Another NFL season has come and gone without a happy ending for our New York Jets. I am cognizant of the fact that by covering the team pragmatically on this site and Twitter, there is not many nice or optimistic things said about the Jets. I am also aware that every list I write is 12 items long. NOT TODAY.
Today, I give you five reasons to be optimistic about our underachieving child living in Florham Park…
1 – Quarterback Above Everything
The Jets have hope at quarterback, an infrequent occurrence throughout their franchise history. A great quarterback has the ability to overcome both roster shortcomings and coaching deficiencies. Sam Darnold has not proven he is a great quarterback yet but has flashed enough talent to believe he will at least be a second contract quarterback for the Jets and a player to keep building around. Year three will be pivotal for him. The franchise needs him to ascend to being a top five quarterback in the AFC and to start regularly becoming the best quarterback on the field in all his divisional games. When it comes to Darnold, the potential is there. The talent is there. The time is there, as he is only 22 years old and still has three years left on his rookie contract (although you can start to hear the clock ticking on it). At a minimum, Darnold provides Jets fans something to be excited about watching every week.
2 – The Mountain
Joe Douglas has rightly received an extended honeymoon from Jets fans, as he shepherded over the charred remains of what Mike Maccagnan left behind for the 2019 season. It is now his time to shine in his first offseason surrounded by his personally select and rebuilt front office led by Rex Hogan, Phil Savage and Chad Alexander. Somewhat similar to Darnold, Douglas has not proven anything yet but there is reason for hope and optimism about his ability long term. Douglas has the resume and experience to believe he could be a very good GM for this franchise. At a minimum (one more time), he is not Maccagnan or John Idzik, which is a step in the right direction.
3 – All Things End
New England is still the favorite to win the AFC East, with or without Tom Brady and his goddamn Hulu commercial. Yet, we saw New England lose a meaningful home game to Ryan Fitzpatrick last year and then lose again the following week fairly decisively in a home playoff game. Even if New England is the favorite, the days of them clinching the division in October may be trickling to an end, while Buffalo would seem to be a regression candidate coming off a surprising 10-6 season. Mathematically, it remains astounding the Jets have went nine seasons without a playoff appearance and have only exceeded .500 in one of those nine seasons. It may not be this season but pragmatically we appear to be in the final moments of the Belichick/Brady monolith steamrolling everyone and everything in the AFC East. The more interesting question is who becomes the Patriots long term quarterback to spend the decade going against Darnold, Josh Allen and likely Tua Tagovailoa?
4 – Signs Of A Middle Class
One thing that has always plagued the Jets is their lack of a middle class on their roster and the necessary depth of lower paid players to consistently compete. They are not there yet but we saw signs of the potential beginnings of it last season. On the defensive line, instead of continuing to splurge comical amounts of resources into the positional group, the team may be just fine with Nathan Shepherd, Foley Fatukasi and Kyle Phillips assuming larger roles long term, On the offensive line, Alex Lewis appears to be a starting caliber player had for a low cost. On special teams and as backups at receiver, both Vyncint Smith and Braxton Berrios seem more than competent. At corner, Blessaun Austin and Arthur Maulet look to be useful assets heading into 2020. It is far from perfect at this moment but it is something.
5 – More Dart Throws
The only way the Jets really turn this thing around is by drafting substantially better. In many ways, the draft is a crapshoot and thus you want as many spins on the wheel as possible. The Jets will get off to a strong start with that in 2020 as they have four picks in the first three rounds thanks to a wise trade of Leonard “Hidden Production” Williams (which will also net them another pick in 2021). The Jets also have their 4th, 5th and 6th round picks and could have their 7th depending on how the conditions of the Alex Lewis trade shake out. It isn’t out of the question for them to acquire more picks pre-draft as well, if they look to move a veteran or two.