The Right Way (Denver Broncos) and The Wrong Way (New York Jets)
Three years ago, Mike Shanahan and the rebuilding Broncos bet the farm by taking a franchise QB prospect in the first round and starting him right out of the gate. Lumps and all, decides that it’s best to get his young QB the reps, better to validate him quickly, best to let him gel with the starters from the git-go instead of holding a clipboard.
Three years ago, Eric Mangini and the rebuilding Jets sheepishly pass on the franchise QB prospect in the first round and stick with the incumbent who can’t pop a balloon with a needle. Takes a development project as a maybe QB of the distant future. Assigns him a clipboard. Does not validate him, does not play him, makes him ride the pine.
Flash forward to today, and Shanahan’s QB is looking more and more like a franchise player. In his third season, he’s experienced the NFL top to bottom and shows poise and leadership abilities. He’s blossoming into a great player at the same time the rest of his young teammates are coming into their own. A team in sync, ready for the 5 year run. Set at the most important position on the field, building the players and the team around him.
Flash forward to today, and Mangini still lacks a QB. The balloon thrower was cut too late, the 2nd round project has failed due to mismanagment, and he is left with an oft-retired Hall of Famer for the next 4 months in a desperate bid to save his job. The youngsters around this rental QB aren’t in sync, and when he’s gone before the snow stops falling, they’ll have to start all over again next year. Not set at the most important position on the field, not building properly, not ready for a run of any sort.
Football is a team game. Needs great coaching, a gelled offense, and a great QB. Needs a smart gameplan in the front office, needs belief in a young QB, needs grooming and patience. The Broncos took their lumps these past few seasons and are again ready to make a jump back atop their division. The Jets continue to think short-term and are engaged in a desperate attempt to make a single run in one year on the backs of high priced, aged, and questionably motivated free agents. Can you think of another team built this way that had a consistent string of playoff appearances and an eventual Super Bowl? Can you recall another NFL team that spent and constructed like George Steinbrenner circa 1976 and was successful?
The right way and the wrong way. Look no further.