to see Becton stay healthy, Mims take the next step, and Wilson, AVT, and Moore prove that they belong at the NFL level. But, on paper, the Jets are in as good a position as they have been since at least 2010.
So why am I not happier? Why am I not positively giddy about the future of the Jets? I keep asking myself this question.
The answer is that the past 2 years were so traumatic that I now struggle to find joy in this team's successes. And there are basically 4 areas that have bothered me the most:
1. My Resentment of Woody and Chris Johnson
The root of the Jets' problems has been the incompetence of the Johnson brothers. Before the hiring of Adam Gase, I did not dislike either brother. I thought they were trust-fund idiots who occasionally meddled too much in football operations given that they knew less about actual football than even most casual fans.
But I found the last two years to be completely enraging. First, the failure to do a "deep dive" into the performance of Maccagnan and the failure to fire him along with Bowles. Then the botching of the hiring of Matt Rhule and forcing the new coach to hire Gregg Williams. Then the hiring of Adam Gase, a guy who had just been fired for running a division rival into the ground. Based on a phone call from Peyton Manning.
Then we got two years of Gase incompetence, as Chris Johnson refused to admit to his mistake.
Now, when I think of the Jets possibly winning the Super Bowl, I have to admit that my first thought is not about the joy that I will feel. It is about how undeserving these Johnsons are. The thought of Chris Johnson wearing the Lombardi trophy like a hat sucks all the joy out of a potential Jets championship.
I can only hope that I can move past this.
2. The Tanking
I don't claim to a better fan than anyone else, but I'd be lying if I said that all the pro-tank talk didn't annoy the Hell out of me. I cannot and will not root for my team to lose for draft position. I fundamentally do not believe that it is necessary to tank in the NFL to build or rebuild an organization. The Chiefs and Texans drafted franchise QBs without tanking. The Bears just drafted a guy who may end up being the best QB in the draft after going 8-8.
And yet, during the season, I was lectured over and over and over again about how the Jets needed to tank for Trevor or else they would "set the team back for a decade". The fact that many of the people who were demanding that the Jets lose games have now jumped on the Wilson bandwagon without so much as admitting that they were wrong hasn't made this any easier to get past.
3. The Failure to Develop Sam Darnold
In my several decades of watching NFL football, I have never, ever seen an organization do such a terrible job of supporting a potential franchise QB. Even when the Texans got David Carr killed they at least had the excuse of being an expansion team.
Prior to drafting Sam, the Jets did nothing to build the offensive line or bring in serious WR weapons. For Darnold's first season, they handed his development and offense to Jeremy Bates. Bates had not even been an NFL coach at any level from 2013-2016, before he was hired as QB coach in 2017.
Then they hired Gase and Loggains. We all know what a disaster that was. But we all also knew when they were hired what a mistake it was.
The rational side of me understands why the Jets moved on from Sam Darnold. I didn't actually expect Joe Douglas to gamble his career on fixing Darnold. Especially when even I am not certain that Darnold can be fixed.
But the other side of me is so angry at the Jets for botching Darnold's development that I feel like they didn't deserve to draft another potential franchise QB.
The Johnsons remind me of some spoiled kids who are gifted a Porsche by their parents. They then proceed to trash the car until it can barely drive straight. They then go back and ask Mommy and Daddy to buy them a Bugati because the Porsche "is no good."
And every time I see a Jets blaming Darnold for not developing himself it absolutely drives me nuts.
4. The Zach Wilson Evaluation Process
If not for the three areas I just listed, I am sure this last one would not bother me so much. But the Wilson hype train has really rubbed me the wrong way.
For two straight years, Justin Fields has put up Heisman-caliber seasons, culminating in a legendary performance in the Sugar Bowl over Trevor Lawrence. I still look back on that night remembering how thrilled I was that Fields was going to be a Jet.
What bothered me so much about the Wilson hype train was not that Wilson was being considered for the #2 pick. It was the way Fields was being ignored. Suddenly this guy who had excelled at the highest levels of college football, with a sterling character record, was treated as less certain than a guy with one good season, a serious injury history, and no games against top college defenses.
Wilson is now the Jets QB. I will obviously root for him. But the whole draft process left a bad taste in my mouth that will take time to get over.
I am posting this now to get this off my chest and hopefully help me to get out of my funk. Let me know if any of you feel similarly.