Though key veterans were added during the offseason, the New York Jets exciting future is bright when considering their youth.

By Paul Newbold

The New York Jets hold a record of 10-5 this season and are headed to their first playoff birth since 2011 if they can beat the Buffalo Bills next Sunday. That record stands in stark contrast to the 4-12 mark they posted last season.

Much has been made of the free agent acquisitions that Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan signed in the off season, and rightfully so.

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Working with Todd Bowles, Maccagnan went out on a ravish spending spree this past winter. He signed Darrelle Revis, Buster Skrine, James Carpenter and Marcus Gilchrist, and Antonio Cromartie. He traded to land arguably their best receiver in Brandon Marshall and picked up Ryan Fitzpatrick cheap.

All these moves shored up a team devoid of talent at many positions and set it up to be successful in 2015. Jet fans have seen a major turn around in less then a year and the playoffs loom just around the corner. Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles did a great job of putting this team together and should be commended for the job they have done.

The Jet future however is not predicated solely on free agent acquisitions . Mike Maccagnan is quietly infusing youth into the organization, and that is where the Jet future lies. Like many organization in the NFL, the Jets are building from youth and Todd Bowles has a penchant for speed as well. Young and fast is the way the Jets would like to build, and they are well on their way to building a contender.

Quincy Enunwa is a prime example of what Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles would like to do, bring along young guys that possess the skills and speed to succeed. Enunwa is twenty three years old, and his development has taken off this year. Taken by John Idzik in last year’s NFL draft, Enunwa measures out at 6’2″ and moves the scales to 225 pounds. He began the season being utilized primarily as a blocking tight end, his natural position was wide receiver in college. As the season has progressed, so has his role. Chan Gailey has brought this player along and is now just beginning to fully utilize his size and speed in his offensive schemes. Enunwas has upside and he’ll be contributing for the Jets for years to come. Building a team with youth and speed is exactly what Todd Bowles & his coaching staff want.1jets2

Marcus Gilchrist has played solid football for the New York Jets at the safety position for the Jets this year. Signed by Mike Maccagnan, Gilchrist is twenty seven years of age. The 5′ 10″/198 pound free safety is under contract through 2018 and the Jets are grooming Rontez Miles behind him. Miles just turned 27 as well and stands 6’0″ and tips the scales at 203 pounds. Unless their are major injuries to either, the Jets should be set at free safety through at least 2017 when Miles will be due a contract.

Buster Skrine is just another example of the Jets getting younger while upgrading a position. Skrine is just twenty six years of age, and has played very well for the Jets this year. Skrine measures in at 5’9″ and weighs in at 185 pounds. Behind the young corner the Jets also have Dexter McDougle to fall back on. McDougle is a young twenty four year old corner who the Jets are high on. McDougle stands 5’10 and tips the scales at a clean 198 pounds. The duo are set to man the position for years to come, and they both possess good speed.

These are just two examples of how Mike Maccagnan has infused youth into a position, upgraded the skill set of a position, and backed it up with youth to develop. A lot of the talk has been about the veteran stars Maccagnan has brought in, but when you look at his work closely, you discover the real plan. Build and develop from youth and infuse speed. Maccagnan has been doing a great job behind the scenes, and Jet fans should be very grateful. To put it simply, Maccagnan is slowly building a sustainable future for the Jets.

Leonard Williams is another great example of the Jets building for youth and speed. Williams arguably was the best defensive player in the 2015 NFL draft, and the Jets were thrilled to see him still on the board when they drafted. The young man has already shown his skill set on the field this year. Williams is a monster of a football player, measuring in at 6’5″ and tips the scales at 302 pounds. One of the things that jumps out at you when you watch him play, is his quickness and speed. Young and quick, its the formula Mike Maccagnan is using to build the Jet organization of the future.

Calvin Pryor was drafted during the John Idzik era, but he fits the Maccagnan “player mold”. Pryor is just twenty three year old and their is no doubting his speed, nor his skill set. The young safety has flourished this year in Todd Bowles system, and will be here for the foreseeable future. Pryor measures out at 5’11” and has a 208 pound frame. Speed and his hard hitting style have already made him a fan favorite in New York City.

Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles are attempting to build something sustainable for the Jet franchise. For years the organization tried to do it through big free agent signings, and the successes were short lived. Maccagnan is doing it through youth via the draft, and younger free agent signings. He’s showed Jet fans that he can bring in talent at value that they can develop. Youth is the focus for this general manager, and Todd Bowles and Chan Gailey are working closely with him to meet the Jets need.

