The losses are beginning to pile up and the season is quickly slipping away. After three consecutive defeats containing blown leads, the New York Jets are breaking hearts like they’ve been doing since 1970. It’s in their DNA. But, there is a bright side to every story. The team’s young players are showing poise and promise, particularly wide receiver Robby Anderson, running back Elijah McGuire and rookie safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye. With that said, if you thought you’d see Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg start a game for the Jets at some point this season, you were sadly mistaken.
You could forget about a full on youth movement. Todd Bowles wants none of that.
The Jets are in a state of flux, close enough to dream about a nothing-short-of-a-miraculous postseason run but far enough to see one of the top draft seeds. A scary fact was released this week: the Jets have an equal chance of reaching the playoffs and landing No. 1 overall pick, 0.1% chance for each. That, friends, is called Football Purgatory.
After New York dropped their latest contest to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, 25-20, and fell to a 3-5 record, many questioned if a point will come this season in which the Jets’ head coach has seen enough of his veteran signal caller, Josh McCown, and turn to one of the young quarterbacks.
“I looked at all of my young quarterbacks in the summer. Josh is my quarterback,” Bowles refuted.
But, let’s take a step back for one second. It was a political answer from Bowles. No head coach is going to say: ‘Yes, we’re going to replace our current quarterback with someone else by season’s end.’ If Bowles said that, it would be wrong. Not only would it not be fair to McCown, who has done an admirable job under center, but it could create a riff in the locker room – something the Jets have shockingly avoided after losing five of the first eight games.
We can all but assume the moment will come this season when the playoffs are nothing but a pipe dream. In fact, that moment could be soon, depending on the results of the Jets-Bills Thursday night clash. Regardless, the Jets would be silly to not at least give Petty or Hackenberg one kick at the can to potentially be the franchise’s savior. Are they answer? Likely not, especially after that brutal vote of confidence from the coach. Bowles saw Petty and Hackenberg this summer. You saw them in the preseason. Did they do anything that warrants a vote of confidence from the head coach? Hackenberg struggled to move the ball and Petty tore apart third and fourth-string players who are currently jobless.
Now, if Bowles was actually being serious, then the Jets have a major issue. They’ve been stuck in the same quarterback situation for several decades and have made little to no improvement in any one season. It’s been: take a shot with a rookie quarterback, watch him fail, sign a bridge quarterback, win six to seven games, miss the playoffs, do it all over again. Occasionally, an outlier season occurs with a Band-Aid roster of veterans who click at the right time (see 2015, New York Jets). It is usually followed by a monstrosity of a season the following year, proving the minor success was a fluke flash in the pan. Rinse and repeat: The Story of the New York Jets.
What was once a season of surprise and hope is now a campaign trending down. The pro-tank crowd is making themselves heard once again. But, plenty has changed since the Jets handed away another game to their opponent last Sunday, including the draft order. And, recent events certainly favor the pro-tank argument. Since the San Francisco 49ers traded for Patriots’ quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, you can scratch the 49ers off a list of teams in need of a quarterback for 2018. Garoppolo is their man now.
If the season ended today, the 2018 NFL Draft order would be:
- Cleveland Browns (0-8)
- San Francisco 49ers (0-8)
- New York Giants (1-6)
- Indianapolis Colts (2-6)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5)
- New York Jets (3-5)
Of the teams listed, the 49ers, Colts and Buccaneers all have quarterbacks they view as the future. Garoppolo, Andrew Luck and Jameis Winston have the talent. The Browns will certainly try to draft one of the “Big Three” quarterbacks as well as the Giants, who likely need an heir to Eli Manning’s throne. This allows the Jets to be serious contenders for either Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen or Josh Allen. One of those three can fall into the Jets’ lap.
Judging from what the coach said after Sunday’s loss, the Jets need to take a chance on one of these quarterbacks coming out of the draft in 2018. His lack of confidence in Petty and Hackenberg means the front office will be licking their wounds from those draft blunders. However, to be sure it is a draft blunder and not a slow start to a promising career, Petty and Hackenberg need to start games down the stretch of 2017. There are no ifs, ands, or buts. This needs to happen. The organization needs to have a clear idea heading into the offseason. If they finish 2017 out of the playoffs and without a clear answer as to who Petty and Hackenberg are, then the Jets will be making a blunder of themselves.
If by Wk. 13, New York is well below .500, it’ll be time for Petty and Hackenberg. By then, the Jets could very well be 3-9 with four games left. Give Petty two games and Hackenberg two games. See what they can do. The earlier Bowles commits fully to the youth movement, the better off the Jets will be heading into the offseason.
Joe Barone is a staff writer for JetsInsider.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@28JoeBarone) or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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