New York Jets – Are They Tanking In 2020?

Stephen Russo on why the New York Jets are not tanking in 2020…

Somehow, over the course of the last few weeks, the tide has shifted in the world of Jets fandom and the panic has started to set in, and that word has been uttered more than a few times in the twitterverse: tanking. In a matter of days, the Jets traded their star safety in Jamal Adams for an absolute haul in return and their $85 million stud middle linebacker opted out due to COVID-19. Not exactly ideal for an arguably talent deficient roster as is. And for some reason, it seemed as though the “Tank Talk” didn’t start until the Jets cut guard Brian Winters (yes, you read that right). Maybe Jets fans placed an incredible amount of stake in the oft-injured guards meaning to the offensive line or maybe it was just the timing of it all, but as soon as the name Trevor Lawrence started creeping into the conversation, I had to throw my hands up in disgust.

Pump. The. Brakes.

Take a step back here. What has really happened? The team traded an All-Pro Safety who would have done anything to get out of New York, made it clear that he didn’t want to be here, and would have demanded an absurd amount of money in order to stay, which he clearly didn’t want to do. In return, they got back two first-round picks, a third-round pick, and an above average starter at the same position. Furthermore, the cornerback room (although it’s not Revis and Cromartie) is instantly improved this year without Trumaine Johnson and Daryl Roberts on the outside. You couple that improvement with high hopes for Ashtyn Davis as well, and the secondary may not be as far off without Jamal as many of us would have thought. It’s not exactly the end of the world.

Yes, CJ Mosley opted out. Yes, it hurts. Having him and Avery Williamson on the field together for 2020 would have been a very nice duo in the middle and probably one of the best in the league. However, allow me to remind you that the Jets basically played 61.5/64 quarters of football without a healthy Mosley, and a whole season without Williamson. They will get Williamson back to help offset the loss of Mosley, a luxury they didn’t have last year. And one more thing, the defense also ranked in the top 10 in DVOA last year without those two. Settle down.

This brings me to my third point. Who cares about defense?! This is 2020. This is an offense driven league. It’s time the Jets scored points! Aside from the Brian Winters gut punch (please pick up my sarcasm), the major losses that launched us into panic mode and the “tanking for Trevor” talk were all on defense. The Jets still have hope on offense. As I’ve said, written, and shouted from the rooftops before, 2020 is based on Darnold’s growth and the offensive line. If those two things are improved, the Jets will be just fine. They may not light the world on fire, but it sure won’t warrant first overall pick discussion.

Lastly, there is a big difference between tanking and rebuilding. Tanking is actively trying to lose. Rebuilding is recognizing that the roster has holes, and building for the long-term future of the team. There is no way the Jets are tanking. Not with a 3rd year quarterback out to prove himself. Not with a head coach that needs to win to keep his job. And not for an organization that has gone almost a decade without so much as sniffing the playoffs.

Realistically, there is no way that Joe Douglas could have looked at this roster after seven years of Idzik and Maccagnan mismanagement and not rebuilt it from the ground up. But there is a way to rebuild without tearing the whole thing down as well. And that is where we are. Work needed to be done. Eyes needed to be on the present and the future. Joe Douglas has done just that.

Let’s all take a collective deep breath… The Jets may not be Super Bowl contenders in 2020, but they certainly aren’t tanking.