by Tyson Rauch
The Super Bowl hoopla is over and the Pro Bowl is unwatchable, so it is finally time to figure out the direction the Jets are heading. The overhaul of the coaching staff is basically complete, and it appears that the Jets have two choices on how to handle their roster.
Option #1: Keep the current foundation of the team, which includes Mawae, Fabini, Kendall, Ellis and John Abraham and bring in a veteran quarterback as an insurance policy for Chad Pennington. I understand the salary cap is an issue. Therefore, John Abraham must be signed to a cap friendly long-term deal and Pennington, Ellis and Mawae need to restructure. The draft plan should attempt to get offensive line help as well as some depth for defensive tackle.
The goal of this option is to provide the new coaching staff a chance to win while learning on the job at the same time. The lack of major personnel changes allows for stability and continuity, which could ease the transition for Mangini. In addition, this could allow for one last playoff run for the likes of Curtis Martin and Kevin Mawae as the Jets window of opportunity closes.
The problem with this option is that this theory is merely putting a band-aid on the Jets woes. The Jets prolong the inevitable as the Jets need to begin overhauling the roster, albeit one year later. In addition, there could be challenges with the veteran players conforming to new rules and guidelines, which could leave lasting impressions on the younger members of the team.
Option #2: Evaluate the current roster and begin to cut ties with players that are just not able to play up to their contracts, conform to new rules or take on new roles. Identify the players that will help turn the franchise around over the next three years, not just next year. Basically, the thought is just blow it all up and rebuild from the ground up. Some players that could fall into this area include Fabini, Barton, Kendall, Ellis, Pennington and Mawae. Again, the cap restraints are a problem but in some situations a big hit now could be positive later. In addition, John Abraham should be traded for draft picks.
The goal of this option is to allow Mangini to truly build his own team and philosophies and remove any lingering problems. The young core of the team is deemed the future and the draft is focused on that including taking a QB on day one.
The problem with this option is that the Jets could endure a couple of tough losing season before it gets turned around. The word patience would be key here as it would get a lot worse before it got any better. And, at the end of the day, what if this is all blown up and Mangini was not the right guy to build it back up? This could set the franchise back another five years.
What would I do? At this point, I am leaning toward option #1. The bottom line is that a good defense and running game gives you a chance to win in this league. I think there is enough overall talent on the team to be competitive. If the Jets could upgrade the offensive line through the draft (with Ferguson at #4) and find a competent QB, there is a chance another playoff run could be made. I think the Jets need to re-sign John Abraham, as an elite, speedy pass rusher is hard to find. He is one of the only game breakers on defense, and I think the new coaching staff can make him even better which makes the defense better. It then comes down to coaching. Can Mangini take an average team and make it better? Is he able to walk in, command instant respect and motivate this team to exceed expectations? I would rather find that out within the next two years and than wait five years.
Which path do you choose?