We’ve come a long way since the early eighties. Back then, players during the NFL offseason would seek to make a few extra bucks in many ways including by playing basketball in local mid sized arenas. I remember being a kid going to the Westchester County Center for those heated Giants/Jets games. Today, for players it’s all about year round football training and and the millions each team will save if they drop this veteran or that veteran. Cap casualties.
It was an eye opener to first see my Jet lineman heroes dribble like six year olds and tight ends shoot the ball from the perimeter like stiff backup centers as I realized that hey, it wasn’t their sport. It was simply an offseason cash gig. Risky of course, as far as injuries but that’s how it was back then. Contracts weren’t astronomical yet.
Jets RB Tom Newtown once stopped in front of me and a buddy whose dad had season tickets at Shea since 1964. This as the Jet walked to the court from the team “locker room” (a room with small metal 1950’s era gym lockers on the second floor) ripped my friends burger right out of his hand, said “thanks kid” and ate it as he approached the Jet team bench for warmups. We both yelled at him angrily at the but were helpless, amidst the chaos of diehard New York football fans lining up as the players came onto the court. As we all salivated for some odd reason at the chance to watch our beloved heroes perform layup lines full of clanks, bricks, and some never seen before jump shooting forms. Anything to mingle with those Jets.
Those games got feisty too. These guys were competitors who didn’t like to be embarrassed in any athletic endeavor. Especially in front of a crowd. Elbows, and pushing and shoving after the whistle were commonplace during those contests. All in the name of a little supplementary income too.
Fast forward to February 2015. Guaranteed you won’t be hearing any chatter about who is starting at power forward for the Jets hoop team this weekend. Instead we turn to the immediate matter at hand. Who is worth keeping when those offseason bonuses kick in.
Rich Cimini ran a brief piece this past week highlighting four Jet vets and what the Jets would owe and save. For Percy Harvin the price would be 10 million and a fourth round draft pick to Seattle to keep. Cut Chris Johnson and save 3.5 million, Calvin Pace 2.5 mil, and Jason Babin 1.35 million.
At first glance I’d keep Babin. He made plays and as a situational guy that price is reasonable given what he can provide in the pass rush department. Johnson I don’t expect back. Pace is like Amare Stoudemire in many ways now. Good Jet. Liked by the fans. Classy. If Mike Maccagnan and Co see additional value in him as a teacher and leader, maybe he stays. As for Harvin the key has to be whether or not new OC Chan Gailey sees Harvin as a weapon he can elevate to another level. Otherwise the cost just won’t be worth it. He’s more than a short term rental to save an embattled GM like John Idzik now. Harvin is an investment so if it’s a yes, he has to be viewed by the new coaches on offense as a primary cog in the new offensive machine.
All week long when sports radio turned to Jets talk, the Marcus Mariota chatter was the focal point of it. Mock drafts by local guys like Steve Serby (not that he knows what he’s talking about half the time) have the Jets taking Mariota, before Chip Kelly and the Eagles somehow swoop in.
I’ll say it again, for now the sixth straight season. Draft a quarterback every year for all I care. First round, second round, fifth round. Whatever. Just make sure there is a viable or at least semi viable veteran on the roster who can start and reasonably control games until the kid is ready.
Throwing a guy behind center for sixteen weeks just to learn (or in Geno’s case 30 games) is not fair to fans who are spending extra hard earned money to pay for PSLs. The fan base deserved a chance to see the entire 53 man roster compete and stay in the race past Halloween.
Many of you diehards who read this No Huddle weekly know more than me about the college crop coming out. My thought here is not about how worthy of a selection Mariota is. It’s about risking the entire team and yet another season on the pace of a young signal callers development. Draft him fine, but keep options that surround him on the depth chart open. Including Geno, and other free agents who may fit financially. Brian Hoyer, Shaun Hill. Don’t leave yourself forced to start a rookie who isn’t prepared to. Again.
Joe Namath was drafted in 1965 but so was Notre Dame star QB John Huarte that same year. Incumbent Mike Taliaferro remained from the ’64 squad to compete as well. I know. The kids start immediately right out of school nowadays. Well, they don’t have to. It’s not always the wise move for the team or the players personal development.
When it comes to Todd Bowles, what he thinks of guys like: Quinton Coples, Calvin Pryor, the Jet cornerbacks that filled in somewhat admirably last year, Demario Davis, Dee Milliner, Dex McDougle, and yes even the Finger Wag, Kyle Wilson.
A new set of defensive eyes now rules over all of the Jets taken over the past four years who haven’t emerged yet as bona-fide pieces. With no emotional ties to any. Hey, great coaches recognize and can maximize talent. Who among the aforementioned has what it takes in Bowles opinion, to reach a higher performance level consistently?
– I’ll admit it. I loved Rex Ryan and appreciated his love for the Jets. But at this point, I don’t miss him like I thought I would.
– The Grammys are the Pro Bowl of Music. Stars performing under modified rules like lip syncs. Songs are often played down a key from their natural place to make singing in key easier. Odd forced rookie tandems and veteran teammates. Seems unnatural in so many ways when you watch it, doesn’t it?
– The Jets have it be creative and smart this offseason. Therefore the best move Mike Maccagnan can make before he goes ahead and plots out a course for the Jets in free agency and the draft is to call up Kanye West and see what he thinks. Since he’s the earth’s sole expert on creativity.