New York Jets – The Rebuilding Myth

Stephen Russo on the myths around rebuilding in the NFL

The rebuild. It is a term that has found an all too comfortable home in the vocabulary of every long-suffering Jets fan over the last decade. There are all types of rebuilds, too. Look no further than the Jets teams of recent history to see how many different ways you can do this thing:

2014 – I like to call this the “We’re going to rebuild but we’re not going to tell anybody we’re rebuilding so we are going to give you false hope that you could be good based on overachieving the previous year… but we really are rebuilding.”

• 2015 – The “Competitive Rebuild”

2016 – The “We thought we were good from the year before but realized that it was a house of cards so now we are going to be bad but pave the way for a true rebuild next year.”

2017 – The “True Rebuild”

• 2018 – The “We have a rookie quarterback so it’s obviously a rebuilding year”

2019 – The “We have a second-year quarterback and new head coach and these aren’t his hand-picked players so we’re still rebuilding.”

Now we look at the present, and in Joe Douglas’ first offseason we are already hearing that this is a “2-year plan.” So, for 7 years running all Jets fans are supposed to continue to endure more “rebuilding” and embrace the process because now the right guy is running the show? And compound that with the fact that this team has missed the playoffs 9 years in a row?

As my favorite comedian Sebastian Maniscalco would say, “Aren’t You Embarrassed?”

The fact of the matter is that any sense of the term “rebuild” is a thing of the past. It’s nonsense! This is a win-now, parody filled league. Any team, in any year, can turn it around and be playoff or Super Bowl contenders… instantly. I can point to a handful of teams that have done it in the last 3 seasons:

2019 49ers – 4-12 to 13-3 and a SB appearance
2019 Packers – 6-9-1 to 13-3 and a conference championship appearance
2019 Bills – 6-10 to 10-6 and a wild card appearance
2018 Colts – 4-12 to 10-6 and a wild card win
2017 Jaguars – 3-13 to 10-6 and a conference championship appearance

This isn’t rocket science. It CAN be done. And the Jets can be the next team to do it. The reasons why are simple.

Sam Darnold is 22 years old. 22! He is a young quarterback who has made clear progression (albeit not as big of a step as many hoped) in year two and is poised for a bigger jump in his third year. He has all the tools, makeup, and leadership ability of a top-10 QB in this league. When you have a franchise quarterback, you can remain competitive despite shortcomings elsewhere. Darnold has given the Jets something they haven’t had in a long time – a quarterback of the present and future.

Joe Douglas IS the right guy for this job. Douglas has the pedigree and is ready to build this team the right way. He’s not a cap guy with no scouting experience (hello, Idzik), and isn’t a gun-shy scouting guru hand-picked by Charley Casserly (Macc!). This is a GM who has helped build perennial winners  from the ground up with guys like Ozzie Newsome and Howie Roseman. He is an executive that knows how to build his staff and scouting department. And despite the uproar from fans on the timing of the Maccagnan firing, it is something that can be looked at in a positive light now that it has given Douglas almost a full year to prepare for this offseason. Douglas will certainly invest in the offensive line and build that wall for his franchise quarterback – something that has been neglected for far too long. He might even hit on a mid-round pick or two!

The Jets have a playoff caliber defense. They proved that in 2019 under Gregg Williams, despite season-ending injuries to their two starting middle linebackers and a patchwork cornerback group. Williams, with an improved secondary and the return of CJ Mosley, can build upon his 10th ranked DVOA defense to keep this unit respectable.

The days of the forever rebuild are long gone. The Jets don’t have to be in any different situation than the teams of recent memory I named above. Those teams were a mixture of recipes for success. Great quarterbacks to bad ones. Good coaches to decent coaches. Top defenses to bottom feeders. The model for a quick turnaround can come in many forms.

This team can be built to win now. They have the franchise quarterback, which is the biggest hurdle to clear. They have a defense they can win with, an All-Pro at running back just begging to be used, a quality slot receiver and two above average tight ends. This doesn’t have to be a lengthy process. Invest in the offensive line. Take draft swings at receivers, corners and edge rushers. Get a weapon or two in free agency. Build for your franchise quarterback.

Get weird. Score points. Win games. And stop spinning the never-ending narratives on why fans always have to “wait til next year.”

This fanbase is tired of waiting.