Ah the Jets. Can’t even lose properly to give themselves the much coveted No.1 pick in the draft. This is an organisation that seems to go out of its way to fail. Every decision they seem to make tends to be the wrong one. They’re what the Browns were for such a long time. Maybe 2021 is when they turn that corner and start the recovery that their fans so desperately want. So where to start? Adam Gase has thankfully left the building and GM Joe Douglas has it in his hands to pick the successor.
Make a decision on Sam Darnold
This has to be what Douglas does first as it effects the decision of which coach to bring in. Whoever does take over from Gase, they need to be on board with the decision whether it’s to give Darnold another chance or replace him, presumably with Justin Fields or Zach Wilson via the second pick of the draft.
If it were me, I’d keep him. I still believe he has the talent to be a franchise quarterback and can lead the organisation. It would also give Douglas more options come draft time. Stick at the number two spot and they could draft Penei Sewell, giving the Jets bookend tackles for the next ten years. Or they can trade out to a quarterback needy team and gather even more draft capital over the next couple of years with which to build the roster. Trading Darnold would also result in some capital but realisitically I don’t think you’d get a first round pick for him – you might for a team desperate to trade up though.
Hire a coach
Obvious really isn’t it? Per above, the new head coach needs to be 100% on board with Douglas’ decision to either keep Darnold or bring in a new QB. There can’t be any doubt about it and it should be something that’s confirmed before whoever signs on. But who should sign on?
Too often, GMs want to find a coach who is ‘a leader of men’. I don’t really think that that term narrows it down much but I interpret it as someone who can instill culture within the organisation that players will take on and follow. Jim Harbaugh did this when he took over the 49ers in 2011, the change yielding immediate results taking the once forlorn franchise into consectuive playoffs appearances. It’s this sort of change that the Jets need and maybe looking at San Francisco is a good step and consider defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. Saleh’s defensive units over the past two years have been exemplorary and have kept the 49ers in game. The passion he displays on the sidelines fires up his players and drives each and every man to put in above average effort levels.
Current Iowa coach Matt Campbell is also on the Jets radar. The Jets had the chance to hire Matt Rhule before they appointed Gase however disagreements over who would make staff positions eliminated that chance. Rhule has gone on to reorganise the Panthers much like the Jets would have needed. Campbell has received high praise as Iowa coach and has built an organisation that is consistently sending talent to the NFL.
Supply the quarterback with the tools to succeed.
Breshard Perriman, Jameson Crowder, Denzel Mimms, Chris Herndon and Ty Johnson. Those were the five skill position plays on the Jets team to end the year. If you’re Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers and have a history of elivating the players around you, then ok. But Sam Darnold isn’t. He might be one day but even if you choose to replace him the Jets have to improve the talent around their quarterback.
2021 is another deep wide reciever class so the stock can be replenished from there (another reason to try and get more draft capital and keep Darnold). But I would also be looking to bring in a veteran receiver to lead the corps. With the Jets recent history Douglas will have to give him the real sale but throwing some of the cap space at Allen Robinson would go a long way to improving this team.
Main image credit: “Sam Darnold” by All-Pro Reels is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/