Rex Ryan has been head coach of the New York Jets since Jan. 19, 2009. In the two drafts that followed, the Jets drafted an obscenely low total of seven players.
Think about that: In a two-year period, the Jets drafted exactly half of what other teams drafted on average. This isn't the recipe for a personnel disaster, but it can be a problem for roster depth if you're not finding consistent value. It's hard to say the Jets have.
Of those two drafts, the biggest piece has been Mark Sanchez. He is, depending on what side of the aisle you're on, the player who is either holding the franchise hostage because he hasn't developed or being held hostage by the franchise because of the lack of help in his development.
As you question the state of the 2012 Jets, remember that among two drafts that could have a big impact on the roster, the greatest contributor is Sanchez. And among every pick from 2008-2011, there are exactly zero Pro Bowl seasons. The 2012 draft won't offer one in the short term.
The team has played great defense for the entirety of the Ryan era until injuries and the lack of a pass rush diminished it this season. But New York has never truly found consistent success on offense, through both a lack of growth from Sanchez and a total lack of offensive firepower.
The issue, as the Jets head down the stretch, is identifying whether this is a team that needs to hit reset or one that can fix its problems quickly.
I'll look at what I see as the five biggest questions facing the Jets and whether it's an area where the draft can help.
1. The quarterback
If the Jets want to be clearly better at quarterback in 2013, it will happen in one of two ways. Either Sanchez experiences a leap in performance or a quarterback who isn't currently on the roster beats him out for the position.
The Tim Tebow question really isn't one. Adding him was a mistake. He has been little more than a distraction, a wrinkle in the offense that hasn't amounted to anything. If he were real competition for Sanchez, he would have seen the field by now in situations that matter. The Jets must either trade for help or target what little there is in free agency. Either way, they need Sanchez to experience a true challenge for his job.
Draft or not: Not a draft solution. Unless they want to spend a first-round pick at quarterback, the Jets aren't going to get a player ready to provide an immediate upgrade.
2. The weapons
It's hard to make excuses for Sanchez, who at this point in his career would start to make others look good if he truly had elite potential, but it's clear that he has well-below-average talent surrounding him. Shonn Greene doesn't look like a starter in this league, and excluding Santonio Holmes, it's hard to find a worse group of pass-catchers in the NFL. Stephen Hill will get better -- he was extremely raw entering the league -- but this is an area worthy of a first-round pick. The Jets simply have to know by this time next season whether their quarterback -- whoever he is -- is a keeper, and skill-position upgrades are a part of that.
Draft or not: Absolutely a draft issue. The Jets should consider help at wide receiver as early as Round 1. They must also be ready to add in free agency. At running back, you have to wait and look for value, but they should look to upgrade, period.
3. The pass rush
I expressed surprise when the Jets drafted Quinton Coples over options such as Melvin Ingram in April's draft. I thought this was a team that, given the personnel, needed to take the quickest route to the quarterback.
This season, the Jets are a dismal 28th in sack percentage, and I don't blame Ryan, who can scheme like a wizard. They just lack one-on-one pass-rushers. The defensive line will be a strength soon, with Coples and Muhammad Wilkerson developing next to the vastly underrated Sione Pouha, but this team really needs to add a pass-rusher that offenses actually worry about.
Draft or not: Absolutely a draft question. Not the first need, but probably worth a second-round pick. Free-agency help has to be in the picture as well.
4. The safety
I don't think most see this as a crisis position given the other needs, but safety is a huge need for the Jets. The Jets don't have a safety who should be starting at the position on the roster. With Darrelle Revis back healthy, they'll be fine at cornerback in 2013, but looking for an upgrade at safety should be a priority.
Draft or not: Not with the first pick, but after that, the Jets should consider options in the draft. It certainly has to be an option as they scan the free-agent market.
5. The offensive line
The Jets offensive line has some good players -- very good in a couple of cases -- but the tape shows it hasn't been very good in run blocking this season. It's not across the board, but it's a consistent problem. It's pretty clear that losing Bill Callahan off the coaching staff has had a negative impact on the offensive line play. Again, the Jets could get better at running back, but they need to improve the blocking as well.
Draft or not: I don't think this should be considered an early draft need. This is a unit that can play better, and if there's an upgrade within the roster or as a later pick, it'll be considered.
A sixth question is bad play at linebacker. David Harris could be replaced, and Bart Scott is not a starter in this league. But that is a position that, given other needs, could be addressed through free agency, not the early portion of the draft.
Overall, I just don't think the Jets are that far away from a 10-win season. Despite the lack of draft dividends, they have a coach who can scheme the defense into success and could be far more competitive if they got anything out of the offense. Offense has to be the first priority, starting with real competition at quarterback.
The front office is a question mark, with personnel decisions that have gone the wrong way piling up. This offseason may be the last chance for the current decision-makers to get it right.