Jets have reached fork in road at quarterback position
By Ryan Patti
The New York Jets have some tough decisions to make this offseason when it comes to the most important position on the team.
The New York Jets are unfortunately back to square one at the quarterback position. After a successful 2015 campaign from Ryan Fitzpatrick, he came plummeting down to earth with one of the worst seasons in his 12-year career. He completed 56.6 percent of his passes for 2,710 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions. He additionally fumbled nine times, although only one was lost. Owner Woody Johnson and general manager Mike Maccagnan were played like a fiddle.
It’s safe to say the Harvard graduate wasn’t worth one penny of the $12M contract he was granted in July. Regardless of whether it Johnson or Maccagnan’s idea to cave in, it was a dreadful move.
He had a phenomenal year and it would’ve been tough to simply walk away, but you can’t invest $12M in a player you’re unsure of. The Week 17 game in Buffalo was the red flag that every franchise other than New York noticed.
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Gang Green is now at a fork in the road. With cap casualties and trade pieces throughout the roster, they have a brutal decision to make at quarterback. We all know Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith are as good as gone. ‘Fitz’ is a disaster and Smith tore his ACL in October. Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg will most likely return, however, neither have shown they can become long-term options.
So what happens now? Well, the front office has to decide whether they want to be patient or go with another quick fix. Even though the patient route can bring riots to East Rutherford, it may not be the end of the world if it’s done correctly. For all we know, Maccagnan’s main goal could now be finding a franchise quarterback.
Petty and Hackenberg are obviously the in-house candidates. Both are ways away as we’ve seen, although a new offensive coordinator can quickly change things. Petty has showcased his arm strength and poise in the pocket while Hackenberg we can’t even judge yet. One of the two could develop as the team uses 2017 to find their identity. Fans may not like it, but this outcome is well in the realm of possibility.
The Jets can take the patient route in more than one way. The draft is where a majority of teams find their franchise quarterback. Mitch Trubisky, DeShone Kizer, and Deshaun Watson highlight the top of this year’s class. Each requires patience like Petty and Hackenberg do, however, their ceilings are much higher. They’re all capable of making plays with their legs. With the sixth overall selection, Maccagnan has the ability to pull the trigger on any of these guys. He hasn’t shied away from it either .
As stated previously, the other route New York could take is the quick fix. We saw this method in 2015, but it was because Maccagnan had no other choice. Former general manager John Idzik left him in a “spend or get punished by the league” situation. Free agency is the first place Gang Green can look if they head in this direction. The problem is that they won’t find anyone special. Kirk Cousins isn’t walking through the door and everyone else on the market isn’t serviceable enough to start. The Jets may have to hope the Buffalo Bills part ways with Tyrod Taylor who’s owed $27.5M in March.
Trading for a quarterback is their best bet if they’re looking for a veteran to plug in. If we’re talking about quick fixes, there should be plenty on the block this offseason. Tony Romo lost his starting gig, Jay Cutler you’d have to think is done in Chicago and A.J. McCarron is a name people have begun chattering about. Don’t forget about the Sam Bradford/Teddy Bridgewater scenario either. The Vikings may look to recoup a draft pick or two, so one of them could be moved.
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We’ll finally get a full understanding of how Maccagnan wants to build this team. This miniature win-now roster will be dismantled as the Idzik aftermath is officially over. Players will be released, cap room will be gained and new faces will come in. The big question is which quarterback road will New York take? We’ll find out soon enough.