The New York Jets Search For Quality and Quantity

24

After the Seattle Seahawks stunning victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, much has been made about the formula that got them there. To the relief of Jets fans everywhere, the Seahawks proved that a defense first team with a player-friendly coach can win a championship. The New York Jets, as they are currently constituted, resemble the Seahawks in numerous ways. However, from a talent perspective, the Jets have a good deal of catching up to do. They need an infusion of talent in anyway possible. Just look at the aforementioned Seahawks for the success story.

Heading into the 2010 season, the Seattle Seahawks were an absolute mess. After just one year of an unmitigated Jim Mora disaster, the Seahawks went into a total overhaul. Then GM Tim Ruskell resigned two weeks before the season’s end and left the ‘Hawks with major vacancies to fill. Only one day after firing Head Coach Jim Mora, the Seahawks inked their new head man, Pete Carroll. Ten days after Carroll joined the team, Seattle turned to John Schneider to fill their GM vacancy. Seahawks CEO Todd Leiweke announced that Carroll and Schneider would have a “collaborative relationship” over control of the team.

Sound familiar? It should. This situation very much resembles the situation John Idzik was saddled with last off season. Idzik was given the job by Owner Woody Johnson on the condition that he retain Head Coach Rex Ryan for the 2013 season. Idzik could have made up his mind, right then and there, and planned a full overhaul for the 2014 season. Instead, he took a strategy he saw succeed in the Pacific Northwest and developed a close working relationship with Ryan. Idzik, I’m sure, assessed Ryan throughout the season and I doubt the coach’s job was ever truly safe. Yet, in the end, cooperation and shared vision won the day.

The coaching and front office situation were not the only similarities shared between the two teams. After the departure of Nate Burleson and TJ Houshmandzadeh, the ‘Hawks skill position players featured such marquee names as: Justin Forsett, Ben Obamanu, Brandon Stokely, and John Carlson in starting roles. Outside of Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant, none of the Super Bowl winning defensive pieces were in place.

Prior to the 2010 draft, the team acquired Chris Clemons in a trade with the Eagles. What do Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Golden Tate, Walter Thurmond, and Kam Chancellor all have in common? Besides playing major-impact, starting snaps in Super Bowl XLVII, they were all members of the 2010 Seattle Seahawks draft class. Only three weeks into the season, the team acquired Marshawn Lynch from the Buffalo Bills. You could say 2010 was a productive year for Seattle.

Over the next three seasons the Seahawks acquired, at no major cost: Russell, Wilson, Richard Sherman, Bobby Wagner, KJ Wright, Bruce Irvin, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, James Carpenter, Zach Miller, Byron Maxwell, and Malcom Smith. Kudos to the Seahawks scouting department. The Jets and Woody Johnson must have had similar admiration for the work being done in the Emerald City as they brought in Idzik, who after Schneider, had the most personnel clout in the organization.

Now that we’ve sufficiently kissed Seattle’s ring, we can talk about how the Jets can follow suit. First some good news: the Jets are far better off going into this offseason than the Seahawks were going into 2010. The defense already has some major pieces in place in: Wilkerson, Richardson, Harrison, Coples, Davis, and Milliner. The offense, while not world beaters, can move on with the current offensive line, Chris Ivory out of the backfield, and Geno Smith under center. Outside of those pieces however, there are major holes at: wide receiver, tight end, linebacker and safety.

How Seattle handled their dearth of talent, and how Idzik handled the Jets’ last off season, is a simple two step process.

Step 1: Fill holes with moderately-to-low priced free agents

Step 2: Draft BPA and fill the roster will talent

Step two finally brings us back to the title of this article, quality and quantity. The best way to handle the overall lack of talent currently facing the Jets is to patch holes with proven free agents and fill out the roster with high potential (yet unproven) players from the draft and free agency. By ensuring the team has no “true” holes going into the season, the team can then focus on bringing in talent regardless of need.

Another strategy employed by the Seahawks front office and mirrored by Idzik is to draft regardless of fit. The best example of this is Sheldon Richardson. Going into the season the Jets were expected to run a traditional 3-4 defense with line up of Wilkerson – Ellis – Coples. It then stands to reason that when the Jets took Richardson 13th overall, many were left stunned. However, having patched holes with Antwan Barnes, Dawan Landry, and, Willie Colon, Idzik could go with the highest ranked player on his board. Now, how did that pay off? Idzik knew that his coach could scheme any player on defense to success and relied on that fact.

