The New York Jets have accepted being mediocre for far too long as for 2018, they need to evolve and no longer accept it.
It goes without saying that the New York Jets have been nothing short of mediocre since their last playoff run in 2010. The team has all but accepted their middling state in the NFL despite “competing” year in and year out. However, 2018 needs to be different. The Jets will ultimately have no other choice.
Having finished at .500 or below in six of the last seven seasons, the Jets are basically dancing in quick sand. The team has been unable to escape underwhelming results despite a few breakout performances amongst their roster.
2017 was no different. Another 5-11 season left the Jets in the dumps, but management claimed there were significant improvements and development within a team sought to be “rebuilding.” And while there is some truth beneath that cover up, the Jets can no longer hide.
Sure, the Jets remained competitive and kept games close all year long. But at the end of the day, that should not be the goal. The Jets need to manipulate that mindset to avoid extending the league’s third-worst playoff drought.
While it all comes down to performance on the field, the truth of the matter is that is starts up top. Jets’ management will need to play their cards right this season, and they have no excuse not to. With nearly $100 million in potential cap space, the Jets should be not only active but aggressive in free agency. This means targeting franchise-caliber players and promising them success.
Unfortunately, Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan doesn’t have a great history when it comes down to this. He’s slipped up and made ill-advised decisions with similar cap space over the course of two years. But the Jets will be the Jets and trust will be granted once more in 2018.
A great hand will be dealt to Maccagnan. With an absurd amount of cap space and a historically talented free agent class, the Jets can’t afford to have him miss a step.
Acting owner Christopher Johnson needs to take this into account too. Once the Jets’ 2017 season reached its conclusion, he was quick to state his happiness with both Maccagnan and Todd Bowles. Johnson, however, should be entering 2018 with a slashed tolerance. It would be wrong for him to be content with yet another mediocre season, seeing as how the Jets have the stars aligned for them heading into the New Year.
Moving down the latter is coach Bowles, whose seat may have temporarily cooled down since his extension. However, after back-to-back disappointing seasons, Bowles needs 2018 to regain his stature as a competent NFL coach.
This will come down in a variety of ways. Firstly, as the coach of a young and developing team, Bowles will need to keep his grasp on the locker room. He was able to do that to a degree in 2017. However, with the possibility of the roster looking slightly different in 2018, Bowles will be tested.
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Player development should also remain a major point of interest, but not the main one. While the team may have a rookie quarterback at the helm, as well as other young additions, Bowles cannot forget about the importance of his veterans. The focus should be more divided in 2018 or the Jets could slip to another below average year.
I say this because many of the Jets key players may not stick around after 2018. Players such as Steve McLendon, Josh Martin, Buster Skrine, James Carpenter and Bilal Powell are all slated to be free agents in 2019. If the Jets fail to show a steep climb of improvement in 2018, not only may these important veterans leave, but others may not want to come.
All of this said, expectations for the Jets should be higher than usual in 2018. Super Bowl or bust may not be the notion, but the Jets cannot afford another down year. Doing so could result in yet another “rebuild,” except longer, and more painstaking. It will not only be a defining year for the players, coaches, and management, but for the franchise as a whole.