A Pragmatist’s Guide to Watching the 2017 Jets Season
Tom Shane wrote this post in our forums and I felt it was worth sharing.
So, we’re rapidly approaching that point where Jets beat reporters are going to need to drum up interest in what will be a bad, boring team so I thought I’d save us a bunch of time by pointing out the more productive storylines for the upcoming season:
1. Will the team function differently when Woody is shipped to England?
If there’s one common denominator in the Jets dysfunction over the past 15 years, it has been the presence of idiot-manboy Woody Johnson. Though not as flagrantly meddling as some league owners have been, the repetition of self-sabotage from regime to regime can only lead one to believe that Woody’s leadership (or lack thereof) is the thread that binds each failed attempt at a reset.
If and when Woody is confirmed as our bumbling ambassador to England, it will be interesting to see if and how it changes the organizational dynamics and forward presentation of the New York Jets franchise. Similar to the way the Yankees laid the foundation for success when George Steinbrenner was exiled from Major League Baseball for two years (allowing the adults in the organization to clean up his mess), there’s a similar chance for Mike Maccagnan to right the ship, or further sink it. Which brings us to…
2. Does a Maccagnan v Bowles civil war break out over the QB position?
With Woody potentially out of the way, it will be interesting to watch which one of Bowles or Maccagnan elevates himself to take control of the team. Ask yourself, who runs the Jets right now? Who’s in charge? The fact that it’s impossible to say who actually calls the shots with the Jets franchise is indicative of the greater institutional problem inherent to Woody Johnson’s ownership–a frayed and convoluted chain of command wherein nobody and everybody is responsible for everything and nothing.
It’s this vacuum that helped career weasels like Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum remain employed far longer than their resumes should have allowed, but it’s also repeatedly made it difficult to assess accountability when the team inevitably nosedives, which is why the same mistakes in hiring keep happening. You get Idzik because Woody never knew what Tannenbaum did incorrectly, and you get Maccagnan because Woody never knew what it was that Idzik screwed up. Similarly, you get Bowles, and Rex, and Mangini, and the next coach, because the roles of coach and GM overlap far too much with the Jets, so it’s never clear who to blame for what. Is the GM under performing because the coach sucks and can’t develop talent? Or are the coach’s hands tied because the GM forced Sanchez and/or Hackenberg on them?
As it relates to the current group, what happens if and when Todd Bowles insists on starting Josh McCown for weeks on end in the same way that he started Ryan Fitzpatrick for weeks on end? And when that results in yet another lost year, does Maccagnan feel pressure to intervene? It’s hard to imagine both men keeping their jobs if (as most predict) we end up slogging through another sub-6-win campaign. It’s in Maccagnan’s interest to have Hackenberg and the young players on the roster play significant snaps and show improvement, even in a bad year. But it’s in Bowles’ sole interest to win at all costs, try to get to eight wins, and save some face. Bowles would be wise to note that the last four guys to have his job are all out of the league right now. He, and Maccagnan, need to start thinking about how much they want to avoid selling insurance for a living.
3. Are Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Luke Falk, etc. any good?
Every year it’s presumed the next QB crop will be good and every year the Jets get a high draft pick, the QB crop is always trash. Well, here we are again, so it’s time to set the DVR to record some PAC-12 and Mountain West games. That is, unless you believe that the Jets have their QB of the future on their roster right now, which likely means that a “pragmatist’s guide” isn’t really for you.
4. What assets can you sell to a new coach in 2018?
In the event that Bowles is fired, what marketable pieces can we sell to a new coaching prospect next year? Right now, you’d lead with a top seven pick(!), lots of cap space(!), and that’s it. Unless Ardarius Stewart wildly over performs, or Hackenberg rises from the dead, it’s not a particularly appealing job to walk into, especially when you consider how poorly run the team has been for decades. As to the cap space, the good news is that we’ll have around $50 million dollars in space. The bad news is that 20 other teams will have over $25 mil in cap space. Currently, the Jets roster lacks a quarterback, pass rushers, cornerbacks, a left tackle, and viable threats at WR. Unfortunately, those five positions are coincidentally the five most expensive positions in all of football, so even having $50 mil at your disposal is relatively meaningless. It’ll buy you a shot at Kirk Cousins and Trumaine Johnson, with an outside shot at Nate Solder (if you’re willing to go into debt). So how can the Jets franchise market itself to a viable head coach? Complete control, a safety, and Ardarius Stewart?
5. Darron Lee, Ardarius Stewart, Quincy Enunwa, Jamal Adams, and Leonard Williams vs. Mo Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Calvin Pryor, and Eric Decker for the soul of the team
The locker room was a burning sh*t-vessel where numerous rats could be seen jumping off the starboard side long before the season was over, and Maccagnan wisely went out of his way to change course this season by dumping poisonous veterans and importing <puke> “character guys” who seem to want to play football for a living. As foolish as it was for Bowles to hand the locker room over to guys like Brandon Marshall, Decker, and Revis, it remains to be seen how much doing so has compromised his standing among the players moving forward. As we’ve seen repeatedly in sports, it’s extremely difficult for a coach to survive once he’s lost a locker room, which Bowles clearly did last year. Rehabilitating his career will require a bit of amnesia amongst some players from last year, and a whole lot of unnatural influence coming from the rookies they just brought in. This element will become pretty evident once camp starts. The beat guys are going to look to goad guys like Sheldon and Wilkerson over their crap play last year, and Decker will be pummeled with Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall questions. Sheldon has already shown he’s dumb enough to take the bait. What remains to be seen is how guys like Adams, Lee, and Williams respond to the more established young veterans getting smacked around publicly in what will be a confrontational environment. For most of these players, it’ll be the first time in their lives that the fans and the media will be openly mocking them, and it’s going to be a culture shock. It’s hard to imagine Bowles guiding them through (and above) it, and it’s equally difficult to imagine Mo or Sheldon imparting any words of team-first wisdom that they’ll find helpful. The question is, is this next generation of player mentally tough enough to endure what they’re about to face, or does Manish get the best of them?
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