Offense may be a different story but the aforementioned couch GMs can forget about their “true WR1 and WR2″ designations. Right now the Jets are looking at Jeremy Kerley and David Nelson as the only pass catchers worthy of return in 2014. Should the Jets turn down Golden Tate because he too is under 6′ ? David Nelson is 6’4″ and ran a 4.54 40 yard dash, he is certainly the answer at WR1 right? Well, Tate led his team in yards and receptions and Nelson won’t take the top off a defense but makes a killing in-between the hashes. Looks and measurables are not everything. The Jets are lacking in talent and there is much to be found in free agency and the draft. The team should not shun Marquise Lee or Golden Tate because they do not “fit” on offense. If a player is talented enough and Mornhinweg is creative enough, they will get open and get the ball in their hands.

If you still don’t believe in this strategy of adding talent regardless of need or fit, then turn (once again) to the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks broke away from their strategy and dumped a ton of cash at the feet of Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, Cliff Avril, and Zach Miller. After accounting for their collective 2014 salary of $31,300,000, the ‘Hawks are staring at a staggering $3,354,037 in cap space next season. Take a look at their roster and tell me where you can find a smart cut. Now consider their impending free agents: Golden Tate, Michael Bennett, Doug Baldwin, Brandon Browner, Walter Thurmond, and numerous other contributors. Seattle seems to be in a bit of a pickle.

When it comes down to it, the Jets are not the Seahawks and the Seahawks are not the Jets. However, the similarities are uncanny. Both were franchises suffering from a history of mediocrity. Both sport defense and player first coaches. Both coaches are in a forced relationship with their GMs. If nothing else, the Seattle Seahawks success story of eschewing need and fit for quality and quantity should give hope to thousands of beleaguered Jets fans.

Just some food for thought.

  • KAsh

    Good article. The hardest part will be identifying the boundary between worth and value with free agents, so that we are not burdened with overpaid free agents in the future. I will add that Seattle is not hopeless: they can cut almost anybody and find a great deal of cap room, but it will require restructuring their star players.

    Two things on syntax:

    “The best way to handle the overall lack of talent currently facing the Jets is to patch holes with proven free agents and fill out the roster with high potential (yet unproven) players from the draft and free agency. By ensuring the team has no “true” holes going into the season, the team can then focus on bringing in talent regardless of need.”

    1) I have to assume that “going into the season” is a typo and you meant “going into the draft.”
    2) I would be careful with the term “high potential” when applied to draft picks. I think you want to say something like “will give you good production;” “high potential” is a synonym for “upside,” and while there is nothing wrong with upside, the alternate meaning moves the paragraph in a different direction.

  • John X

    The similarities are hard to ignore. The good thing is we see the finished product that might be mimicked, can work.
    Going forward, it will interesting to see how Idzik approaches this FA with so much cap room. Seattle didn’t exactly shy away from higher profile-type players. Sidney Rice was a coveted FA at the time and Percy Harvin was a splash move last year. The addition of Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril when they had Bruce Irvin and a recovering Chris Clemons signals that they weren’t shy shoppers in FA after all.
    With that track record, it wouldn’t be prudent to assume that Idzik will certainly be a bargain hunter and knowing the pressure Woody will apply to spend that money on the best players possible, I think you can still expect a few big names. It will definitely be interesting.

  • Mark Phelan

    When it’s the Jets turn to pick this year what if the best player available is another DL? Pick him? Of course not.

    Coples became the spare tire this year and promises for a super DL man evaporated. Now we have a very good DL man as a questionable LB and call that progress in the name of best player available?

    OK over the long term things can work out, but as Wilkerson said this year: for the DL to work the coverage has to improve.

  • Anthony

    @ Mark

    You’re a troll.

    Coples beasted at the end of the year. Dude absolutely blew up plays in the backfield and wracked up the QB hits. He’s a monster.

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  • David

    I am not going to say Mark is a troll Anthony because quite honestly, I understand what he is saying. Let’s say we get to #18 this year and the BPA is a defensive lineman; how exactly is that going to look to the fan base?

    Yes, Seattle looks good right now but it is going to be interesting over these next few off-seasons when they have to start paying guys like Sherman, Russell Wilson, and people like that what they are really worth. Are they going to be able to keep all of them?

  • John X

    Mark speaks (what portion is coherent, that is) the truth – this over-exaggerated notion of “BPA” that so many improperly throw around with such pride is nothing but a myth. It doesn’t exist. Anyone who disagrees, I’d be happy to discuss. (Except Kash).

    Every pick has so many factors behind it that to simply say BPA is inaccurate.
    Best Player Available is only a relevant term that applies more to “need” than anything else. This is especially true in the higher rounds where 1st round picks are anointed as starters from day one or if not and you’re a GM, it’s your last day.

    Mark is correct, BPA is not possible when you are either young, deep, or over-expensed at a particular position. And obviously we will NOT be selecting a LT, QB, C, FB, DT, DE, P or K with that 1st pick. So how can it be BPA unless you have a caveat (need)?