Marcus Williams is just another example of how this organization is working to bring youth to the field. Williams was an undrafted free agent signing for the Jets in 2014. Initially he was taken by the Huston Texans, but was released last season during preseason. The 5’11″/ 192 pound corner back is developing nicely, he currently leads the Jets with six interceptions on the year. Williams is only 24 years of age, and along with Dexter McDougle and Dee Milliner, offer a bright future for the Jet secondary.

One of the other promising players the Jets have coming up is Lorenzo Mauldin. Mauldin is a 2015 selection of Mike Maccagnan. Taken in the third round, the 6’4″/260 pound rookie line backer has already begun to turn some heads around the league. Mauldin fits the Todd Bowles system perfectly as he has the speed to come off the edge to apply pressure to opposing quarter backs. Mauldin’s development this year has been impressive and the twenty three year old has a very nice upside. Playing this year, Mauldin already has posted four sacks on the year, and with more playing time he could develop into the edge rusher the Jets have been missing. Speed and youth is the way Mike Maccagnan is building this team.

Mike Maccagnan chose Devin Smith in the second round of this year’s NFL draft. He’s likely the definition of the speed this team is attempting to build. Smith’s rookie season wasn’t spectacular by any measure, but he battled injuries and struggled making the transition to Chan Gailey’s system. Smith is just 23 years old and has the body form many teams look for in a wide receiver. Smith stands six feet tall and weighs in at 196 pounds. Smith has an excellent set of hands and his speed alone makes him a deep ball threat. He’s young and developing, but this young man has a lot of football left to play for this organization.

The Jets are on the rise in the NFL, their youth is slowly being infused and they are beginning to contribute in big ways. The plan is in place for this organization and Mike Maccagnan has just begun to institute that plan. Aging veterans will gradually be replaced by younger upgrades, making what the Jets have sustainable. The Jets are still in the process of rebuilding a football team, and it would appear they have the right guy to do it.

Bryce Petty was drafted in the fourth round by the Jets this season. The Jets have been searching for their “quarter back of the future” for many years now. Taking Petty in the fourth round gives them a talented young guy who has the potential to contribute down the line. In a league where there is seemingly always a shortage of starting quarter backs, developing one is a great idea. Petty has the tools and by many reports he’s been developing nicely under quarterback coach Kevin Patullo. Petty can run as well as throw, making him a good fit in Chan Gailey’s offense. Petty is just 24 years old, stands 6’3″ and tips the scales at 230 pounds, he’s a big kid with some speed and may be the future for the Jets.

Brian Winters was drafted under John Idzik and stagnated under the former coaching staff. Winters is still just 24 and is only playing in his third season. Winters was written off by many last season, but the former third round pick has stepped in nicely for Willie Colon this season and has likely won the job going into next season. Winters’ development under the new coaching staff has been impressive, considering a majority of analysts had him being cut last summer. The Jets are aging along their offensive line and infusing youth into it has become a priority for the Jets’ future. Winters is just the first offensive lineman to be infused, but there are more to come as the Jets rebuild.

The pattern in which Mike Maccagnan is attempting to build this team with is growing apparent. He’s upgrading positions with speed and size for Todd Bowles’ and Chan Gailey’s systems. Bowles and his coaching staff are infusing those young guys into the line up and they have just begun to contribute. Yet, the Jets even have more youth in the wings that they hope will soon be contributing.

Brent Qvale is a 6’7″/315 pound offensive tackle, he’s 24 years old. Like him or not, Geno Smith is just 25 years old.  Ronald Martin is a 6’2″/220 safety prospect at 22 years old. Josh Martin is a 24 year old line backer that stands 6’3″ and weighs 245. Jace Amaro is a 23 year old tight end on injured reserve that will be back next season. Deon Barnes is a 6’4″/255 pound line backer on the Jet practice squad. Wes Saxton is a rookie tight on on the Jet practice squad who is just 22 years old with potential.

Will all these guys pan out and deliver? Absolutely not, the point is they are all young and the Jets are focusing on developing youth. The Jets are playing solid football with the veteran signings of this past off season, but Maccagnan is looking ahead, veterans will need to be replaced. Both Chan Gailey and Todd Bowles that love speed in their schemes, and Mike Maccagnan is going younger and faster with his signings.

I’m expecting much the same from Maccagnan in this upcoming off season. His goal is to sign even more young fast players to fulfill his coaches needs. The Jets are going to be a younger and faster team next year, and that should be welcome news to Jets fans. The playoffs were made possible by young Jet players contributing in key roles as the year progressed. Todd Bowles and his coaching staff would like to see even more contributions from their youth next season. The future of the Jets looks a whole lot brighter then it did a year ago, and much of the credit has to go to Mike Maccagnan. Look for him to continue to sign players that fit the “mold” his coaches desire.

NEXT: Week 17 For Jets Brings Regime Change Full Circle

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