They might not want to admit it, but the New York Jets are currently in a rebuilding process.
The New York Jets‘ roster is currently full of young players. Of the 53 players on the roster, 37 have four years of NFL experience or fewer. To put that into perspective, that’s approximately 70 percent of the team‘s roster.
Usually, teams that are fully rebuilding look to get their young players onto the field. With the future in mind, the organization has a chance to evaluate their talent. The goal of these assessments is to clarify which players have a future with the franchise.
However, the Jets aren’t handling the rebuilding process the way they should be.
Even before their 0-2 start, it was obvious that the Jets wouldn’t be playoff contenders in 2017. This season is solely about rebuilding, and the focus should be on developing their young players.
During the first two weeks of the season, the Jets have featured a mix of both young and veteran players. It’s very puzzling to see that the organization is giving playing time to veterans over young, developing talent.
To be completely fair, the Jets have created opportunities for some of their younger players to gain experience.
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For example, rookies Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye have seen their fair share of playing time thus far. Out of training camp, the safeties earned the starting roles at their positions, and have been very solid thus far.
Adams and Maye are just two of only six Jets players to play in 120+ defensive snaps through the first two weeks.
Jets Defensive Snap Count
This experience is great for the pair of rookie safeties. It gives them an opportunity to develop as they learn the ins-and-outs of the NFL game. They will go through some rough patches, but will gain the necessary experience to make adjustments to their overall games.
Other than Adams and Maye, other young Jets are not getting the playing opportunities that they should be. For a team who should be focused on the future, it’s puzzling to see veteran players (with no long-term future with the organization) taking the majority of the reps.
This is especially the case on the offensive side of the ball. Let’s start at the wide receiver position.
Just a week later, Stewart and Hansen were non-factors in the Jets offense.
Jets Week 2 Wide Receiver Snap Count (Out of 56 total plays)
Out of training camp, the Jets seemed to have high hopes for both of their rookie receivers. However, their recent play-time doesn’t indicate that at all.
Jeremy Kerley was inactive for Week One’s contest and saw a lot of playing time in Week Two. His presence was likely why Robbie Anderson, Hansen and Stewart’s reps were lessened on Sunday.
Does Jeremy Kerley have a long-term future with the organization? Better yet, is Jeremy Kerley even a better option than these three receivers at this point?
This is a perfect example of how the Jets are not rebuilding the right way. They have a handful of young receivers on the roster, but continue to rely on their veteran presences.
The running back position is also one of question for the Jets. Over the first two weeks, yet again the veteran player continues to get the majority of the reps.
Jets Running Back Snap Count (Through Two Games- 114 Snaps)
As teams trimmed their rosters to 53-players, there were rumors that the Jets were trying to trade Matt Forte. The 31-year-old is in the final year of his contract and is one of very few veteran players left on the roster.
Although he definitely has no future with the organization, Forte continues to see the majority of the snaps at running back, as he’s been on the field for approximately 55% of the team’s offensive plays.
The Jets went with a two-man duo at running back against the Bills, but expanded to a three-man committee against the Raiders. Still, Forte continues to serve as the team’s “workhorse” at the position.
Bilal Powell, arguably the team’s most explosive offensive weapon, was only on the field for 18 plays on Sunday.
Yes, I didn’t stutter … 18 plays.
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As opposed to 30 snaps in the team’s opener, Powell was another Jet whose role was shortened. It’s no question that Powell is a player that the Jets need to find a way to keep on the field.
Give the Jets some credit: they tried to get rookie Elijah McGuire into the mix a bit. The 2017 sixth-round pick had sen touches (six carries) for a total of 36 yards.
Moving forward, Powell and McGuire’s roles need to be increased in the offense. It’s okay for Forte to get his touches, but the team needs to distribute the load equally. Relying on a veteran who’s a short-term fix will not help the future progression of the guys behind him on the depth chart.
And of course, let’s not forget the quarterback position. For a team who parted ways with a handful of veterans, it is surprising that their starting quarterback is 38-years-old.
Signing Josh McCown to a short-term deal wasn’t a bad idea. He is a veteran presence that has been around the league for a long-time. His knowledge and understanding of the game could be very valuable as the team develops their young quarterbacks.
The question is: why aren’t the Jets playing these young quarterbacks?
No offense to McCown, but this truly just makes no sense.
Yes, McCown has been solid over the first two weeks of the season. He has completed 43-64 passes (67.2% completion percentage) for 353 yards. He has been able to help the Jets at least stay in the game for the majority of the past two contests.
Let’s face it: it is very unlikely that McCown is a member of the Jets in 2018. You probably have a better chance of seeing Ryan Fitzpatrick returning to the Meadowlands (Ok, maybe I’m pushing it!).
There’s a lot of talk about the upcoming NFL Draft. With the Jets likely vying for the first overall pick, there are a handful of talented quarterback prospects that will likely be available and worthy of that top selection.
With that in mind, why aren’t the Jets fully evaluating the quarterbacks on their active roster?
As McCown takes all the offensive snaps, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg watch from the sidelines. Now is the chance to see if either quarterback has the possibility of being a franchise type of player.
Petty appeared in six games last season, but struggled. His struggles could be attributed to growing pains, or the fact that the Jets roster was depleted by the time he took the field.
Hackenberg, the team’s 2016 second-round pick, hasn’t even taken an NFL snap yet! He has struggled in his limited preseason action, and there is a growing belief that the once highly-touted prospect is a complete bust.
It’s a long-shot, but why not put them on the field in a regular season game to see what they can do?
Playing McCown is not helping your quarterback situation. This is a critical time where the Jets need to determine what they have in Petty and Hackenberg. With 14 games left in the season, now is the time to get them both on the field to see what they are made of.
This season is critical for the future of the franchise. As they look to rebuild, they must evaluate their entire roster from top-to-bottom.
The organization must do what is right for the fans: stop pretending that you are trying to win, and start assessing your current talent to see who has a future with the organization.