On Sunday, the New York Jets fell to the Chicago Bears in another poor performance from the offense. Why is Sam Darnold suffering from the lack of talent surrounding him?
Watching the New York Jets perform on Sunday against the Bears it is evident that they lack talented players. While injuries are a big reason why rookie QB Sam Darnold did not have many options, is it possible that the experience he is getting is harmful?
After the game on Sunday, Ray Lucas on SNY mentioned that Darnold might be picking up “bad habits” from continually running for his life behind a woeful offensive line.
How is it possible that after seven consecutive seasons without reaching the playoffs that this is an issue?
AFC FRANCHISES THAT HAVE CONSISTENT SUCCESS
Looking around the rest of the AFC, franchises like Kansas City (posted five straight winning seasons and four 10-win seasons while reaching the postseason in four of last five years). Pittsburgh (have not had a losing season since 2003 and have reached postseason four straight and 10 of last 14 seasons), Baltimore (one losing season since 2007 along with six postseason appearances) and of course New England (14 consecutive 10-win seasons while reaching the postseason 13 times) have been able to sustain success despite not drafting high in the first round in recent years.
Ok, I know that some of you will say the Patriots and Steelers have Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger. However, how is it that despite drafting significantly later in each round of the NFL draft that they still find quality offensive lineman to block for them? How is it that the Steelers rank in the top half of the league every year despite only finishing with one losing record since 2003?
Having the benefit of a Hall of Fame quarterback isn’t always the answer to success. While the quarterback is no doubt the most critical position in professional sports, that has not helped the Los Angeles Chargers.
Phillip Rivers will be a Hall of Famer when he retires, but the Chargers have one playoff appearance and zero 10-win seasons since 2009. My point isn’t to degrade Rivers and the Chargers, but to highlight the fact that having a Hall of Fame quarterback doesn’t necessarily guarantee positive results.
ANALYZING NFL DRAFT 2012-2018
How is it that the Jets, who have drafted no lower than 20th in the first round since 2012 along with 21 draft picks 85th or higher since then, are so devoid on talent?
Compared to the Patriots (39 percent) Chiefs (42.3 percent), Steelers (48 percent), and Ravens (55.3 percent) the Jets have the lowest amount of players drafted from 2012-18 remaining on their roster (35 percent).
The Jets have the lowest percentage of active players still on NFL rosters compared to those four teams. Only 40 percent of players drafted over that period (2012-18) by the Jets are still active. The Steelers (51 percent), Ravens (51.3 percent), Patriots (60 percent) and Chiefs (63.5 percent) are all significantly higher.
Perhaps I am repeating myself, but the draft and free agency are essential to sustaining success in the NFL. The first three rounds are vital to drafting impact players that can provide immediate upgrades. Rounds 4-7 are for drafting talented players that can be developed through specific qualities and traits.
The 2019 offseason and draft will be fundamentally vital to the Jets success and Sam Darnold’s development over the next few seasons. The Jets have ignored the offensive line while focusing on defense in the first three rounds since 2012. Gang Green has used 13 selections on defense in the first three rounds while only eight have been offensive players culminating with one offensive lineman.
The Jets have drafted 34 players in the fourth round or lower since 2012. Of those 34 players, only Quincy Enunwa has achieved results that warrant mentioning. The Jets are the only team in the NFL that has not had someone drafted in those rounds make at least 30 NFL starts.
Saying the draft is essential is just one of the many factors that lead to sustained success and for as many failures there are few success stories among all NFL teams in the later rounds. Utilizing salary cap space, signing free agents that provide depth and consistency along with coaching are all equally important.
However, if the Jets intend on being a consistent contender for the postseason in years to come with Darnold at the helm, the front office, scouts and coaches all need to do a much better job at talent evaluation and developing the players they choose.