Since purchasing the Jets in 2000, Woody Johnson has treated Gang Green like a day trader. As such it has led to the highs and lows one would experience on the stock market. Now, he seems to have come around to buying long.
Johnson told ESPN New York last week,
“Really, the way I want to be judged, hopefully from the fans’ standpoint, is just watch how we improve during the year. Look at each individual on the team, and if they’re getting better, that’s a mark of progress. That’s what we’re looking for.”
This marks a change from the past 10 years. After the first two drafts of Eric Mangini and Mike Tannenbaum, the Jets began a consistent championship push. While it was exciting, the benefit of hindsight has shown that the team was borrowing from tomorrow to win for today. It eventually caught up with the team over the past five years. It wasn’t sustainable when combined with the poor drafting over that same span.
It seems Johnson has come around to the idea – perhaps out of necessity – that the best teams, the ones that win consistently, are built through the draft. That those teams don’t spend money on top-tier (and subsequently high priced) free agents, but spend money on home grown talent and free agents that fill a specific role.
Now it seems Johnson has embraced the long game. He stated that the measure of success for the team will be to “judge it by the process.” So far in 2017, the Jets should get an A+. ‘You’re rolling your eyes… ‘an A+?‘ Yes, they made difficult moves cutting faces of the franchise. They are ready to give their two young quarterbacks an opportunity to win the starting job and develop them. Finally, they appear to have hit a home run in the draft – so far in terms of value. They didn’t reach on any players, in fact they stayed patient and true to their draft board. By most big boards and analysts, the Jets landed at least five round 3 or higher players and four that were in the top 100 prospects.
Now the focus shifts from the front office to the coaching staff. The vibe from most of the Jets community is that they added some top coaches to the position groups. Kevin Greene is the headliner for his Hall of Fame status and prior work with the Packers outside linebackers. Two other coaches that haven’t received as much attention, but should are La’Roi Glover and Dennard Wilson. Glover is a man of extreme integrity and accountability. Wilson oversaw the Rams secondary that allowed 6.7 & 7.2 yards per pass attempt in ’15 & ’16 respectively. On offense, John Morton and Jeremy Bates are respected for their intellect to their duties. Right or wrong, they will be move heavily judged on the development of Christian Hackenberg or Bryce Petty than the other 10 players on offense.
The Jets will be a better team than last year. It sounds strange, but they got rid of overpaid, underperforming veterans. The team chemistry and cohesiveness should be stronger. The selfishness and lack of unity won’t plague the team at the first sign of trouble. The culture of the Jets is changing, from the ground up. If a player doesn’t buy in, it won’t be hard to see them sent packing.
Again, the Jets haven’t started their rebuild this season – this is year three – this is just the first season they are comfortable moving forward mostly with young players. If the Jets can cut down on the turnovers from last year and increase their takeaways, 2015 won’t seem like an aberration. They are closer to a turnaround than many would believe – especially if they find a quarterback.
In Part 2: Why Braylon Edwards criticism is misguided and not relevant.
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