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What Do You Think?

Why did the Jets fail?

NFL: New York Jets-Aaron Rodgers Press Conference Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets were all in on a Super Bowl run this year that lasted a mere 4 snaps. Joe Douglas didn’t know that would be the case when he made his 53 man roster, but he made numerous moves that seemed dubious at the time. Let’s take a look at some of what Joe did to see what, if anything, was wrong. Okay, I’m kidding. Joe Douglas made a plethora of poor moves, but which was the most egregious? I will try to list some of the problems Joe should have handled before the season started. I might miss some. If I do please remind me in the comments below.

I will list some of the moves Joe made/didn’t make in no particular order. You must decide which was the worst and which was the least problematic.

1) Trading for Aaron Rodgers

I know many Jets fans were all in on the Rodgers move. I was not one of them. Sure, I loved the idea of a Hall of Fame QB coming to the Jets, but would it make much of a difference? I mean the Jets offensive line was horrible in 2022, and the Jets did little to upgrade that unit other than drafting Joe Tippmann, which I was all for.

The Jets in my opinion were not a player away (even a Hall of Fame player) from a Super Bowl. Aaron Rodgers was in Green Bay for 18 seasons with some very good teams and won a single Super Bowl and he was lucky to win that. The Packers were out of the playoffs near the end of the season, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost at home to the Detroit Lions, who had lost an NFL record 26 straight road games to that point, which allowed the Green Bay Packers to get in as a wild card team. The Packers ran the table for Aaron Rodgers only Super Bowl victory. If Rodgers was such a difference maker, why did he win a single Super Bowl with a quality team year in and year out. His Super Bowl win was in 2010, so he wasn’t a recent champion.

The Rodgers trade was expensive in draft compensation. The Packers agreed to deal Rodgers and their 2023 first-round pick (No. 15) and a 2023 fifth-round pick (No. 170) to the Jets for New York’s 2023 first-round pick (No. 13), a 2023 second-round pick (No. 42), a 2023 sixth-round pick (No. 207) and a conditional 2024 second-round pick that would have become a first if Rodgers had played 65% of the plays in 2023.

The Jets recouped their 1st round pick in 2024 but still gave up their 2nd round pick, to go along with the loss of the #13 pick (slotted down to the 15th pick) in 2023.

I was happily surprised by how Rodgers came to the Jets, he was a breath of fresh air with the team and the city. Rodgers had grown moody in Green Bay, but he was outstanding as a teammate with the Jets, he won me over with his great attitude.

The problem for me was giving up draft assets in 2024, which all the people in the draft community knew was going to be a stellar draft. The last few drafts have been short on play makers, but 2024 is looking like an outstanding year for prospects. Some players who would have been selected in the 1st round over the last few years may slide down to the 2nd round in 2024. This gives teams tremendous value.

2) The Jets failure to effectively strengthen the Offensive line.

The Jets had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL in 2022, but the line actually was worse in 2023. The offensive tackle position was a joke, as Joe Douglas actually thought the foursome of Mekhi Becton, Max Michell, Carter Warren and Billy Turner at offensive tackle would be an improvement from 2022.

This was an insult to anyone who understands the complexity of offensive line play. Not only do you need superior talent in this era of pass rushers, but you need a cohesiveness as well. The Jets had a poor group to begin with and had to shuffle people in and out all year. Mekhi Becton was to be the rock on the line when Joe drafted him. In 2023 Becton has been horrible, with the most sacks allowed in the NFL with 12, the second most penalties with 18 (4 have been declined), and a whopping 50 quarterback pressures allowed in 622 pass snaps.

Joe was an offensive tackle at Richmond University, he knows everything I stated and more. It boggles the mind how he let this unit become one of the worst, if not the worst, offensive line in the NFL in 2023. This coming off his opening press conference, where he said that he would “build offensive and defensive lines that impose their wills on their opponents.”

3) The Dalvin Cook trade

I wrote an article weeks before the Jets signed Dalvin Cook to a $7 million one year contract. The idea was that Breece Hall was coming off a serious injury so the Jets may want to ease him back into the flow of the offense. The NFL season is a long, arduous journey and Hall would have time to reclaim the title role in the offense. As fans we had no idea where Hall was in his recovery, so it might have been prudent to bring in a seasoned pro to not only handle the early work load, but also be an instructor to the young back.

