This post was written by suffering Jets fan Bryan Hernandez
Long story short? I'm OK with it.
Long story short? I'm OK with it.
Long story long? Well, here we go:
Let's start by facing some harsh realities about my beloved Green & White. The Jets aren't a team of loveable losers. They are one of the insanely huge New York market's red-headed step children (along with the Mets and Islanders) that only actual New Yorkers seem to support. They have been a mediocre team for most of their existence, and their traditions have been built on one lucky "guarantee" that happened 44 years ago. While Broadway Joe's Superbowl III win is one of the best stories in NFL history, the problem lies in the fact that the Jets seemed to have adopted Namath's swagger as part of their team identity and persona without having the talent to back it up.
Rex Ryan is a very polarizing coach; he's one of those "love him or hate him" guys; there seems to be little middle ground with him, and ever since his hiring, the Jets have gone the same way. The problem is that, outside of New York, most people hate them. As a hard-core jets fan, I feel, more often than not, that the Jets are seen as villains... ne-er-do-wells whose failures on the field bring joy to the sports-watching masses (Ass-fumble anyone?). I can understand why, though. The amount of trash talk that comes out of the Jets locker room annoys even me, especially from a team that hasn't won anything. This "bad guy" persona along with the media circus the front office seems to revel in is apparently the way the team combats the legitimate success of the Jets two biggest rivals (both in terms of demographic and division): The (scum sucking, arrogant, cheating) Patriots and The New York Football Giants (who I personally have nothing against, plus my buddy Steve Weatherford has won two rings with them... good for you Steve!).
In a world where the Pats and Giants have combined for five of the last twelve Super Bowl wins (including two Superbowls against each other), the Jets struggle to stay relevant without wins. So the front office's solution is apparently to create hype by doing things like signing Tim Tebow. The front office under former GM Mike Tannenbaum was a joke, and a big reason that I am ultimately fine with the Revis trade. Signing Tebow was a joke and a waste that did nothing but distract the coaching staff while they shoe-horned Tebow into play, but so too was pouring millions into Mark Sanchez in an not-so-subtle effort to show him "support." Alas, however, that is the American way, after all: Solve your problems by throwing money at it. The Sanchez money created a problem when Revis, New York's only legitimate super-star, demanded a bigger contract.
The Revis issue is a long time coming, however. The Tannenbaum-led front office bottled the situation back in 2010 when Revis held out. New York had the opportunity then to lock up Revis long term, but failed to do so. If that long-term deal had gotten done, who knows what might have happened... The Jets might not have tied up so much money in Sanchez, leaving the door open for a solid replacement this year (like the cost-prohibitive Alex Smith or Matt Flynn... either of whom I would take), and Revis might have emerged as a leader in the locker room, something the quarreling Jets desperately need now. Money is a huge problem for the Jets this off season, which is why Tennebaum was ultimately sacked by owner Woods Johnson. The mismanagement of the 2010 Revis hold out, the Sanchez contract extension, and tons of old money poured on aging vets like Calvin Pace and Bart Scott, ultimately led New York to be too cash strapped to hang on to Pro-Bowl Safety LaRon Landry,* solid defensive lineman Mike DeVito, solid safety Yeremiah Bell, and tight end Dustin Keller, all lost to free agency. They are on the verge of losing Brandon Moore, former Illini and a solid, stating-caliber lineman who really does not deserve to be the remembered as the other half of the ass-fumble. Keller, Sanchez's favorite and most reliable target, is probably the most unacceptable casualty of this off season, even more so than Revis.