  • Lidman

    I’m not sure I see the point of this piece. I get that if the NYJ have 2 consecutive ‘home run’ drafts and Geno Smith develops like Russell Wilson, they’ll be good.

    I’m not sure I fully agree with the last paragraph:
    -most NFL teams ‘suffer from mediocrity’.
    -Yes, the coaches have some similarities. But, PC was brought in as the CEO of the Seattle orgnization. He arrived with an established history. His prior failures were a big part of his latter success, which is why Allen wanted him He had proven he could turn things around (at USC). Rex was brought here on the idea he could be a good coach (much like Carroll when he got the NYJ job) and was the right man for NY. Woody was trying to sell PSLs and Rex is a good salesman (and Mangini wasn’t).
    -I think Rex is in a forced relationship, because of his failures, in ’11 and ’12. PC is not. Remember, Paul Allen went after him and hired him to 5yr/$35mm deal. You don’t do that, and then say: “OK, you have to work with this guy”. I’m sure PC was very involved in who would be reporting to him, on player development. Scheider was ‘forced’ to work with him (similar to the situation in TB), not the other way around. Look at those 1st 2 drafts and look at how many late, PAC 12 guys got picked. Pete had the say there.

    Idzik is here because he accepted the job. He wasn’t the 1st, 2nd or 3rd choice. It doesn’t mean he won’t be a good choice though; time will tell us that. Seattle won the Super Bowl, and he was ther. Great, but that doesn’t tell me anything. NE won Super Bowls, yet nobody who worked there and left, for a big position (Pioli, Romeo, Weiss, Mangini, McDaniels, Dmitroff), has even led their team to a Super Bowl, and only Dmitroff has had any real sustained success.

    I don’t get this ‘replicate Seattle’ mantra. Do a good job in scouting, player development and coaching. You do that and people will be trying to ‘follow the NYJ blueprint’ soon enough.

  • Anthony

    Mark is a troll because he dispariges one of the teams 5 best players while attempting to make a contextually inaccurate statement.

    Coples is a rush linebacker and lines up as a 4-3 DE, 4-3 DT, 3-4 DE and as well as trational 3-4 and 4-3 stand-up linebacker. Mark is attempting to make a point by oversimplifying the situation.

    If the BPA is Dee Ford (a 240 lb 4-3 DE), by marks judgement we cannot take him. He’s a linemen and we have too many, regardless of the obvious fact that he can easily play standup linebacker, if taught to.

    How about Kony Ealy 6-7 287 4-3 DE, again we can’t take him because mark says so. He’s the exact same size as Coples, shares similar athletic makeup and would fit perfectly on the other side backer, but Mark says no. He’s a lineman.

  • John X

    Is that what he said?

    You know, technically, Kony would start at OLB as we all know he wouldn’t be drafted to play DE. And stop insulting everyone by listing a college player’s position while ignoring the 3-4 the Jets play. Very dishonest.

    Okay, Mark. I guess you’re a troll again.

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  • KAsh

    @JX

    You are kidding, right? Kony Ealy is the only 4-3 DE except for Clowney this year. He is not worth a first-round pick – he is not dynamic enough of a pass rusher for it – but he will probably go in the first fifteen, almost 100% in the first twenty picks because there are a lot of 4-3 teams and there is no one behind Ealy. Unlike what Anthony said, Ealy is 276 lbs., slightly less than Coples, could bulk up a bit for a perfect 4-3 DE, and would be second only to Coples as the heaviest OLB in the league, but, I repeat: he will be taken in the first round to play 4-3 DE.

    Also, BPA is BPA. Most first-round rookies are horrible in their rookie year, and if we are on the board and Jake Matthews or Clowney is there, do you think the front office will be excited or depressed because they do not fit a need? I do not even really need to explain what would happen in that situation: Idzik, Rex, the team, or whoever you wish to imagine makes the final decision either grabs the BPA or he starts picking up ringing phones to see who is offering him the best deal. (Just because you are going BPA does not mean you cannot trade back.)

    We need to start calling BPA BVA – Best Value Available – so that people will stop shitting their pants thinking about taking another DL at #18. You take the player that is worth the most to your team and trade the pick if you think you can get an even better value later in the draft.

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  • John X

    Genius,

    You are a model of consistency – you never read all of one’s posts. I clearly said that he would play OLB on this Jets team. Unbelievable! Unfrickin-believable. Will you ever READ????!!!!!!

  • KAsh

    “You know, technically, Kony would start at OLB as we all know he wouldn’t be drafted to play DE.”

    Where did you mention the Jets? This is your exact sentence.

    “And stop insulting everyone by listing a college player’s position while ignoring the 3-4 the Jets play.”

