On the heels of one of the most embarrassing seasons in franchise history there are many questions that were left unanswered. The fanbase saw the light at the end of an extremely dark tunnel when at the very last moment the carpet was yanked from under them. The Jets polished off their horrible season by winning back to back games in late December and watched one of the best quarterback prospects EVER slip through their fingertips. Now the Jets enter the offseason with the #2 pick in their back pocket, without a coach, and facing a huge decision to make about who will be under center in 2021. If the Jets want even the smallest sliver of hope in 2021 they must complete these four important facets of their franchise.
This is a common theme for most tanking teams, but the Jets might have it worse than anyone else. Adam Gase has been one of the worst coaching hires of the decade and sits at 9-22 as the Jets coach and 32-47 in his career. 9-22 through two seasons may not seem as terrible but considering the “offensive guru” has ranked 31st and 32nd overall scoring offenses in each of those years points a lot of blame on himself. The relationship between Gase and the players has failed, which leaves the Jets with no other options than to move on and find a new head coach.
I am in the camp that believes that Joe Douglas is a bit overrated and despise when teams don’t clean house by moving on from both the Coach and GM. Douglas has been bailed out time and time again due to his ability to acquire draft picks, but when you break down the deals, they are…for the most part…astonishingly horrendous. Douglas has done a good job drafting but has gotten away with several head scratching moves such as signing Le’Veon Bell, trading Leonard Williams and passing on Robby Anderson. However, Douglas has laid out a respectable game plan that has some potential to pan out in a few years and will get a few more years to showcase the rebuild he is currently constructing.
Now that it is becoming evident that Douglas will likely be the GM the team sticks with, it is time for him to get his quarterback. Darnold was the last-ditch effort from Mike Maccagnan, and although he has had a few bright spots in his first three years, he has had far too many issues. 3 years is usually the time period young quarterbacks will be given to showcase their abilities, and when they continuously keep their teams picking in the top 15picks it dimishes the odds that the team will continue to pass on younger QBs. Darnold has faced adversity, but it is clear that he is not the guy for the franchise. Darnold can win you some games, but there is slim to no chance that he gives you more upside than Justin Fields or Zach Wilson. Darnold has a 13-24 record as the Jets starter and has thrown just 44 TDs in 37 games, while averaging an interception a game and has had his QBR regress each season. Douglas’s game plan has been to trade guys he didn’t draft for picks and Darnold could likely get him additional 3rd rounder.
In 2020 the Jets took Offensive Tackle Mehki Becton with the 11th overall pick, and despite missing on the top rookie lineman Tristan Wirfs just several picks later, Becton has been pretty good as a rookie. He has struggled a bit with a shoulder injury, but certainly seems to be worth the price the Jets paid. Becton was a hit, but he is the only serviceable lineman they have. The Jets have a couple of options that could work here. The first would be to take a QB with the 2nd overall pick and focus on lineman in the 2nd or 3rd rounds. This could work because the Jets really need guard help and could get more value in a starting quality guard in the later rounds such as Creed Humphrey (Oklahoma), Trey Smith (Tennessee) or Deonte Brown (Alabama). The second option is that the Jets could use the second overall pick on Penei Sewell, the Oregon standout who is one of the best offensive line prospects ever. This would certainly solidify the offensive line for years and give the team hope with their QB of the future. The third option would be for the Jets to trade out of the pick to acquire multiple picks allowing for them to fill the QB and OL holes. The third option could turn out to be the most helpful as this relatively strong QB class could allow for the Jets to get high value for the 2nd overall pick. Regardless of which option the Jets chose to pursue, they will need to heavily invest as their starting lineman Elfein, McGovern, Van Roten and Fant all grade out as 4 of the worst starting lineman in the NFL.
The bright spot for the Jets is their salary cap, as they are scheduled to have a large amount of cap space heading into 2021. However, they have several veteran role players who are not producing but are scheduled to be making big paydays next season. Defensive lineman Henry Anderson, Center Connor McGovern, Left Tackle George Fant and Wide Receiver Breshad Perriman are all veterans who have underperformed this season and should be re-evaluated. They have an easy out for both Anderson and Fant but are likely stuck with McGovern. Perriman’s contract expires this offseason and he likely has not proven close to enough to be resigned for anywhere near his 2020 deal. Despite the massive amount of cap space, the team should move on from these vets and shoot for a culture change within the organization and bring in several top tier veterans who can beef up their locker room and depth. A couple of players the Jets could target would be Raven’s OLB Matt Judon, Washington Guard Brandon Scherff and Carolina Offensive Tackle Taylor Moton. There are also several great wide receivers that could be available to bring in such as Kenny Golladay, Chris Godwin and Allen Robinson, which would immediately help out whichever young QB they decide to grow with.
The Jets have been pathetic this season, but not all hope should be lost. This team is set up to massively improve with the amount of draft capital and cap space they currently have, not to mention LB C.J. Mosely will likely return next season after opting out. The offense has been pitiful, but there is certainly hope they can turn that around with the 2nd overall pick. The defense is weak, but has shown some bright spots with Marcus Maye, Leonard Williams and Folorunso Fatukasi. Offensive rookies Denzel Mims and Mekhi Becton have shown potential and consistent improvement and the young running backs Ty Johnson and Lamichael Perine should combine to become a consistent committee. The Jets may have just finished an embarrassing season but should have a lot of hope in 2021 after they fix several holes including their leadership, quarterback and offensive line.