In a season mired by historical ineptitude, the Jets have also managed to find themselves on the verge of some other history. They are well on their way to the worst season in franchise history, possibly having the worst season in NFL history and they are pairing that with potentially the worst point differential of any team, ever. They are led by a historically bad head football coach, and to top it all off I think that we can all agree that they have made history for the earliest they have ever made a fanbase want to fast forward to the offseason. However, the upcoming offseason provides the light at the end of the tunnel that so many of us need.
The Jets and their fanbase desperately need this pain to be worth something – and the perfect gift would be that this historically awful display of on field play, roster management, and front office decisions provides this franchise the necessary chance to officially hit the reset button and turn the page towards something worthwhile. So, as Jets’ fans sweat out almost wins against the Patriots and hope that none of the remaining 7 games are remotely that close, I turn my attention to what we all know we are really looking forward to: the offseason.Here is my vision for a dream offseason for Gang Green, and what could springboard the Jets back to their winning ways that, at this moment, are a way too distant memory.
The Jets fire Adam Gase on the last day of the season. This should be a virtual certainty but, given the competence level of ownership and the shred of doubt that still remains in me from years of organizational ineptitude, this is anything but a guarantee. So, for all intents and purposes of this article, firing the worst coach in football and the man that got you to the top of the 0-16 precipice is step one.
Hire Matt Campbell as Head Coach. There are so many names out there of head coach candidates, all with their own draw and excitement to bring to the table. The Jets have a tendency to be oppositional when it comes to head coaching hires. By that, I mean that each hire tends to be a polar opposite in at least one way from his predecessor. With all of the possibilities: Bienemy, Martindale, Joe Brady, Daboll, etc., I feel the one that would suggest progress from ownership and a recognition of a problem would be to hire Matt Campbell. The current Iowa State Head Coach would be a different hire for the Johnsons as they dip into the college ranks, but is a clear a program builder with experience on both sides of the ball. The Jets would have a CEO type coach who would put effort into building a successful staff and program, and in a way make up for the Matt Rhule gaffe. In my eyes, this would be the perfect hire that is risky enough, while also giving a feeling of security.
Douglas spends big, and smart, at necessary positions in Free Agency. First, Joe D. backs up the Brinks truck for Joe Thuney. Clearly, this was Douglas’ plan in 2020 until the Patriots franchised Thuney in the 11th hour. Douglas gets a chance to make it right in 2021 and does so on day one of FA. Next, the Jets finally make moves that make sense and go after and sign one edge rusher from this group (Judon, Dupree, Ngakoue) and one receiver from this group (Allen Robinson, Golladay, Godwin, Corey Davis, Smith-Schuster). This will give the Jets their first true edge since John Abraham and a chance to have legitimate depth (what a concept!) at wide receiver by pairing the FA addition with Mims, Crowder, and another draft pick.
The Jets trade Sam Darnold for a late 2021 1st round pick. This may be a dream, or a nightmare, depending on how you look at it. But as the end of the season draws near, it seems more and more likely that Darnold’s days in green & white are numbered. So, the Mountain (Joe Douglas) swings another trade with a perennial contender who has a QB on the back end of his career for his future replacement in Sam. Douglas gets a late 1st rounder from a Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Indy or San Francisco in exchange for Darnold. The idea of a late one for Darnold is not so ridiculous to consider – there are many, including NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, who think a 1 for Darnold is well within reason. However, even if a one doesn’t happen, a 2nd round pick and a later pick in 2021 is a solid consolation prize.
They Draft Trevor Lawrence. The blood, sweat and tears as a result of suffering through 32 Adam Gase coached games was worth it and the Jets land their man and franchise altering quarterback, Trevor Lawrence.
The Jets use their 5 remaining picks in the first 3 rounds on impact positions: OL, WR, CB and EDGE. Assuming the Jets get a 1st or 2nd in the 2021 draft for Darnold, that would leave them with 6 picks in the first three rounds. Following the drafting of Lawrence first overall, Douglas proves his superior intelligence to his predecessors (a very low bar to clear) and drafts players at premium positions. While I don’t claim to be a Todd McShay or Connor Rogers and can’t begin to tell you who specifically the Jets should be targeting in these early rounds, what I can suggest is that simple positional allocation will be key to the Jets avoiding the same hole they dug themselves for the last 10+ years. So, avoiding interior defensive linemen, safeties, and middle linebackers in the early rounds and investing heavily in OL, Edge, CB, and receiver (and maybe sprinkle in a RB) is a solid way of improving upon a talent deficient roster and building legitimate depth for the first time in a decade.
The days of the five-season rebuild in the NFL are long gone. You don’t need to sit a rookie quarterback for 3 years before starting him anymore. With the right head coach and quarterback, and fundamental roster management and surrounding your young QB and head coach with adequate talent, leaps can be made rather quickly in today’s NFL. There is no reason that, with the right offseason, the Jets can’t go from an 0-16 laughingstock in 2020 to a competent and competitive team in 2021 and true playoff contender in ’22 – it is not as far-fetched as some want to believe. Just look at Arizona and Miami.
It all starts with the coaching hire, which will be the biggest decision this organization has faced in its history. Let’s just hope the Johnson’s are smart enough to make that choice and free themselves, this organization, and this fanbase of Adam Gase first…