Breece has unique talents to be a dominant running back in the NFL. I felt it would be foolish to rush him back, and the combination of Aaron Rodgers and Cook could be a dynamic one in the early season. The main point of my article was that Cook would need to be played as a featured back early, which would allow Breece time to acclimate himself back into the offense. It was important that Joe not overspend on Cook. Cook was probably only going to be a one year player, so a $2 or 3 million contract would have been okay, but not much more.

Instead Cook signed a 1 year $7 million contract with $5.8 million guaranteed, which was way too much for a player you hoped would be a starter for maybe the first 4 games. Cook rescinded some of those guarantees when he asked to be released, but Joe Had no idea he would do that when he signed Cook. The Jets have salary cap issues in the future, so every penny saved is crucial. The $7 million contract was absurd.

When I wrote this article I was surprised to find that the vast majority of the readers were against signing Cook no matter the cost. The question is, why did you know more than the Jets brass?

4) The signing of Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb

Joe Douglas showed his surrender as the Jets team leader when he signed both Allen Lazard and an aging Randall Cobb. This was an obvious move to appease Aaron Rodgers, which showed the weakness in Joe Douglas of his vision for the Jets. He had to bring in a questionable talent like Lazard and an aging vet like Cobb, who barely played in 2023.

Cobb hasn’t played in as many as 13 games over the last 4 years. His high in receptions over the last four years is 38, which was in 2020. This from a guy who caught 91 passes in 2014. Cobb was no longer anywhere near that type of player the last few years. The Jets paid $3 million for a guy who had 4 receptions for 35 yards.

Allen Lazard was an undrafted free agent who signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars out of the 2018 draft. He was a darling in the draft community, as many were looking for him as a 6th or 7th round selection. Instead he signed with the Jaguars but never made the team. Lazard signed with Green Bay as a big-bodied receiver (6’ 5” 227 lbs), but he was not a speedster (4.55/40), and he needs a runway to get up to his top MPH.

Lazard was signed by the Jets to be their #2 receiver across from Garrett Wilson. He signed a ridiculous contract of $44 million over four years, with $22 million fully guaranteed. This from a guy who was always the #3 receiver (when he played), and never had as much as 800 receiving yards in a season, all while playing with Aaron Rodgers.

With the Jets Lazard has been awful, with 23 receptions on 49 targets (46.9%) for 311 yards and a single TD. He also had five drops and five penalties.

5) Bringing in Nathaniel Hackett as offensive coordinator

This was an obvious attempt to bring Aaron Rodgers to the Jets. I don’t know how much this was demanded by Woody Johnson or if it was totally on Joe Douglas’s shoulders. Either way it’s on Joe’s plate since he has a 6 year guaranteed contract and should build the team his way no matter what Woody wants. If you are a strong person with your vision of the team you don’t allow anyone to interfere with it, not even the owner. If Joe was fired he would still be set for life, and he could find work with another team soon.

Hackett has been a bust everywhere as a play caller, except when he was paired with Aaron Rodgers. He was a total failure in Denver, not lasting the year. The Jets brought him in like he was a hot commodity, but in truth he would have been looking at a non-coordinator position if not for the Jets. The NFL is the quintessential what have you done lately business model. If you succeed then everyone wants you. If you fail you are like week old leftovers: no one wants you. The Jets are the exception to that rule.

What do you think?

Poll

What was the Jets biggest mistake?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    1) Trading for Aaron Rodgers
    (96 votes)
  • 57%
    2) Failure of the offensive line
    (292 votes)
  • 0%
    3) Signing Dalvin Cook
    (5 votes)
  • 3%
    4) Signing Lazard and Cobb
    (16 votes)
  • 16%
    5) Hiring Nathaniel Hackett as OC
    (85 votes)
  • 3%
    6) Other
    (18 votes)
512 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Which was the least damaging mistake?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    1) Trading for Aaron Rodgers
    (106 votes)
  • 4%
    2) Failure of the offensive line
    (15 votes)
  • 49%
    3) Signing Dalvin Cook
    (180 votes)
  • 3%
    4) Signing Lazard and Cobb
    (13 votes)
  • 1%
    5) Hiring Nathaniel Hackett as OC
    (7 votes)
  • 11%
    6) Other
    (42 votes)
363 votes total Vote Now