TOJ Roundtable – New York Jets Revisionist History Edition

The TOJ Roundtable gives one thing they would have done differently if they were Mike Maccagnan over the past two years…

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What is one thing you would have done differently if you were Mike Maccagnan over the past two years?

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Joe CaporosoI dove deeper into this here. Ultimately, Maccagnan could have been more forward thinking during his supposed “competitive rebuild.” The Jets should not be heading into his third year in a worst position than they were when he took over, which is currently true. There could have been some veteran additions but more targeted signings of players under 26, instead of over 26. There could have less trades for veterans that cost the teams draft picks. Signing a bunch of aging players to 1 or 2 years deals where they flame out before the contract is up is no way to build a winning culture.

Dalbin OsorioPaying Ryan Fitzpatrick. That’s it. It was a ridiculous move that made no sense then and it still doesn’t make much sense. He has always been a mediocre quarterback typically propped up by outlier games that bid just how mediocre he is. Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, and Chris Ivory had career defining years and a lot of people decided to give Fitzpatrick more credit than he deserved. It also spawned this weird legion of fans that rooted for him strictly because he was not Geno Smith. This defense of Fitzpatrick stretched even as he threw six interceptions in a game, threw receivers and the front office under the bus, and was just a general malcontent. Some players have talent that makes the headache worth it. Fitzpatrick has never been one of them, and Mike Maccagnan deciding to pay him $12 million dollars for one season plus an extra $5 million just sitting on the cap is about the dumbest decision he’s made in his two-plus years.

Daniel EssienThere are many things Mike Maccagnan could’ve done differently, mostly centering around the theme of managing expectations. The one thing I’ll mention here that I would’ve done differently is to quietly begin the rebuild in the 2016 offseason. So that really all boils down to not re-signing Fitzpatrick and starting Geno Smith. That could’ve also meant probably not trading for Clady (keeping the draft pick), and not signing Matt Forte (going with Bilal Powell). But really the Fitzpatrick signing was the stinker of that bunch. With Geno Smith starting, at worst, the season would’ve gone about the same way it did in the end. Instead, Maccagnan threw away money to “win now” instead of later, and ended up losing anyway.

David AitkenThe Fitzpatrick re-signing is a popular answer and it was an absolute fiasco that played out in a way that was worse than even the skeptics imagined. But even as worst case scenario it was just a one-year gaff (not withstanding the $5 million 2017 cap hit). I’ll instead choose another quarterback move that could end up being Maccagnan’s undoing – selecting Christian Hackenberg round two in 2016. Whether you liked Hackenberg coming out of the draft or not, there was consensus agreement that he was a long-term project. Maccagnan was at best naive in the idea that he had built a competitive team that could allow for slow cooking Hackenberg over several years, or at worst delusional that he’d be NFL ready sooner rather than later.

There’s a large opportunity cost with the pick. Second round picks aren’t wasted by good franchises and the Jets passed on quality building blocks to select Hackenberg. And while Maccagnan may like the new safety tandem he’s created with the team’s top two picks two months ago, Hackenberg’s selection ostensibly ruled out taking any of Mahomes, Watson or Kizer in the 2017 draft. The result is that the Jets enter year three of Maccagnan’s project and somehow are worse at quarterback than when he started.

Ryan MarconeIt’s the Fitzpatrick resigning by a mile. Not that there haven’t been other egregious errors, but this one set the table for a lot of them. Not only was the decision to resign Fitzpatrick a bad one (anyone who knew his career knew the chances of him following up a successful 2015 with anything but an awful year were slim to none), but the decision to make their desire to resign him so public so early on poisoned the locker room. Telling Fitz that he would be the starter whenever he decided to get off his couch sent shock waves of complacency and entitlement through Florham Park. It set up a culture of guys expecting a paycheck and security for past accomplishments and not the promise of future ones. And it reinforced the view that the cart pulls the horse a bit too much with the Jets front office, with moves like the Fitz resigning and the Wilkerson contract only happening after extended fan outcry for them. It’s a move that easily set the franchise back 2-3 years. Fitzpatrick was supposed to be nothing more than a stop gap bridge for this regime, but they got ahead of themselves badly and it cost them.

Scott MasonI could go with paying Ryan Fitzpatrick when he didn’t have to, but everybody else has already jumped on that one, so there’s nothing else for me to add there. I could go with paying Wilkerson and/or not trading Sheldon Richardson when he still had value, but that’s another one that just seems too obvious.

Instead, I’m going to go with Maccagnan’s strategy for rebuilding the secondary in 2015. I understand bringing back Revis because he was still one of the best in the game at that point, but paying big money to Marcus Gilchrist, – who was never any good – Antonio Cromartie, – who was one year removed from being one of the worst DBs in football and had given up over 200 yards to DeMariyus Thomas – and Buster Skrine – who was an average slot corner paid like a #1 CB – made no sense. I understand that the secondary the year before had been awful, but spending sprees like that on average players who you are counting on to be better than average virtually never work out. While the cap hit wasn’t as awful as some would’ve thought because most of the money was front loaded, it still put the Jets in the position of having to completely rebuild their secondary from scratch a mere two years later, and once again showed that the best teams in the NFL rarely go the quick fix route for a reason.

Joe MalfaI hate to beat a dead horse, but nothing comes close to the decision to re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick. This is where I’d go into all of the reasoning as to why, but just about everyone else has already so I’ll leave it at that.

It’s his most egregious offense thus far, and I hope that it served as a learning exepience to never sign a journeyman with limited ability to that large contract because he had one good season.

Kevin Zielaznicki: One thing that general manager Mike Maccagnan should’ve done differently over the past two years was not resign quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Resigning Fitzpatrick made sense after the Jets fell one win short of the playoffs in his first season, but the timing didn’t. Due to a contract dispute, he missed all offseason activities and was handed the #1 spot on the depth chart. The offense looked out of sync with him at the helm from the beginning and never really found a rhythm throughout the season. Maccagnan giving him $12 million might be one of the worst moves in Jets history.

Jake BenaquistioIn my opinion, one of Mike Maccagnan’s biggest shortcomings has been his inability to trade Sheldon Richardson. When the Jets drafted Leonard Williams and eventually signed Mo Wilkerson to an extension, it became clear that Sheldon Richardson was the odd man out of the defensive line unit. A combination of off-field issues and his performance declining has only marginalized Richardson’s trade value, which leaves the Jets with a talented player that does not fit well on their roster. Maccagnan was reportedly shopping the defensive lineman during the 2017 draft, but ultimately could not find a suitor. If the Jets’ GM had traded him a year ago, the team may have gotten some good value back. Instead, Richardson will likely remain in New York for the upcoming season, which is a bad fit for both the team and the player.


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Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the EVP of Content at Whistle Sports