TOJ’s Afternoon Tea: Be Patient Jet Nation

It takes experience to get a job and a job to get experience.

For the New York Jets, it takes patience to have success, and it takes success to change the narrative. A narrative of losing has plagued this franchise for years, with the last semblance of substantial success this franchise had coming over a decade ago. For years the team’s fanbase has been told to “be patient” or “trust the process” and “hope for the best.” We’ve been sold bags of damaged goods and overpaid mightily in times of desperation on what always turns out to be fools gold.

So, why be patient? Patience has cost us season after season, and now patience has caused us to miss out on a superstar receiver in Tyreek Hill. A player so talented that it feels like the cherry on top of so many other misses by this team. The reality is that not many players want to be New York Jets right now. Why should they? The team has had two winning seasons in the last 11 years with players like Le’Veon Bell and Jamal Adams have made the public narrative even stronger that the team is full of a losing culture that lacks “dawgs.” Why should we fault Hill for making a decision we all would make if faced with equal contracts from the Dolphins and the Jets? If you polled 10 people, likely at least nine of those polled would choose no income taxes and the warm weather over living in New Jersey. Not to mention the history of incompetency being a significant undertone. The Jets missed out on Hill for the same reason they’ve missed on so many free agents and stars in the past: because they haven’t changed the narrative.

Now, the Jets have Joe Douglas: cutting his teeth in winning franchises, Douglas was an executive lauded league-wide upon his hire as a can’t miss move that should elevate the Jets. They have a highly respected head coach in Robert Saleh, and an offensive coordinator in Mike LaFleur from a coaching tree that makes you think it’s only a matter of time before he’s out the doors to be a head coach upon the smallest glimpse of life from the offense. Gone are the days of crazy eyes Adam Gase and Mike Maccaganan dropping bag after bag on free agents to try to save his behind from the hot seat. The Jets have competency: now all they need from this fanbase is patience.

Joe Douglas has swung and missed more times than today. Mekhi Becton has the jury still out, Denzel Mims looks to be a large miss, and Ashtyn Davis has struggled with being consistent and has not looked like the center fielder of the defense the team needed. The first draft class for Douglas as a whole looks largely underwhelming. Some have also said his fixation on sticking to his price points has cost the team numerous stars. With that said though, the good has begun to outweigh the bad.

Zach Wilson has far from even begun to prove himself, but he looked to get more comfortable as the season neared a close and there is at least hope he can continue that momentum with continuity this offseason and going into next season. Elijah Moore, Michael Carter III and Alijah-Verah Tucker look like home runs on the offensive side of the ball. Defensively, the team added Michael Carter Jr., Brandin Echols and Bryce Hall to the secondary in the past two drafts. Douglas has found some diamonds amidst the rough and there is hope within his past few classes as we move towards this year’s class.

In free agency, the lack of big moves has annoyed some, but the Jets have swung big the past two years and look poised to field more star power heading into next season then in recent years. EDGE Carl Lawson returns after inking a monster deal last offseason and then spending the season on the sidelines with injury. WR Corey Davis had his moments, but with a potential other receiver addition, likely in the draft, the Jets hope it will take the pressure off and allow him to regain some of his success that he had in his last two seasons in Tennessee. This off-season, they added OL Laken Tomlinson, S Jordan Whitehead, CB DJ Reed, TE CJ Uzomah and TE Tyler Conklin, while bringing back WR Braxton Berrios. These are all players who figure to be starters or key contributors next season.

Douglas has been adamant on bringing guys in who want to be New York Jets and not just guys looking to cash in and check out upon their arrival. He has looked for high character and high upside additions. His draft strategy of targeting captains has gotten borderline predictable, but it’s the right mentality. Douglas is trying to find leaders of men. He is trying to find players that have been foreign to this franchise for over a decade: potential winners.

On days like today it stinks. It stinks to watch other teams make big moves and watch the Jets come so close, but fall short. Sure, they did all they could to land Hill, but past failures are still hard to erase and now the team will face him twice a year rather than having him in their own locker room. Until the team changes the culture, and truly stays steadfast in being patient, this will continue to happen.

Signing stop gaps like Lev Bell and Trumaine Johnson has worked poorly for this franchise. Trading for high profile players hasn’t worked out either: just look back to Tim Tebow ten years ago. The team has, for so long, tried to put Flex Seal on the holes causing the ship to sink. Instead, Joe Douglas let the ship sink. Now, he’s trying to rebuild it, and all he needs is time.

Sure, he could make me look like an idiot in no time, and that’s a risk I take. It’s a harsh reality of the situation, that results get rewarded and failure gets the pink slip. Right now, Douglas needs some results, but until that happens, the team and this fanbase needs to be patient and wait for the plan to come to fruition. If it fails once it reaches that point, then we are back at square one. For a franchise that has been full of ineptitude though, why not change it up and be patient, see if the rebuild can work.

I know it’s tiring, I know I’m the bad guy for saying this, but a lack of patience got this team here. A lack of sitting back and instead rushing to try to expedite the process got the team here. To change the narrative around this franchise won’t be easy, it feels damn near impossible at points, but patience is key.