In addition to being a long-suffering NY Jets fan (that phrase definitely rings true this year), I am also a Rutgers Football fan. I grew up about twenty minutes from Rutgers University in New Brunswick and graduated from Rutgers. Yesterday watching Rutgers win their opening game of the season, in the return of Greg Schiano on the banks of the old Raritan, made me think of what the Jets can learn from the Rutgers football team.
To begin with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights won their first Big Ten game over twenty games and defeated Michigan State 38-27 on the road at Michigan State yesterday. The Rutgers defense forced seven turnovers and held the lead throughout the course of the entire game. Seeing Rutgers yesterday gave me hope for their future. Now I am realistic – I do not see Rutgers beating the likes of Penn State and Ohio State when they play head to head this season, but I see them winning and staying close in a lot more games than they would have been if Greg Schiano was not the head coach at Rutgers again.How does this relate to the Jets? First off, Rutgers football fans have suffered since the departure of Greg Schiano to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers almost ten years ago. A team that was competitive, had recruits that made it into the NFL (see the McCourty twins, Clark Harris, among others) and won a majority of the bowl games Rutgers was in under Schiano floundered under his eventual replacements, Kyle Flood and Chris Ash. Both of the coaches, especially Ash, lacked any emotion on the sidelines (in many respects Chris Ash and Adam Gase both have that confused look on the sidelines), did not rev up the fanbase and were not able to recruit good high school players to play at Rutgers.
When Chris Ash was fired last season, in the middle of the season, fans, including myself, were hoping for Schiano to return as coach. At first Rutgers AD Pat Hobbs, who does not seem to get the pulse of his department like the Johnson brothers do not get what the Jets fans are looking for in potential players and coaches, interviewed Schiano and then a deal fell through. Fans were outraged and many of them, including myself, signed a petition for Schiano to get hired again. Eventually the cries of the fans won over and Schiano got a ten year deal to coach Rutgers again. Schiano has recruited great coaches including Fran Wood from Temple and his former wide receiver and NFL player Tiquan Underwood to coach the wide receivers. These moves show having a top head coach will also bring in good players and coaches who will want to coach for you.
This is what the Jets ownership needs to do – listen to the fans. Bring in a big name and exciting head coach that will rejuvenate the fan base, and throw money at him to come to this team. Most importantly, they need to draft Trevor Lawrence with the number one pick. No trading picks, no selecting a defensive player with the first pick. Draft a franchise altering player like Lawrence and show Sam Darnold the door, while signing a successful veteran quarterback for Lawrence to learn under.
Selecting Lawrence, like Rutgers rehiring Greg Schiano, will send the team in a positive direction. It has not been mentioned by many NFL analysts but the Jets head coaching job could bring in one of the top tier head coaching candidates in the offseason knowing that the team would have Trevor Lawrence to build around.Watching Rutgers show improvement yesterday on both sides of the ball yesterday and an animated coach on the sidelines, made me think that Rutgers would beat the Jets in a game, as they seemed like a much better team on the field yesterday than what we have seen with the Jets all season. It also made me have some hope that the Jets make a franchise altering decision in the offseason by drafting Trevor Lawrence, which could in the long run make the Jets a team that will stand a chance on any given Sunday.