Personally, I've never rooted for one of my favorite teams to tank. Even when 0-16 was on the table, and the Jets randomly upset the (playoff-bound) Los Angeles Rams, I was ecstatic to see those players competing and getting a win rather than folding for Trevor Lawrence.
However, there truly is a first time for everything because I am finally warming up to the idea of losing out. From my viewpoint, there is absolutely nothing left to play for — even if the Jets run the table and finish the season 9-8, it’s very possible (dare I say likely) that they won’t be in contention for a playoff spot.
That means that the only tangible result of winning games is the worsening of their 2024 first-round draft pick. I specify ‘tangible’ result because I’m sure there are a lot of intangible benefits of winning that I was very proud to recite in 2020 when I watched the Jets win a second improbable game late in the season.
Culture is always a big one — we don’t want our beloved Jets to fall right back into the losing culture that has plagued them for all of these decades, and it truly seemed like the ‘Same Old Jets’ mantra was dead when the very young New York Jets were 6-3 last season.
With this 4-8 start, almost every key player on the Jets has a career record with an astronomically low winning percentage, and that can damage people’s mindsets individually and fracture a team’s cohesion.
But the belief here is that Aaron Rodgers will still play for at least two years, and if that is the case, the team has to do a better job of both building around him and making sure someone can right the ship if he goes down again.
There is no falling apart — everyone loves Rodgers and is so excited to play with him. He is truly one of the best to ever play this game, and he has already helped a few players improve dramatically this past offseason, so even with a 4-13 finish, I am certain that Rodgers would seek the most valuable teammates and destroy any sense of disdain in their hearts to keep the team together.
The NY Jets should already be looking ahead fo the 2024 NFL Draft
How could the team repay him for this incredible presence? How about keeping him healthy? Joe Alt, out of Notre Dame, has been named first-team All-American by five different news outlets and is on pace to become the first unanimous All-American offensive lineman from Notre Dame since Quenton Nelson, the guard who was selected sixth overall when the Indianapolis Colts traded back (so that the Jets could draft Sam Darnold third).
For reference, Nelson was first-team All-Pro in each of his first three seasons and has been voted to the Pro Bowl every year he’s been in the NFL. From day one, he’s been considered one of the best in the league at his position and was the catalyst for transforming one of the league’s worst units into one of the league’s most formidable.
If Joe Alt is on that path, the Jets need to do everything in their power to ensure he falls to them in a very quarterback-heavy class. While Joe Douglas is no stranger to trading up in the first round (he’s done it in two of the four drafts he’s had), obviously, the easiest way to ensure the highest chance of landing Alt is by having the highest draft pick possible.
There are already a few mock drafts out there that predict the Jets will select him with the sixth overall pick, but the hope is that the Jets can move up and ensure that this is the case.
A player like Alt could be the stalwart they’ve needed since D’Brickashaw Ferguson retired and catalyze the turnaround that his fellow Irishman Nelson did in Indy five short years ago.
Of course, the Jets may use this pick on a high-caliber quarterback like Drake Maye, but if they are truly going ‘all-in’ on Rodgers, they must maximize the value of the picks.
No more drafting depth pieces in the first round (looking at you, Will McDonald). It’s time to draft Day 1 contributors and foundational pieces that will help in the Rodgers Era and beyond — Joe Alt may be the best possible living, breathing option to make that happen.