A Plea to Jets Fans: Don’t Hit the Panic Button

Stephen Russo on why Jets fans have reason for optimism.

There is no doubt the Jets delivered a gut punch to every fan this past Sunday in Los Angeles. Somehow, some way, Adam Gase managed a win against Sean McVay on the back of 76-year-old Frank Gore and his 24 touches (and his 2.7 yards per rush). The entire Jets fanbase took a collective hit to the groin like we did when Keith Byers fumbled in Denver, or when Drew Coleman let Peyton Manning’s pass go over his fingertips to Pierre Garcon, or when Big Ben hit Antonio Brown on 3rd down to seal the deal, or when Ryan Fitzpatrick almost connected with Kenbrell Thompkins in the 4th quarter in Buffalo, or… did I make my point clear enough?

This one hurt. There is no doubt it did. So rarely do things in our Jets world ever make sense, but this year they did. We could actually stink our way to greatness. We have basked in the never-ending ineptitude of Adam Gase and have actually embraced it because, oddly enough, riding his idiocy was our best chance to secure a key to a promising future and the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck. BUT, Gase found a way to royally screw that up to pull out a meaningless win in December that did nothing, NOTHING, except take the Jets out of the driver’s seat for Trevor Lawrence. Oy vey.

I, like many of you, spent the next few hours in disbelief. In utter despair. How could this happen? However, while the cut is still fresh and it certainly still stings, I am here to say that it is not time to hit the panic button. Sure, Trevor Lawrence could very well be a Jaguar in 2021. And sure, we could end up looking at this like we do Peyton Manning’s return to school, or taking Blair Thomas over Junior Seau, or drafting Ken O’Brien over Dan Marino, or continuing on with Christian Hackenberg and not drafting Mahomes or Watson, or… did I make this point clear enough? But I digress. In my heart of hearts, which will always bleed Jets green, I choose to remain positive, and here’s why:

Adam Gase will no longer coach this football team. On January 3rd or soon after, Adam Gase will be relieved of his duties as HC of the Jets and we can all rejoice. This single worst hire in franchise history and the most toxic person this franchise has seen will no longer be employed by the Jets. He is public enemy #1, rightfully so, and he will be gone. The Jets will start their search for a new Head Coach and begin their path to right the ship. Getting rid of Adam Gase is the most important priority of the offseason. 

It’s the NFL, anything could happen. Had I asked any of you this past Saturday night, would you have put any money that mattered to you on the Jets or Bengals to win? I didn’t think so. Nothing is guaranteed. Teams have off weeks and clunkers against inferior opponents all the time. I’m not saying it will happen, but would anyone be shocked if Mitch Trubisky puts up a stinker in Jacksonville this week? We’re not dead yet!

This is a QB rich draft. Trevor Lawrence aside, this is still a strong QB class. Justin Fields has cooled a bit in recent weeks, but he is still a good prospect that many teams would be happy to grab atop this draft. Zach Wilson is skyrocketing up draft boards (and giving many Jets fans that twinkle back in their eye), and people are all but forgetting about Trey Lance who has all the upside in the world. This is a strong quarterback class, and if the Jets decide to go that route at #2 (if they still pick there), chances are they will get a very good prospect to develop with a lot more opportunity to build around him than they had with Darnold in 2018.

Joe Douglas is still the Jets’ General Manager. Let’s get one thing straight, these aren’t Mike Maccagnan’s Jets. Joe Douglas is well regarded and highly respected around the league. His first draft as Jets’ GM looks very good thus far, and he has shown that he has the makeup and mindset to build a team from the inside out. Now, give him the #2 overall pick, 8 other picks (7 in the first 5 rounds and potentially more with a trade for Darnold), and the 2nd most cap space in the league in 2021? That is a good place to be.

The Jets are still a desirable head coaching destination. Their pool may be slightly limited now if the prospect of drafting Lawrence is out the window, but, for all the aforementioned reasons, why wouldn’t this be a solid destination for a new Head Coach? You would get your pick of quarterback at #2, almost certainly get to build your team and coaching staff your way with the help of Douglas, and you get to follow up a turd as your predecessor. The bar to clear has never been lower. Whoever the next hire is will almost certainly be lauded for simply not being Adam Gase.

Every draft pick, and especially QB’s, are a gamble. How many of you were in the “Anybody but Josh Allen” camp in 2018? I know I was! And I will be the first to admit, I was DEAD WRONG. For every Josh Allen, there are many more examples of guys we thought were “can’t miss” that ended up being mediocre, or players that we thought wouldn’t make it who ended up surprising everyone. What can’t be argued is that the system those players are placed into and the coaching they receive will absolutely have an impact on their career trajectory, and ultimately their success or failure at the next level.

This unexpected win is not the end of the world. Was it a kick to the “you-know-whats” on Sunday? Absolutely. Is it something we can’t handle? Nah. We’ve gone through worse. Trevor Lawrence may be a generational quarterback at the next level. But so could Zach Wilson, or Justin Fields, or Trey Lance.

You. Never. Know.

What I do know is that the most important thing that the Jets can, and have to, do is fire Adam Gase. This next coaching hire is more important than who they draft in April.

So please remain optimistic Jets fans. Cautiously optimistic, but optimistic nonetheless.

It ain’t over yet.