Looking back at my Jets season preview I wrote back in September, I couldn’t have been more wrong about the potential of this team. A short four months ago, a very naive James saw the Jets as a fringe playoff team with their franchise quarterback solidified. Currently, the Jets hold the #2 pick in the upcoming draft, have a question mark at the quarterback position, and are without a head coach. With nowhere to go but up, the future of this franchise relies on the vision of GM Joe Douglas and the support of owner Christopher Johnson.
But how is this achieved? One benefit of not having playoff expectations for 17 weeks is that you have plenty of time to imagine ways the culture of your favorite team can change inside and out.
Hire a coach:
The first, and arguably the most important step to the Jets’ rebuild, is to hire a head coach. The Jets, in theory, should be a desirable destination for a head coach. Young talent, the #2 overall pick in the draft (plus the Seahawks first round picks for this year and next yer), and the third most cap space available this offseason is a recipe for an aspiring play caller. However, I don’t have a personally preference as to who the Jets and Joe Douglas decide to hire. After having been desensitized to bad coaching by Adam Gase for the past two years, I simply want someone who *isn’t* him. The obvious and most popular choice would be Eric Bieniemy, but the league-wide demand for him will make him a tough coach to land. Other OC’s out there, such as Arthur Smith of Tennessee or Brian Daboll, have emerged as potential targets, but the coach hiring process is something I’ll need to watch more of as it unfolds.
Draft Zach Wilson:
Unlike the head coaching hire, I do have a strong preference as to who the Jets draft at #2, and it’s the quarterback they call “Mormon Mahomes”. A virtual nobody in August, Zach Wilson went on to set Utah on fire over the course of the college football season, putting up a 74% completion percentage, 43 total TDs, and just 3 interceptions. As a talented runner who has the ability to make throws from outside the pocket, Wilson has drawn comparisons to the #1 overall pick of 2019 Kyler Murray, but Wilson’s 6’3” frame offers the traditional QB build that Murray cannot.
The most talked about drawback for drafting Zach Wilson is the lack of competition he played against in college. While a fair point, the Jets have made the mistake in the past of overlooking a QB who can throw the ball out of the stadium. Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Justin Herbert were all passed on by the Jets for one reason or another, but I tell you this; if a QB has an arm like those guys, draft him, and the rest will come later.
Sign a WR:
It is not secret that the Jets are short on playmakers, and with a plethora of high end wide receivers set to hit free agency in 2021, New York needs to make a move. Allen Robinson, Kenny Golladay, Chris Godwin, and Juju Smith-Schuster will all be on the market, and each one can be a proven #1 guy for whoever is taking snaps under center for New York next year.
So there it is. The short list for turning around the New York Jets in 2021. As a fan, I’ve gotten used to putting blind faith into new and unproven general managers, but if the 2020 draft is indicative of what Joe Douglas has to offer, he should shine in what will be his toughest and busiest offseason so far.