The sun is shining and the birds are chirping in a new era of Jets football. The evil empire missed the playoffs, and the failed experiment that was Adam Gase has been purged from Atlantic Health Training Facility.
Joe Douglas brought in 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh to be the next head coach of the New York Jets. A coach of the players, a man who needs someone to pull him back onto the sideline when he gets too excited, brings with him a talented staff to bring a new culture to the New York Jets. Joe Douglas did a marvelous job acquiring plenty of draft capital, and Adam Gase did a great job securing the number two overall pick in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. Additionally, the New York Jets have the second most amount of cap space to work with, while the vast majority of the league plunges into cap limbo. Or cap hell if you’re the New Orleans Saints.
NFL headlines are all focused on disgruntled Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. After having his number 1 receiver in DeAndre Hopkins traded to the Cardinals for peanuts, followed by a promise to have a say in the hiring of the teams next general manager, only for that to be voided- Watson wants out. The New York Jets are Vegas’ opening leader to trade for the three-time Pro Bowler (2/1 odds).
Regardless of what position you take: Keep Sam, draft a QB at #2, or Trade for Watson, every Jets fan can agree Sam Darnold has not played up to his 3rd overall value. He’s 13-25 all time, with a 45/39 TD/INT ratio. Not great. In Sam’s defense, he was put into one of the worst quarterback situations, and the Jets did little to nothing to protect and arm him. However, 3 years into the league, Darnold continues to regress. The forefront of this is 9 passing touchdowns in 12 games. His yards also significantly decreased. His decision making hasn’t gotten any better, and his 11 interceptions, as well as lowest QB rating all career attest to that. Whether or not you believe Sam was ruined by Adam Gase’s gross incompetency or not- these are not sustainable, winning numbers.
There’s been talk of Darnold’s future not being clear or clean cut. Some days it seems like he’s out the door, and other days it seems like the brass wants to give him one last shot in Mike LaFluer’s (Jets new offensive coordinator) new offense. But with the new staff, maybe it’s truly time to turn over a new leaf.
What’s Being Bought
If the Jets do trade for Deshaun Watson, it’s important to understand the value of what the team is getting. Watson is 25; three days older than Patrick Mahomes. However, Watson has already proved himself in the league. With 3 Pro Bowls under his belt, Watson has locked himself in as, at worst, a top-10 quarterback in the NFL. Just this past season alone, after losing his star wide receiver, Watson led the league in total passing yards with 4,823. Couple that with a TD/INT ratio of 33/7and a QB rating of 112.4 behind only Aaron Rodgers. Pro Football Focus gave him a 92.5 rating.
Even without his greatest offensive weapons, Watson set career highs in yards and touchdowns thrown with a wide receiving core consisting of Brandin Cooks (who had the most receptions), Will Fuller, Jordan Akins, and Randall Cobb.
Look above and see that Watson is a certified stud. He’s been successful with a barely serviceable team. This past season was difficult for Houston when the defense allows near 30 points per game. That’s also not sustainable in the NFL.
The biggest argument for Watson versus any other option, aside his production, is that no matter who gets the snaps as the signal caller for the Jets: Darnold, Fields, Wilson, or Watson: they all need to be acclimated to a new playbook. So why not do so with the best player on the market? If the quarterback room needs to start over, why not do it with the best option available?
Getting Watson in the green and white and black won’t be cheap. At least, not since Bill O’Brian isn’t the head coach/general manager anymore. But the Jets have the picks and the cap room to make it work. The rumor mill began circulating early in January that the Jets wanted to make a blockbuster trade.
Here’s one way to frame the trade. In the next two years, the Jets are blessed with four first round picks courtesy of the Seattle Seahawks trading for a disgruntled edge defender who calls himself a safety.
Call it the Jets trading Jamal Adams for Deshaun Watson- which any Jets fan would’ve taken in a heart-beat 7 months ago. Oh, and that second overall pick would have likely gone to a quarterback anyways. The Texans get both of the Jets picks from Seattle, and the second overall to get their signal caller their new staff can mold into their own image. Maybe a compensatory third or fourth rounder too just for value’s sake. Sam Darnold gets traded to Pittsburgh or New Orleans or San Francisco. Who cares?
The Jets keep a first rounder next year, and get a second or third rounder for the USC turnover machine. The team is back to a normal draft schedule. We’ve seen what Joe Douglas can do with those day two draft picks.
The Jets Future
Deshaun Watson is going to be expensive. But the Jets have the capital to make it work, and walk away with an All-Pro caliber quarterback and a competent coaching staff ready to turn 2-14 around very quickly. If you need any more reason to pull the trigger: Do you want to see Watson in a Dolphins uniform and deal with that for the next 5-10 years? I sure wouldn’t want to handle that. It’s costly, but a certified slam dunk. With a little free agency magic, the Jets could enter 2021 with an offensive line solidified by Joe Thuney, and a wide receiving core finished out with the extremely underrated talent in Allen Robinson. As for the draft, last year was a smashing success. I’m sure Douglas can pull it off again.
It’s a stretch, but the Jets are the favorites to make it happen. If it does fall through, this franchise gets turned around over night.