Joe: Connor, despite being constantly told I am #TEAMTANK and far too negative on our beloved Jets, I have consistently said they will win 5-6 games this year. Am I insane with that win total prediction?
Connor: Joe, I don’t think you’re insane because of a few reasons. The first being, this defense is a lot better than people realize. The front is loaded and Muhammad Wilkerson, coming off of an awful season, is healthy and playing to hold onto that extension. Sheldon Richardson is literally in a contract year. Leonard Williams is very, very good. Safeties make Todd Bowles’ system go, as seen during his most successful days in Arizona.
The second reason and back to Bowles, he’s coaching for his job. The front office seems to have little plans on contending this season, but this is a hungry staff.
Let’s not get crazy, I think the Jets are a bad football team this year. I think they’ll win 3 or 4 games, but it’s better to be young and bad with the hope of contending in two years, rather than old and bad with little plan.
I raise you this – the Jets are clearly going to have a huge decision to make next Spring with a potentially good quarterback class. How can they evaluate Hackenberg, a multi-year project, in this offense?
Joe: There is zero doubt in mind the entirety of the Jets next offseason is going to be spent debating if they should take a quarterback in the first round, look in free agency (Ryan Tannehill, Alex Smith, Tyrod Taylor) or give Hackenberg another chance. I CAN’T WAIT!
Is the Jets offensive situation fully fair to Hackenberg? No, but I ultimately don’t care. He is a second year player and if he is really going to be a franchise quarterback, he should be able to show signs of elevating the players around him. If you are passing on Darnold, Rosen, Allen or Jackson you better be DAMN sure that Hackenberg is your guy for the next 10 years. Both of us agree that McCown is probably starting the year before eventually giving way to Hackenberg. I think the Jets need to give him at least 8-10 starts, running a big boy playbook. If he is productive with this supporting cast, getting better each week and showing substantial strides from his last two years at PSU, I think then you have a real debate on your hands.
You are the draft man, just HOW good is this quarterback class going to be and how crazy would the Jets be to pass on a quarterback if Hackenberg plays to a 2013/2014 Geno Smith level this season?
Connor: I’ve said this quote A LOT over the years (most recently about Jacksonville) but ‘there’s only so many times you’ll be in position to pick a franchise QB.’ If the Jets pick top 3 next year, who the hell knows when they’ll be back up there? Sure, you can trade up, but you have to surrender nearly two whole drafts to do that in this era.
I really like what this quarterback class can become. Josh Rosen has everything you look for in a passer: arm talent, smooth mechanics and the ability to work the pocket. He’s the most impressive of all in this group and the best I’ve watched since Mariota/Jameis a few years ago.
Sam Darnold really flashed in his 9 game stretch last year, especially in the intermediate game. He takes a lot of chances and needs to improve on timing with his receivers (having a full offseason being the penciled in starter should help). He’s going to win the ‘intangibles’ competition – scouts, teammates, coaches and everyone else that’s been around him rave about his attitude and leadership. With that being said, he still has things to work on and #Suck4Sam is a bit insane right now.
Then there’s Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson, two wild cards with all-world upside but both completely unfinished projects. Allen’s arm strength is freakish and Jackson’s play-making ability is rare. I can’t wait to see what they showcase this year and hopefully improve enough to work their way into the upper tier I currently see Darnold and especially Rosen in right now.
Now that was probably A LOT to take in, but should indicate how important it is for the Jets to come out with one of the top guys if they aren’t completely sold Hackenberg is the answer. I feel like the Jaguars made a mistake this year in passing on Watson/Trubisky/Mahomes to keep rolling with Bortles. The Jets can’t do the same thing.
With all of this QB talk, these guys need *someone* to throw the ball too. With Robby Anderson the only front-running option right now in this crowded group, who do you like to find a role in the starting offense this year?
Joe: Based on performance so far, Charone Peake and Chris Harper should join him in the starting three wide. This staff seems to love Jalin Marshall for some reason so he is going to be in the mix after week 4 and it is only a matter of time until ArDarius Stewart starts getting touches funneled to him as well. Outside of Anderson, I think you are going to see a large rotation and targets widely spread out at the receiver position. Both the tight ends (finally) and the running backs are also going to be heavily involved in the passing game.
This feels like the type of offense where Anderson has over 65 catches and seven other players have between 20-40 receptions. I always prefer to have bigger targets out there, especially with inaccurate quarterbacks so I’d like to see more Peake and less Marshall, more Hansen and less Stewart and more ASJ/Leggett.
Before we wrap, what are the odds that when the trade deadline passes this season Buster Skrine, Steve McLendon, Matt Forte and Sheldon Richardson are all on this roster? What name veteran is most likely to be moved and in regards to Richardson, has the ship sailed on moving him?
Connor: The Jets have really fumbled the Sheldon Richardson situation. One of him or Muhammad Wilkerson should’ve been moved over the last two years and they failed to pull the trigger. I think Skrine, McLendon and Forte all play out this season, but I would bet on Richardson being moved and here’s why:
1) Many keep arguing you let him play out the year, hit free agency and recoup a 3rd round compensatory pick. There’s almost NO chance they get that pick, as they are expected to be big time spenders in free agency next offseason. That will cancel out the compensatory selection, that’s just how the system works in the NFL.
2) While the Jets are projected to pick in the top three next year, they still need draft capital as insurance. What if they do win 6 or 7 games and find themselves in no man’s land in the draft order? This front office, like all that reach the point of clinging on for dear life, will need to attach themselves to a promising franchise passer. They can’t afford to miss out on that opportunity and need as much assets to navigate as possible. Richardson is most likely their only trade chip worth much.
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