The New York Jets, who have fallen into a quick 0-1 hole with their loss to Buffalo, will move on to play a tougher opponent this week against the Oakland Raiders.
While the spread remains in the double-digits, the Oakland Raiders, who have finally dug themselves out of the bottom of the league’s barrel with recent success, actually have a lot in common with the team they are up against this week. Yes, there is something similar between the Raiders and New York Jets.
The teams share similarities with young quarterbacks in the system, veteran running backs leading the charge, and rising talent in the passing game.
So what separates the teams so distantly in the rankings?
There are arguably plenty of factors, but if the Jets hope to follow in the Raiders’ footsteps, they should base their future on these three initiatives:
Chain of command
The Raiders weren’t always the dominant team they are today. Only a few years ago, they were in the Jets position, being walked all over and laughed at when it came to competition. That changed when they began formulating a plan of action from the inside out.
Back in 2011, Mark Davis inherited ownership of the Raiders from his father, allowing for a change in the face of the franchise. Davis has since implemented his theory of leaving all football operations up to the people below him, thus causing less confusion.
And below him is general manager Reggie McKenzie, who is widely known for assembling the new and rising talent that is the Raiders. He then hands this talent off to head coach Jack Del Rio, who has been orchestrating the show since his arrival in 2015.
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So what does this have to do with the Jets, you may ask? Well, the Jets tend to follow a slightly different chain of command, with owner Woody Johnson maybe being too involved in team operations.
This likely makes the team outlook a bit more murky with general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles being somewhat limited in their respective roles.
Now not to say that the Jets haven’t seen success under Johnson, because they have, but the Raiders clearly formulated their strategy to make it easier for the players to do what they do: play football.
In the Jets clubhouse, we see things changing all the time. Players coming in and out of New York before our eyes, nothing ever seems too permanent. And while theories surrounding the fall of the Jets speaks to the “rebuild,” they need to prove that this is their actual plan.
The Raiders did just that and found success over time. Now it’s time the Jets take notice and formulate a solid chain of command from the inside out.
Get the young guys going
The one thing that seems to be holding the Jets back is the “tanking” element. While no one actually wants their team to lose each and every week, the Jets need to do that.
No, they shouldn’t purposely go and do lose, but let’s just say their main focus shouldn’t be getting the win, at least not this year.
They’re trying to avoid the full out tank by starting veteran Josh McCown because he gives them the “best chance to win.” But McCown’s not the future. He’s not going to be the one winning the Jets games in three or four years.
The Jets know that, as well as the fans, but by doing it they are avoiding something crucial: development. Bryce Petty needs to be seeing some starts, like now. Whether he’s the future of this franchise or not is still unknown, and it will continue to be until we see more out of him.
McCown should be mentoring Petty, and Petty the same to Hackenberg. Similar to a structured chain of command, the Jets should formulate a plan of attack for the most important position in football.
Now, while the Raiders situation was a bit different, it was also quite similar in some ways. Derek Carr and the Raiders finished 3-13 in his 2014 rookie season, ouch. The Jets are in a similar position to achieve that record this year, except they’re doing it with a veteran quarterback.
The Jets could likely earn the same record with Petty at the helm, except it would help him develop his game like it did with Carr, who had veteran Matt McGloin mentoring him through the struggles of regular season games.
The Jets may be hurting themselves by leaving the young quarterbacks on the bench. It likely adds a year or two on to the rebuilding phase, unfortunately.
Plug in true offensive talent
As mentioned earlier, the Jets have utilized a variety of different players in their mix and match systems over the years, adding veterans on short contracts just for a mere glimpse at success.
What hasn’t been done (except for the short stint of Brandon Marshall) is add a true weapon. Yes, the recent acquisition of Jermaine Kearse is a good start, but they need someone they know they can rely on, and for a while at that.
The Jets will need to examine the waiver wire closely, make smart trades and draft aggressively to continue making strides towards success. This means drafting an offensive workhorse early in the draft, something that hasn’t been done since 2001 when they drafted wide receiver Santana Moss with their first round pick.
The Jets have been building up a defense for quite some time, but the offense has lacked. They’ve targeted exhausted veterans to try and make up for it, but it really hasn’t gotten them far in quite some time.
To follow in the footsteps of the Raiders, they will need to make some big moves: