The Purge: Gang Green Redemption Year
Not too long ago general manager Mike Maccagnan was faced with the difficult task of rebuilding a very undesirable 4-12 Jets team. With an attempt to jolt the team into the playoffs, Maccagnan went out and acquired hot commodities in Eric Decker, Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Brandon Marshall respectively, amassing well over $60M+ dollars spent in free agency or via trade. The team experiencing a surprisingly pleasurable 10-6 season the very first year of the Macc/Bowles era. Just missing the playoffs in a “win or go home” scenario to the Buffalo Bills, it left plenty to be desired in the minds of Jets fans and the brass. Not having the urge to retool or rebuild much at all, the Jets made very minimal additions for the 2016 season and took the gamble of trying to build upon a shocking 10-6 season at the helm of Harvard quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Through a surplus of season long injuries to key players such as: Eric Decker, Brandon Marshall, Mo Wilkerson and others, dreadful performances from their 11-year veteran QB, and very questionable on field coaching, the Jets GM finally decided to hit the reset button on the entire team. He purged the roster from top to bottom injecting a resurgence of youth into the roster. Discarding of many underwhelming veterans and displeasing young talents from years past, the Jets were officially in rebuild mode. “Building through the draft” and the “youth movement” were the new mantra of the squad and GM Maccagnan delivered; drafting new defensive cogs in safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye along with young offensive talents in Chad Hansen, Ardarius Stewart and Elijah McGuire from Louisana-Lafeyette. Moreover, the Jets also added veteran presences in QB Josh McCown and WR Jermaine Kearse in the offseason to offer guidance and proper pro etiquette to a team ranked in the top eight as one of the youngest rosters in the entire league.
This new-look 2017 Jets team showed grit, immense heart, noticeable improvements in speed, and at times limitless potential with the amount of young athletes they sported confidently against some of the NFL’s top tier rosters. Projected by most to be the worst team in the NFL by far and even leaving some to believe they would inevitably go 0-16 (Only five teams have gone winless in an entire season since 1944) forcing team owner Woody Johnson to look elsewhere for his answers at HC and GM. But contrary to many beliefs, the Jets looked like a rejuvenated unit, although finishing with the same 5-11 record as 2016. The team looked faster, more hungrier, and played above the expectations of many as they went on to beat three playoff participants and of their 11-losses only five of them being decided by more than one score. With a talent-deficient roster, coach Bowles and GM Maccagnan best bet was to show promise and they did just that granting them both with a two-year contract extension. Fast forward to the 2018 offseason and the Jets have a slew of cap to spend in free agency, tenders to place on important depth players, and most importantly a QB to get in the upcoming NFL draft that would solidify keeping the Jets front office and coaching staff together for the foreseeable future. Mike Maccagnan came away with some very lucrative pieces for the rebuild, signing highly coveted pro-bowl CB Trumaine Johnson, a bruising aggressive style RB in Isaiah Crowell, a serviceable upgrade at center in Spencer Long, and a tackling machine in MLB Avery Williamson.
A little over a month before the draft Maccagnan traded three second round picks to trade up from the sixth overall pick to the third overall pick from the Indianapolis Colts for a greater chance of getting one of the highly touted rookie quarterbacks. Insert rookie QB Sam Darnold into a film room with veteran QB Josh McCown, a young talented veteran like Teddy Bridgewater and you suddenly have a respectable group at the games most important position. Whomever the starting QB is will have a more than a serviceable amount of weapons to choose from, the Jets currently have four WRs whom have amassed at least 800+ yards in one season before, no other team has that. Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, Terrelle Pryor, and Jermaine Kearse may not be the hottest commodities but they’ve proven to be solid options as “under the radar” kind of receivers. General manager Maccagnan also re-signed plenty of the defensive depth players who showed value on special teams or in limited roles, cornerback Mo Claiborne who excelled last year as a #1 CB and potentially drafted Bowles’ future replacement slot DB in Buster Skrine for cornerback Parry Nickerson from Tulane University. At his discretion, Mike Maccagnan hopes these moves can be the staple for a team needing stability at various skill positions. If these acquisitions bode well the Jets can finally say they’ve built a contender the way many Jets fans would’ve definitely signed up for from the beginning. “Build through the draft” dismantling the roster of aging vets, and acquiring young talent via free agency to fill the biggest holes.