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Twelve bullet points of venting on the New York Jets heading into their third week of the preseason…
1 – The Quarterback Rotation: The Jets quarterback rotation has started to evolve in an odd way after the widely expected plan was executed through the first preseason game. Josh McCown was getting most of the first team reps, with Christian Hackenberg slowly getting more, with Bryce Petty in a distant third. McCown started the first preseason game, went right down the field for a touchdown and then gave way to the two young quarterbacks, who failed to generate any offense.
Against Detroit, the Jets made the mildly surprising move by starting Hackenberg, playing him the entire first half and then playing the Petty the whole second half. Hackenberg completely face planted, while Petty was halfway decent. Since then in practice, McCown has barely played while Hackenberg and Petty split most of the reps. The quarterback the Jets decided to spend 6 million dollars on this offseason is spending most of his time running sprints on the sideline.
Most people continue to think McCown will be the week 1 starter but it now looks like he might not play against the Giants this weekend. So what the hell is going on here?
The most disconcerting answer would be the Jets are clueless and are winging a half baked plan. Another disconcerting answer would be that the front office is dictating who plays, as it would demonstrate a dysfunctional organizational structure. The optimist would say the Jets know what they have in McCown and want to give their young quarterbacks every single possible chance to grab the job, even if it negatively impacts how McCown plays early in the year. Let’s not act like McCown is Tom Brady, he needs practice time but again the Jets top concern may not be winning, it may be evaluating their young quarterbacks.
2 – Media Training: I am not as down on Todd Bowles as most because he has been put in an untenable situation and gets too much blame compared to Mike Maccagnan but good lord he does himself no favors with the media. He sounds completely clueless and uninformed when discussing the quarterback situation, regularly says things that contradict each other and gives non answers to the most basic questions.
This is not complicated. Set up a messaging strategy and stick with it. “We know what we have in Josh, we want to see as much of Christian and Bryce as possible so they will see extended action this weekend. If they don’t get the job done, we are confident Josh can get enough work between now and week 1 to be ready.” Stop acting like you getting a competitive advantage by hiding your starter in the preseason. Don’t give a date when you are going to name a starter and then change that date. Don’t say it is too early to name a preseason starter 72 hours before the game starts.
3 – Reality Check: If you are a Jets fan, you want to see every player on their team play well, ESPECIALLY the quarterbacks. If you are going to be a rational, logical Jets fan, you want to be told when a player is not playing well or up to realistic standards, not have smoke blown up your ass.
Throughout 4 NFL preseason games, Christian Hackenberg is completing 47% of his passes with a 3.8 YPA, he has 2 interceptions and a lost fumble. He scored a touchdown on his first drive ever in 2016 and has now gone 26 straight possessions without generating a single point. This is objectively abysmal. There has been no progress. There is no signs that he can be a franchise quarterback. He is miles behind rookie quarterbacks this year, despite being a second year player. This is backed by basic statistics and a cursory look at film of him playing.
Certain fans get emotionally angry when they are confronted with this information. The most common response this blogger has seen is whataboutism or personal attacks. Whataboutism is saying something like “Well, Paxton Lynch sucks too!” …Great, what does that have anything do with Hackenberg or the Jets still not having a quarterback? Personal attacks are “you are a hater, you just want to be right, your t-shirts are dumb (c’mon they are great), yada, yada, yada. There will also be “JUST GIVE HIM TIME,” that’s fine but it doesn’t mean you ignore what he is currently doing right now, which is an abomination to the position.
Jets fans are not stupid. I truly believe that and they shouldn’t be treated like they are stupid. It would be easier and more popular to say “Hackenberg is showing a ton of potential” after he went 2/6 in an entire half with no zero completions past the line of scrimmage but it is intellectually dishonest.
4 – Camp Perspective: I don’t want to go full Allen Iverson here but practice does not matter that much, particularly if you are not producing in games. We have spent 15 days reading gushing accounts of Christian Hackenberg, Dylan Donahue and Austin Seferian-Jenkins dominating practice, only to see all three do little to nothing in two preseason games. It doesn’t matter how many first team reps or quarterback pressures Donahue gets in practice because he is the team’s 5th or 6th best outside linebacker right now behind Jordan Jenkins, Josh Martin, Freddie Bishop and Corey Lemonier, all of whom have played very well in both preseason games. Donahue should be battling with Lorenzo Mauldin (Macc 2015 draft class…yikes!) for a roster spot right now, unless he is going to start making the plays the other guys around him are making.
5 – Wide Receiver Woes: It sounds like recently signed Kenbrell Thompkins is currently running with the first team receivers in the slot. Why exactly did this rebuilding team draft a receiver in the third and fourth round to sit behind a journeyman veteran who missed the first 2 weeks of camp? If ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen can’t get reps with THIS group of receivers, it is an alarming sign.
6 – Kamara Leak: NYDN reported this week that anonymous sources within the Jets building are frustrated Mike Maccagnan didn’t take the opportunity to trade up for now Saints running back Alvin Kamara, who is having a strong preseason. Whether this is true or not, it is a bad sign there is internal leaking and in fighting happening already (2014 here we come!). If it is true, it is completely fine not to be trading up and giving away draft capital for a running back. The position is a dime a dozen.
7 – We’re Building Through The Draft: This only works if you are draft exceptionally well and all good teams are built through a hybrid of smart drafting, free agency and trades. Let’s not act like Maccagnan is some draft purist because he has handed away draft capital for Ryan Clady, Zac Stacy, DeVier Posey, Brandon Marshall and Ryan Fitzpatrick…none of whom are on the team heading into his third year (three are out of the NFL!) Maccagnan’s first draft class also is beginning to look like a trainwreck outside of Leonard Williams and Maccagnan hasn’t even maximized the value on that pick because he has not been able to move Muhammad Wilkerson or Sheldon Richardson.
8 – Real Fans Don’t Cheer For Tanking: Real fans don’t tell other people how to root for their teams. I will be cheering for the Jets to win every game but care substantially less than I would in most years if they lose. You can cheer for them to win every game, that is okay! You can cheer for them to lose every game, that is okay! Remember, how you root has no impact on anything whatsoever so just enjoy the ride.
This article got very long, very fast…let’s go into quick hit mode!
9 – The Jets currently don’t have one of the league’s 35 best quarterbacks in the NFL on their roster. This is inexcusable for year three of a GM/HC regime.
10 – The Jets most talented offensive player, Bilal Powell, was not added by their current GM, not by the GM before him but by the one before him.
11 – Both Jets games so far have hit the under by double digits…
— Joe Caporoso (@JCaporoso) August 25, 2017
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com