New York Jets Top Five – Real Time Edition

Joe Belic goes REAL TIME on the New York Jets heading into Thursday Night Football

Gang Green got the win on a Ficken last-second field goal in a seemingly meaningless game and Jets Twitter was once again polarized.  Many fans insisted wins were more consequential while countless advocates clamored for the importance of a high draft pick. With Bell out—and bowling one heck of a game—some “discussed” his role in this offense while others contemplated the emergence of a certain quarterback in Tennessee.  It didn’t stop there, as Sam Darnold himself was questioned, and enthusiasts debated his legitimacy as a franchise quarterback.  

As an homage to one of the more entertaining TV shows (Real Time with Bill Maher), in this week’s Joe Jet 5, below are several things I don’t know for a fact are true, I just know they are.

1) I don’t know it for a fact that Sam Darnold is a franchise QB, I just know it’s true.

Everybody doubting Sam needs to take a step back, and look at the promise he’s shown.  Sam is playing at a ridiculously high level considering his limited experience. Sam is the youngest QB to start a season opener since 1970, and the second youngest QB to ever start an NFL game.  It’s astonishing—and I assume most people forget—he was a linebacker/WR most of his time in high school, and only started one full season at QB, because of a broken foot. Think about that for a second. 

Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Patrick Mahomes, John Elway, Steve Young, Drew Brees and many others were still developing in college, at Sam’s age, when he first picked up an NFL playbook. 

Peyton Manning, in particular, was being groomed for the position since he could walk, and in his first season (age 22), he threw 23 interceptions. 

Steve Young didn’t start until he was 24 and had played several years of subpar football before finding his groove in San Francisco.  

Drew Brees averaged 6.05 Y/A, and threw 31 interceptions his first two seasons as a starter and became one of the most prolific passers in NFL history. 

Brett Favre (third year in the league) threw 24 interceptions his first year as a full-time starter in Green Bay, with 6.3 Y/A, and barely cracked a 60% completion percentage.

Wondering about John Elway? Just go look up his stats yourself, you might be shocked.  The list of high-quality quarterbacks who struggled at the beginning of their careers is substantial. 

This season, according to PFF, during weeks 10-13, Sam received the third-highest overall grade (82.4) amongst all QBs during that span. 

Last season, between the weeks of 14-17, Sam Darnold finished with an 87.7 overall grade, which ranked 1st among QBs with a minimum of 100 drop backs.

Don’t let a few errant passes in Miami throw you off. Again, Sam is only 22, and he’s going to experience growing pains.  It’s way too premature to label him a bust or question his legitimacy as a franchise QB. The Jets haven’t enjoyed a lot of wins in his first two seasons, but after a mere twenty-three starts, and some jaw-dropping plays, Sam is the most promising young QB to ever don a New York Jets Jersey.

2)  I don’t know it for a fact that Adam Gase was harmless to Ryan Tannehill’s development, I just know it’s true.

Ryan Tannehill was in the league for four years—and never missed a game—prior to Gase’s arrival.  

When Gase finally arrived in Tannehill’s fifth year: Tannehill had his best season to date, enjoyed his highest yards gained per pass attempt (7.7), best completion percentage (67.1) and passer rating (93.5).

The Dolphins made the playoffs and finished with ten wins (8-5 under Tannehill) despite Tannehill’s absence for the final three games with an injury.

Tannehill missed the entire 2017 season with an ACL tear and only played eleven games in 2018 because of a shoulder issue.  

In the three years with Gase, Tannehill was only available for 24 of 48 games because of injuries.  During that time, Tannehill did show flashes of greatness, including a near-perfect passer rating (155.2), 13.95 Y/A, 73.8% completion percentage, and 3 TDs in a win versus the New England Patriots in 2018. 

Nobody knows what Tannehill could have developed into if he remained healthy throughout Gase’s tenure, and to suggest that Tannehill’s recent success is the result of no longer playing under Gase is, in my honest opinion, irresponsible reporting.

3) I don’t know it for a fact that Le’Veon Bell is hurting the running game, I just know it’s true. 

I have written several articles about Bell’s role in the run game, and I won’t go much further here.  What I will say is, if a running back is genuinely one of the most versatile athletes in the league—and making top dollar—he should be capable of performing in any system. 

The offensive line and Adam Gase play a role in the dismal rushing attack, but Bell remains part of the problem.  If we are on separate sides of this argument and you don’t think Bell is hurting the run game, ask yourself this: Is Le’Veon Bell helping the run game? I think the answer to that is unequivocal. 

4) I don’t know it for a fact that wins are more important than draft order, I just know it’s true. 

Tanking should only be done for selecting potential franchise quarterbacks. Once a team has its signal-caller, it’s more beneficial for morale and team chemistry to rack up as many wins as possible.  Don’t get me wrong. Having a high draft pick, especially to use as trade bait could benefit a team, but I won’t actively root for losses unless absolutely necessary.  

Now, I don’t blame anybody for wanting a higher draft pick. The season is lost, and the chances of choosing a viable player appear to be greater with a top selection.  I won’t lie. I even caught myself this past Sunday, hoping he missed the kick, but at the same time, wins are contagious, and these guys need as many under their belt as possible.  

It was nice to get the third pick in the draft last year, and I still have hope for Quinnen (even if I wanted the Jets to go in another direction), but had the Jets won one more game, Josh Allen’s nine sacks could have very well been in a Jets uniform.  Having the higher pick doesn’t always work out, especially if your GM has no idea how to navigate the draft. 

5) I don’t know it for a fact that Joe Douglas will be our finest General Manager, I just know it’s true.

Ok. There’s been some controversy in his first year.  Trade rumors at the deadline put Douglas in a precarious position, and he was left defending himself for doing his job.  Fielding offers for players come with the territory, and that goes for anybody on the roster, even Jamal Adams. Entering into a situation with a coach in place and a roster he had no hand in building isn’t an easy undertaking, and Douglas has handled it well. 

Douglas hasn’t hit any home runs on the waiver wire, but he has been active and, at this point, that’s all one could ask for.  

Alex Lewis isn’t exactly a stud, but at least he had the foresight to make a trade. 

Trading Leonard Williams to the Giants was a masterful move that will pay dividends.  Douglas will have four selections in the top three rounds, and I’m thrilled to see what he’ll do with the picks.  He comes from a culture that emphasized building the offensive line, and fans should feel comfort in knowing that Sam will finally get the protection he deserves when the 2020 season begins.  

*Sources-Football outsiders, Pro-football-reference, and PFF