Keeping a solid target for Sanchez to boost his confidence should have been a larger priority for New York than retaining Revis, especially with the re-emergence of Antonio Cromartie who, in Revis' ACL-tear related absence, proved himself to be a solid number one corner. Combined with Kyle Wilson, the Jets secondary is still above average without Revis Island. This is important because a strong secondary is critical for Ryan's brand of blitz-heavy defense to work. Revis made Ryan's exotic blitz schemes work, but Cro proved that he could do the same. There is no denying, however, that Ryan needs some new pass-rushers too. DeVito is gone, and New York's linebacking corps is getting old. Sophomore DE Quinton Copples could be poised for a breakout, but the Jets desperately need a new outside linebacker to compliment Ryan's schemes. As a result of the Revis trade, the Jets now own the 9th and 13th pick in one of the deeper drafts we've seen. This allows the Jets to address this need as well as perhaps pick out a new toy for Sanchez... a new wide-out might (perhaps Cordarelle Patterson out of Tennesee or West Virginia's Tavon Austin) might be a luxury the Jets can afford with those picks.
The bottom line is that the Jets have a lot of holes to fill and not a lot of cash to do it. New GM John Idzik has done a good job targeting low cost players with a potential upside to fill in these gaps, like guard Willie Colon and running back Mike Goodson. What is for certain, however, is that he absolutely can NOT screw up this draft... say by doing something incredibly stupid like drafting Geno Smith in an attempt to strike gold with the next Russel Wilson. I personally don't like Smith and I don't think he will have much of an impact at the next level. What I would like to see is a draft closer to New York's 2006 draft, when two first round picks produced solid, unconditional type players D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Pro-Bowl center Nick Mangold. I want to see the Jets just go ahead and embrace the rebuilding and land some players to build around. A new outside, pass-rushing linebacker like Barkevious Mingo would be a great pick. He could ease himself into the position under the tutelage of veteran Calvin Pace and be a solid producer for years to come.
All I know that wasting it on another quarterback experiment would be mind-boggling... save it for next year's draft... when the Jets will likely own their own decent pick, the Buc's 3rd round pick, and several compensatory picks... and Johnny Football might be available.
At the end of day, if New York wants to climb out of the Pats and Giant's enormous shadows, it has to draft well this year. It is the only thing that can salvage the situation the front office mismanagement has caused.
Lastly, a few final thoughts on Revis. I won't miss him all that much. The team needed a lot more work to become a Superbowl contender than Revis provided, especially for that price on an untested, surgically repaired knee. I'm sure he will recover fine, but I can not justify (and neither could the Jets front office) paying him as if he had just come off a Pro-Bowl season.
If the front office doesn't completely blow the draft, New York will have the opportunity to become a much more stable, solid football team. Revis was all about the money from day one... so it's not like New York is losing a key locker room leader or the heart of the team. Some (like the owner of this blog) might argue against the intangibles, and that Revis should be paid top dollar if it is believed that he is the best corner in the game. Bottom line, however, is that we can't say if he will be the same Revis Island next year or not. I will argue for the intangibles, though. Revis is not a likable guy, despite being a tremendous corner. He doesn't inspire teammates, and even his own "Revis Island" persona advertises him as an individual. The Jets are going nowhere fast if they keep bickering like the last few seasons. If Revis was the guy stopping that, I'd have a harder time with his departure. Instead of being a team guy, one dedicated to making his teammates better, and perhaps taking a "Brady" pay cut, Revis remained completely selfish, trashed New York and followed the cash.
I am hoping that Revis's departure is the catalyst that will finally allow the New York Jets to shed the trash-talking, center-of-attention, Revis-like persona that has been plaguing them... and if it isn't, then Rex will likely follow.
* Who I personally REALLY liked and was sad to see go. He was a hard hitter, great run stopper, and a hard worker. He really proved the doubters wrong by coming back from injury so strongly and betting on himself by taking the one year deal with New York. Boy did that bet pay off. He signed a $24 mil, 4 year deal as the Colts new safety. I wish him the best of luck. Interestingly, the Jets replaced LaRon with his older brother Dawan. I am NOT putting it past the Jets to issue Dawan uniform number 30, LaRon's number from last season... just to save money on left-over shirts.
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