Who says the New York Jets will be terrible in 2017? Yes, the roster is in shambles, but remember something very important: this is the NFL.
There’s a very distinct rumor spreading around the NFL campfire these days regarding the New York Jets. It’s one that the organization and its fans have been familiar with through the five-plus decades of existence. It’s one that was completely unavoidable after the horrid 5-11 mark put up during the second year of the Mike Maccagnan-Todd Bowles regime.
This campfire chatter we’re referring to directly relates to how awful the team is going to be in 2017.
The reasons for why this is the case are not only numerous, but ridiculously overwhelming.
For one, the depth chart is poor. After losing veterans Darrelle Revis, Brandon Marshall and Nick Mangold, the roster, upon first glance, looks incredibly weak. (This holds true even while knowing both Revis and Mangold didn’t provide much.)
Another reason comes down to the terrible job of the organization’s head coach in year two. No franchise with a weak roster and a suspect head coach could be looked at as an up-and-coming force.
And finally, development has been porous, directly red-flagging the Jets general manager as not only inept in the personnel choice department, but as an overall developer of talent.
Considering all of these negatives, you’d still be a fool to believe the Jets are a solid bet to finish worst in the league.
Is anybody over here claiming they’ll steal the crown from Tom Brady in 2017? Obviously, not a shot in hell. But to evaluate a roster and predict a final record at this point in the calendar year is a terrible idea.
History Unfolds an Unpredictable Story
Year after year, the NFL fools us all. Jets fans, especially, have become fools more than the average bear.
The seasons that look like spectacular setups turn into absolute disasters while the summers that bring a horrid sense to the soul bring unbelievable surprises.
Take the 2006 campaign as an example. Coming off the Herm Edwards regime, Woody Johnson finally snagged his guy. He took a shot at Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots by reeling in Eric Mangini, the man who’d eventually lead the team to their first dynasty.
Obviously, that didn’t work out (although his personnel did thrive under Rex Ryan in 2009 and 2010), but his rookie season came as a shock to the entire football world.
Coming in as one of the locks to finish in the bottom quarter of the league, the talentless Jets finished 10-6 en route to an AFC Wild Card berth. Though the talent seemed weak on paper, the team grew as a unit and thrived on the field.
How about the 2015 edition of the Jets? Sure, big name free agents were brought in, but rarely did an expert chose them to finish above .500. After all, this was a squad coming off a pitiful 4-12 season with John Idzik’s roster decisions fully entrenched.
It works the other way as well. Remember 2003? Jonathan Vilma and company vowed to expect great things during the sophomore Jets season for Chad Pennington. They battled through a bitterly disappointing 6-10 season.
Twenty-sixteen serves as the latest disappointment. A squad coming off a 10-6 season with, seemingly, all of the pieces in place, simply fell apart.
Schedules Make All the Difference in the World
This is the National Football League. Only 16 games are played. Schedules make all the difference in the world.
As great as the 2015 version was, they simply weren’t as great as that 10-6 record indicated. As bad as the 2016 version was, they simply weren’t as poor as that 5-11 mark indicated.
In each season, the schedule greatly helped and hurt the Jets cause.
Going into the 2017 season, we won’t know how rough a schedule they’ll be facing until it actually plays out.
Rosters aren’t Complete Until the NFL Draft is Over
Again, this is the NFL. This isn’t a developmental league in which one can tank a season and guarantee themselves that one player who can turn it all around.
Sure, a franchise quarterback is needed to really get the party started. That much is certain these days. But even with that QB, solid teams aren’t born. (Just ask Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts and their follies.)
With a mere seven selections, an entire franchise can change its fortunes.
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Take a look at the Seattle Seahawks 2011 draft class. Thanks to a bevy of smart selections — Richard Sherman, James Carpenter, K.J. Wright, John Moffitt, Byron Maxwell, Malcolm Smith — the franchise was off and running not only to success, but salary cap heaven.
The 2011 season saw the Hawks creep up on an unsuspecting league. They finished with a 7-9 record, far from awful. Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner were snagged the following season and a Vince Lombardi Trophy is now on the premises.
Personnel groupings can be drastically altered with one magnificent draft.
Listen, nobody’s trying to sell that the New York Jets will be playoff-bound in 2017. It’d be the miracle of the season if that were to transpire.
The only thing we ask, is, don’t be so closed-minded. Don’t make the same mistake you suffer through every NFL offseason with.
This is still early April. The NFL Draft has yet to take place.
Looking around the Jets depth chart doesn’t have anybody the least bit giddy. Josh McCown is the quarterback. Without Brandon Marshall, the entire offensive dynamic has changed. There is no tight end. The offensive line, even with Mangold, is in shambles. The secondary? Awful. The linebacking group? Not good. The only area the Jets are stout in is the defensive line and even in that spot, they have issues due to employing three studs who can only fit two spots (Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams).
Even so, don’t bank on a one or two win season. Much can change from now until August. We’ve seen it many times before and we’ll certainly see it more times to come.
The only real questions pertaining to this specific situation are as follows:
- Can Mike Maccagnan choose the right players via draft?
- Can Todd Bowles cultivate his youngsters and properly use his roster?
- How rough will the 2017 schedule actually turn out to be?
Until you know these three questions, you don’t know how poorly the 2017 New York Jets will turn out.