The New York Jets have an important off-season coming up following a 5-11 season. Will they be looking to compete or rebuild?
The New York Jets‘ performance against Buffalo in Week 17 was two things:
1. A year too late
This team could’ve certainly benefited from that type of fervor for winning last season. It would’ve secured a postseason berth and set them up on a date with a underwhelming Bengals team. Keep playing the “what if” game at your own risk, Jets fans.
2. It prevented them from capitalizing on the ideal draft position
In the grand scheme of things, it’s probably not the biggest of downfalls. A loss to the Bills would’ve given the Jets the fifth overall pick in the upcoming draft.
At 4-12, New York would’ve been tied with Los Angeles and since the Rams beat the Jets, they would “win” the tiebreaker. Which essentially is losing if you think about it.
As it stands, the Jets will have the No. 6 pick and though losing one spot doesn’t signal the world is ending, when you’re the Jets, you’re in no position to have these kinds of things happen. Hopefully, for their sake, this doesn’t dramatically alter their plans.
There’s still a chance for Gang Green to ascend back into the conversation of relevancy, but it begins with an incredibly important offseason.
Because we’re uncertain as to what the ideology is and how close this front office feels the team is to contention, there are a plethora of scenarios on the table.
The Jets could decide they’re one piece away from ending the six-year long playoff drought a la Tony Romo. Various reports indicate his time in Dallas is coming to an end because of the emergence of rookie sensation Dak Prescott.
Or they could simply look in the mirror and not be fond of what they see: a seismic makeover is needed. You don’t finish 5-11 because some breaks didn’t go your way and you were devoid of that one game changer. The problem has more layers than that.
Ultimately, circumstance will dictate that decision making. The most discussed topic will undoubtedly be the quarterback position.
The Jets found themselves in a very unique and unfavorable situation. Not only did they have an unprecedented four quarterbacks on the roster (the more QBs you have, the less you actually have), but they had no idea who the long term answer was.
Their starter, Ryan Fitzpatrick, turned 34 during the season and was clearly not the guy. He’s had two superb seasons in his career. Both, coincidentally, came in contract seasons. After he cashed in, he became Ryan Fitzpatrick again, which is nowhere close to being a good thing.
The back-up was Geno Smith and he’s become a guy you almost have to feel bad for. His Jets career has been a revolving door of disasters. He was prematurely forced into the role of starter after Mark Sanchez suffered a season-ending injury in a meaningless preseason game.
That right there serves as a precise microcosm of the Jets‘ fortunes.
Smith played well in his rookie season, leading a laughable Jets roster to 8-8, including a couple of game winning drives to excite the fan base. He did this while throwing to guys like Greg Salas, Jeff Cumberland and Jeremy Kerley.
With all due respect to those guys, defensive coordinators weren’t exactly putting in long hours trying to figure them out.
But since then, Smith has been the butt of all the jokes, except for the “butt fumble” one, famously copyrighted by his predecessor. He’s been punched in the mouth by a teammate and subsequently punched in the mouth a fan base that was tired of his drama. Then when given the starting job this season, it only lasted a half because he tore his ACL.
Bryce Petty, whom the Jets drafted last year in the fourth round, was viewed as someone who just wasn’t ready. We heard questions about him being able to read defenses. And those questions were actually answered, but not in a positive manner this season. He struggled in that area and made a litany of poor decisions before ending his season with a shoulder injury.
That brings us to Christian Hackenberg, who didn’t play a single snap this year. Considering all that went wrong behind center, that’s mind boggling.
A player taken in the second round with the 51st pick was somehow not good enough to play at all this season for a team that had five wins all year against the Bills (twice), 49ers (worst team in the NFC), Browns (worst team in the AFC) and the Ravens. That’s an impressive resume. Make them the prohibitive Super Bowl favorites for 2018.
Though the situation is a mess, I’m of the mindset that the Jets should refrain from drafting a quarterback. They’ve done this four times in the last five years.
By drafting another player who you believe is your next franchise quarterback (and I say “next” with a grin, because who was the last?) it means they’ve wasted high draft picks the last few years — and this falls under the cardinal sins of trying to escape the NFL cellar.
Typically when you take players in the first four rounds, there’s confidence these guys could become starters sooner rather than later. I’ll reiterate something: Petty was a fourth rounder and Hack a second rounder.
Drafting another means you’ve just wasted a second and fourth round pick that could’ve been used to fill glaring holes like the secondary and offensive line.
Tony Romo should absolutely be a priority this season, even if it means having to part ways with Sheldon Richardson. It would satisfy needs for both sides. Though the Cowboys finished as the 5th best scoring defense in the NFL, they’ve lacked a consistent pass rush. And the Jets obviously haven’t had a good QB since 2008.
There are weaknesses on this roster, no question. But should Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker both get healthy, the Jets would be set with the receiving corps. Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson both showed promise and could have an impact alongside those studs.
Bilal Powell needs to be the starting running back next season. This was missing all season, as the Jets tried to rely on an old and worn down Matt Forte to give them a rushing attack.
179 total yds.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) December 12, 2016
And it’s easier said than done, but with the draft status they currently have, the roster should be infinitely better next year. Romo isn’t going to come in and win a Super Bowl.
We don’t even know that he’ll stay healthy. But what’s the risk? What else do you have to lose?
Or if the answer isn’t Romo, find a veteran stop-gap QB who could buy time for Petty and Hackenberg to get ready. The bottom line is this: you had better not have swung and missed on two QBs taken that high. Especially when you’ve had opportunities to draft guys like Derek Carr, Dak and Russell Wilson.
Suffice it to say that this will be a very interesting offseason, to say the least.
We’ll learn about where this team thinks it is when the time comes to make those types of organization decisions. But until then, do what the Jets will be doing. And that’s watching the playoffs. They should be used to that but now, right?