    This is your next sentence. Tell me how I am supposed to understand that you are talking about only the Jets? If you really meant to only speak about the Jets, the problem is with your English teachers: they never taught you grammar or composition. Here is what you should have written (or what a literate person would have written in your place):

    “Kony would start at OLB for the Jets, as he would not be drafted to play DE. Stop insulting everyone by listing a college player’s position, and ignoring that the Jets play a 3-4 defense.”

    Finally, Ealy is 276 lbs. Coples is 280 lbs. Is it that far off to think Ealy could play a 3-4 DE? Here is a list of the top 3-4 DE prospects:

    http://walterfootball.com/draft2014DE3-4.php

    Would Kony Ealy play DE for the Jets? I do not know. Last year, I think everyone would have told you that Coples would be the DE.

  • John X

    You are amazing, Kash.
    You would have me believe that Kony, if drafted would be better suited to the 3-4 DE position than Richardson and/or Wilkinson? Have you looked around the league at average weights for 3-4 DE’s? You might want to do that because you look ridiculous. And you might not want to take Walter Football as gospel. You want to bet how many of those under-weight propsects play 3-4 DE? Try none.

    You ask me where I mention the Jets? How about the next sentence. How about the entire thread. Oh, that’s right, you have a comprehension problem. Well, look no further than the next sentence that YOU copied and it mentions none other than our beloved Jets. WOW!!!
    You’ve got mental issues – you can get help.

  • Chris

    Yes Coples came on strong at the end but that’s when Rex moved him inside. Coples is at his best when he rushes inside watch the film. I like the plan this year that leaves us with picks and cash. DOn’t go crazy on free agents, Harvin was hurt all year as was Rice this always happens around the league after a big payday free agent. Get quality hard working guys that are proven to stay healthy.Draft production now guys that will become stars later. The WR class is soo deep you can find good players in 3-5 round. Clean out the rest of the trash ie. Holmes, Gates,even Ed Reed. #1 draft pick should be a tight end, there are 2-3 beast who are tall strong and fast as receivers. This move allows us to take second and third round receivers. Then lex Rex out of the locked closet and fill his holes at LB CB an S

  • David

    Here is my thing and I know I can only speak for myself: As a fan of the NY Jets, the FO and what not is going to have a hard time convincing me or getting me on board with using a 1st round pick again on Defensive Lineman just because he was the BPA. Too many more 1st round d-linemen and we will become the Detroit Lions of D-linemen.

    It is pretty obvious the offense is lacking and if that means grabbing a WR or TE a little earlier than necessary, so be it. It is time to start helping the offense.

  • Nikolas

    As of now, most experts and fans agree that the largest “gap” in individual talent, for this Jet team to compete for a SB, is in the WRs, TE and QB positions.
    But football is a team sport, which means that apparent deficiencies in the performance of players are not solely due to lack of individual talent but also of inadequate team synergies. That is why assessment of “adequate talent” or “needs” becomes hard.
    E.g. If Geno holds the ball too long and he is sacked, some offensive lineman may look bad; or if an offensive lineman does not block properly, Geno may be sacked and then Geno looks bad. We all know this staff and that is why every Sunday we try to analyze whose fault was that bad play or not.
    But in football the most important synergies start at the point of attack when the ball is snapped. It all starts between the defensive and offensive line.
    The Idzik & Rex regime appears to recognize this fact, and that is why, to the surprise of many, last year they drafted Richardson. By drafting Richardson they were able to build an elite DL.
    If they are consistent with their plan, and perhaps again to the surprise of many, in the first round they should not draft a TE or a WR but rather an offensive lineman like Zak Martin (if available). Zack Martin could have the same effect on our offense as Richardson had on our defense.
    The point that I am trying to make is that the focus ought to be in building an elite OL. Rex calls it, “building from inside out”. With an elite OL all individual talents in the skilled positions of the offense will be maximized; and only then proper assessments of talent adequacy can be made.
    Look what happened to Denver, a team with the most talent than any NFL team in the skilled offensive positions, when their offensive line was dominated by the Seahawks DL; exactly the same thing that happened to Tom Brady and the New England patriots when the OL of their undefeated 18-0 team was shredded by the Giants DL.

  • KAsh

    @JX

    I cannot help your grammar, if you refuse to even recognize your mistakes.

    A list of “under-weight prospects” that play DE: Justin Smith (267 lbs. in college), Ray McDonald (276 lbs.), Antonio Smith (274 lbs.), Pernell McPhee (278 lbs.), Brett Keisel (279 lbs.). I could look up more names. Players gain weight (especially when they transition from college) and weight does not determine talent. Would Ealy be better than Richardson or Wilkerson? That is for the scouting department to determine. But all this nonsense about deciding where Ealy fits based solely on weight is a pathetic excuse for an argument.