Turns out that New York Jets fans aren't the only ones brimming with optimism about their team's offseason, which included some big-time free agent signings and a tremendous haul in the NFL Draft. Legendary NFL executive Charley Casserly, the man who spearheaded the search committee for the team's vacant general manager and head coach positions earlier this year, is impressed with how the team has been reshaped.
It was Casserly, a former general manager and league executive who now is a beloved analyst on the NFL Network, who along with former Green Bay Packers general manager Ron Wolf, who were charged by Jets ownership to help the team following the firing of general manager John Idzik and head coach Rex Ryan. The search resulted in owner Woody Johnson bringing on board Mike Maccagnan as general manager and head coach Todd Bowles to turn around a team that has missed the playoffs for four straight seasons.
Casserly's boys did pretty well.
With plenty of room under the salary cap, the Jets went out and spent a pretty penny, bringing in Pro Bowl cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie (both former Jets) as well as trading for an elite wide receiver in Brandon Marshall. All of which says nothing about a draft that was widely hailed as fruitful.
And Casserly is impressed with how his hires have handled their first five months on the job.
“I think it was one of the best in the league. When you look at the team, clearly the secondary was a major problem. I think they did as much as they could do to improve that secondary in the offseason. When you look around, I think they got better at every position group and I think that's hard to do in an offseason,” Casserly told Metro. “Clearly, quarterback is still the biggest issue but there wasn't a solution to the quarterback. So they brought in [Ryan] Fitzpatrick who improves them. They brought in [Bryce] Petty whose a guy you can work with in the future; you'll see how he develops in a year. They improved the running back position, bringing in [Stevan] Ridley, bringing in [Zac] Stacy from the Rams. The offensive line, brought in [James] Carpenter and [Jarvis] Harrison – that improves them there.
“Wide receiver, [Brandon] Marshall and [Devin] Smith, that's a big upgrade there getting those two guys. Leonard Williams is the best player in the draft along the defensive line. The nose tackle, he'll be an interesting guy. They improved the depth at the linebacker position. [Lorenzo] Maudlin gives them a guy to develop outside.
“I think they got better in every area.”
Casserly, of course, is familiar with both of these key pieces of the Jets future. He was the general manager of the Washington Redskins when Bowles made the team as an undrafted rookie free agent and became a starter. And Maccagnan was a scout on that same team before joining Casserly when he was named the first general manager of the Houston Texans, taking roles in their scouting department.
There isn't any particular pride that Casserly feels for either Bowles or Maccagnan based off of what, on paper, is an absolutely positive offseason.
“I don't look at it that way. I have confidence in both of them, I'm proud of what they've done, I'm proud of what they'll do in the future and I'm proud of what they've done with their careers,” Casserly said. “I was involved with them certainly in different points in their career and I'm not surprised that they've done well; I've expected them to do well. I'm proud of what they've done and I think they're going to do well there.”