While the Jets have found new ways to lose games consistently on Sunday, the focus on poor coaching should be intertwined with the lack of consistent talent on both sides of the field, a direct result from substandard drafting during GM Mike Maccagnan’s tenure.
2018 was supposed to be a learning curve season, filled with grown and development from their young QB Sam Darnold, and a hope for improvement from multiple playmakers on both sides of the ball. Now the Jets find themselves questioning why the same players who are considered cornerstone pieces to the franchise consistently don’t show up on Sunday.
Although Head Coach Todd Bowles and Offensive Coordinator Jeremy Bates have seen the brunt of the media blame them for the Jets lack of success, maybe more attention should be given to Maccagnan.
In the four draft classes under Maccagnan’s time, the Jets have drafted 28 players, 16 of them still playing for the team. Some of the players, including late round picks such as Jarvis Harrison, Deon Simon and Dylan Donahue are not even in the league anymore.
Front to back it has not been pretty. In the second round they have taken Devin Smith and Christian Hackenberg, who both remain unsigned and out of the league. While Marcus Maye looks like solid pick, his inability to stay healthy has become troublesome in just his second season.
Although GM’s are not asked to hit on every draft pick, the expectation is that finding late round talent at opportune spots is a keen ability that a GM must have. Players drafted that are not even in the league anymore speak to how you evaluate talent. The 2013 Seattle Seahawks championship run was built on young core talent that was mainly draft pieces from later rounds. Players like K.J Wright and Kam Chancellor were 4th and 5th round selections that proved to be pivotal players in that run. The Jets don’t have any of those guys as of right now.
Dating back to 2015, some might make the case that Jamal Adams has been the only sure-fire pick so far. Coming out of college Leonard Williams was considered a “steal” at 6th overall but has slowly started to show the same signs that Mohammed Wilkerson did. Williams has been a non-factor in his fourth season, totaling just three sacks and 14 QB hits through 12 games. It is time for Jet fans to stop referring to him as a franchise player, but rather someone we expect a lot more from on a consistent basis.
Moving forward to next offseason the Jets will have over $100 million in cap space to spend on free agents. The next question remains, “Is Maccagnan the guy to use that?” and the answer is no.
Maccagnan’s offseason acquisitions have done little to nothing this season, so why would that change. He inked cornerback Trumaine Johnson to a hefty five-year, $72 million deal that has been underwhelming and not worth it to this point. Other additions such as Isaiah Crowell and Spencer Long have been widely inconsistent week in and week out. Long’s performance has been so abysmal at times that he has now been shifted over from center to guard.
The cap space is a pretty sight if you’re a Jet fan, especially since they will be without their second-round pick next season. But its only a pretty sight if it is used the right way. Having a 21-year-old franchise quarterback on a team friendly deal is the perfect opportunity to put your chips in the middle and construct a team meant for winning now.
I will give Maccagnan the benefit of the doubt with some of the moves he’s made, including trading up for Darnold, but that does not excuse him from the misses. Winning championships starts with gathering talent at all levels, and building a culture within the locker-room fit for winning. Right now, the Jets have neither from an organizational and coaching standpoint.