When the New York Jets take on the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, many fans already expect a loss. How can this season be successful outside of the Jets final record?
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General manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles are both in the third year of what is now a rebuilding project. Both men have been given passes for their mismanagement of the salary cap space they inherited when they were hired in 2015.
Maccagnan is being given another chance to prove he can build this franchise through the draft. However, he needs the players he’s drafted over the past three years to show why he invested picks in them. If this season goes by and those players clearly do not progress and take steps toward proving they are players this franchise can build around, then Maccagnan might not have another draft to choose from.
The situation is the same for Bowles, who has been given a reprieve from his 2016 debacle. The Jets front office is not going to base this season on wins and losses for Bowles. However, if he still makes the same rookie mistakes in time management, miscalculating when to risk going for it on fourth down and loses the locker room by not sticking to discipline, then he too will not be given another season with this franchise.
A perfect example of the second point is what Bowles did on Sunday when the Jets faced a fourth down and eight with just over four minutes left. In a season where wins and losses aren’t what he is being evaluated on, choosing to give the ball back to an offense that had outgained your offense by almost 200 yards was confusing, and sent the wrong message to everyone that needs to see a difference. Bowles needs to be better than that.
He needs to show the players and the franchise that he believes in them. If his “One Team, One Goal” motto means anything, then having belief in execution when they are backed against the wall is a must.
The fans and followers of this franchise are sick and tired of the same old conservative crap. They want risk takers. They want to see the players this GM drafted to be on the field and given a chance to develop.
Earlier this week I wrote about how their offense needed to be more unpredictable. It also needs to showcase the talent they drafted. By the end of 2017, the Jets should know exactly what they have in the four offensive players they drafted in rounds 3-6.
While I understand that you don’t want to expose rookies to failure if they are not ready, the future of this franchise is in developing players through the draft. All rookie camp and preseason the coaches were excited with what they saw from execution to athleticism to excitement.
Mike Maccagnan has committed to building through the draft. It’s time that the players he drafted be given a bigger role in having a chance to develop. Seeing Chad Hansen, ArDarius Stewart and Jordan Leggett getting 5-10 targets a game wouldn’t be something that would disappoint a fan base desperate to believe in Maccagnan’s plan to rebuild through the draft.
As I’ve stated many times in my articles, the reasonable Jets follower shouldn’t expect many wins in 2017. Talent and experience are two things this roster lacks. What this season needs to be about is the development of players the Jets can build around and coaching to win instead of not lose.
Mark Kelly covers all New York Sports and the New York Jets for ProFootballSpot.com. You can follow him on twitter @CkmagicSports. A two-time Emmy Award Winner and former ESPN Researcher, Mark’s story of surviving cancer has touched many lives. Read more about Mark here or go to CKMagicSports.com and click on KNOCKOUTCANCER.