Wins don’t matter this year, nor do losses. Only one thing matters for the New York Jets this year, a team that collectively is pegged to have a difficult season.
April 26, 2018.
That’s the date when the Jets, if all goes according to plan, will be making one of the top selections of the 2018 NFL draft. And if they are gung-ho with this much-needed rebuild, then Jets fans have to embrace the losses this year. They need to accept that losing will help them get better.
They need to embrace the fact that they are going to stink. That means taking their losses and, for the long-term sake of the team, hoping that they drop to the bottom of the AFC.
The talent losses from this year alone, ranging from likely Ring of Honor candidates such as Nick Mangold, David Harris and Darrelle Revis is staggering, enough to extinguish even the most ardent fantasy of a return to the playoffs for this Jets team. Then blend in the hemorrhage of talent this offseason including Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Ryan Fitzpatrick and even Ryan Clady along with very few additions of note in free agency and it is clear to see that the Jets are in the midst of an overhaul.
It isn’t a tank job, but it might as well be one. The cause might be a rebuild but the effect is nothing short of tanking this season.
The Jets aren’t going to be very good, at least that is the general consensus. It is easy to see why that mindset persists with a roster of talent that is sub par on paper and unproven on the field. The Jets don’t appear to have an answer at quarterback, lack little at wide receiver and are overhauling a defense that offers little outside the pass rush and middle linebacker spots.
That’s fine, however, as this roster overhaul is long overdue. For too long, the Jets have rebuilt in stutters and spurts. Before the hiring of general manager Mike Maccagnan, there was John Idzik, a value shopper who might as well been the NFL’s answer to Costco. He loved a good deal and emphasized the draft to the point that he was almost reluctant to spend on big names.
Traditionally, the Jets have been feast or famine: Either rely too much on the draft and never be "for now" or go exclusively with free agents and fail to prepare for long-term success. This offseason of difficult moves and cuts shows that the Jets know they have some serious work to do here.
Now the Jets say they’ve found religion, that they are willing to build through the NFL draft. It is something that every GM coming into this building has uttered but few outside of Mike Tannenbaum a decade ago. In order to build through the draft, the Jets will have to stink to epic proportions in order to get a top pick.
In doing so, they and their fans will take their lumps this upcoming year, the only win likely on their schedule is if they make it to Week 17 without the stadium collapsing in what will be a vortex of a season.
Can the Jets do this thing right? The sample size of over five decades of Jets history suggests that they can screw up even the simplest of tasks. Somehow they will find a way to fail at being bad even with a roster that isn’t very good. It’s the law of being a Jets fan.
No matter the outcome, the Jets have to be committed to this blended approach of building through the draft and supplementing via free agency. They’ve got some young talent, they just need to make sure that they are committed to a rebuild no matter how painful it may be.
Next offseason, their war chest heading into free agency will be in the ballpark of $90 million. They also will be in their fourth offseason, theoretically of course, with Maccagnan at the helm and his first two draft classes will be coming of age. He should have a top pick as well, meaning that a year like what 2017 is going be will likely to lead to something promising.
That makes this year worthwhile, oh beleaguered Jets fan.
There will be more jeers than cheers this year from the faithful, who certainly know by now that this looming NFL season won’t be pretty. In the end, they have to hope it will be worth it to throw away their PSLs this season for a brighter future.
It is a long road, a tough road to take. Tanking is never easy for the tried and true but finally, after a decade of a half-hearted pursuit of sustainable success, the Jets seem to have a plan in place to right the ship. As to if it works out, well, let’s wait and see.
Even as the losses invariably mount, it isn’t doom or gloom. There is hope, there is promise as at long last something is on the horizon that might give Jets fans a reason to cheer in a season where they likely would rather tailgate than watching their team.
And it might just be a team worth watching in 2018.