The Sugar Bowl could not have worked out better for Joe Douglas and the New York Jets’ future. Suddenly, the No. 2 pick is loaded.
This game called football will humble everybody. It’s a guarantee as sure as Joe Namath‘s pre-Super Bowl 3 proclamation or Bill Belichick’s overwhelming shadiness.
Just when a so-called football expert is riding high—feeling one’s oats thanks to a streak of glamorous predictions—the very same person can come tumbling to Earth in a cold-hearted fashion.
Enter Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the once-untouchable entity discussed in almost a god-like tone. (His long blonde hair didn’t help anybody opposing that idea.) The savior every NFL franchise was intentionally tanking for could only be grouped with John Elway, Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck before him. A generational quarterback prospect he is and any contrary argument would be viewed with utter disdain.
While all of that can still easily be true, never once questioning the overwhelming hype would be a mistake. Only a respectable personnel evaluator does such a thing.
We have no idea what Joe Douglas thinks of the kid. Douglas, appropriately so, would never tell a soul outside of the New York Jets organization. Yet, Douglas and the Jets were hammered at every turn for winning a couple of games against winning teams.
Based on what, exactly? A narrative.
On this day, the narrative has quickly shifted, and the greatest beneficiaries are the Jets. The Sugar Bowl could not have worked out any better for the Jets.
Many Jags fans are now questioning Lawrence at No. 1
The impossible has happened. Lawrence’s three-touchdown, one-interception, three-fumble game has many Jacksonville Jaguars fans questioning the blonde savior at No. 1. Prior to Friday, suggesting Justin Fields in the one-spot ahead of Lawrence would equal NFL draft heresy.
But Fields’s 385-yard, six-touchdown night in the face of a wicked second-quarter hit to the side of the body has brought on such feelings. The kid was tough all night. He was impressive to the point that he completely outplayed the Clemson quarterback.
To screw up the applecart this much can only bring positives for the team picking second. To even suggest Fields over Lawrence at No. 1 not only makes fools out of draft experts and the media alike, but it brings more distrust in the land of Jacksonville.
Trevor Lawrence is a Jaguar. pic.twitter.com/Lln80aRF7q
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) December 27, 2020
The hubris that is putting a Jags uniform on the kid before the college football season finished is something engineered just for clicks.
For the Jets, the more confusion at the top, the better the situation.
Fields’ stock is sky-high
What Fields did Friday night was elevate his stock to new heights. An explanation isn’t really required when pointing out the obvious: Fields’s new-found love helps the team picking No. 2 in the draft.
Quarterback-hungry teams will now be running for the second pick, whereas they power-walked prior. Suddenly, the Jags might be second-guessing the pre-set narrative that had Lawrence in teal.
Even if everything stays the same, Douglas’s power in the draft has been exponentially increased.
Douglas is no longer an idiot for not tanking
Douglas and the Jets were never foolish for winning games. First of all, tanking in the NFL is an impossibility based on football’s natural tendencies. Each of the 16 games is precious to every independent contractor in the league looking for his next payday.
The mere inkling of an organization intentionally tanking decreases the available player and coach pool to hire from. Douglas understands this. He also understands that a franchise doing everything in its power to win a game usually brings the best results over the long-haul.
For those Jets fans mourning the likely loss of Trevor Lawrence, remember this one thing: Doing the right thing, and conducting your business the right way, trying to win every game no matter the situation, usually works out the in the grand scheme of things. #TakeFlight
— Robby Sabo (@RobbySabo) December 27, 2020
On this day, Douglas’s options at No. 2 are much more rewarding than on Thursday.
If a team comes calling for Fields at No. 2, Douglas can bring in a king’s ransom and still end up with Zach Wilson. The teams that want Penei Sewell will now have to outbid the quarterback-starving teams that want Fields at No. 2. Douglas can even snag Fields at No. 2 if he feels comfortable with the kid.
Hell, in the bizarro NFL, the Jags love what they hear from Fields in their one-on-one conversations and stun the world at No. 1, leaving Lawrence for the Jets. While that’s not a likely outcome, it’s something that can now be discussed without stones being thrown across the internet.
In a nutshell, possibilities that have always existed can now comfortably be discussed base on one huge game and its ultimate result.
The Sugar Bowl results have brought the NFL draft world to its knees. Maybe Douglas was already at this point the entire time. Perhaps it’s part of the reason “No. 1 or bust” wasn’t his mindset. Sure, winning games no matter the situation is his culture-driven philosophy the entire time, but maybe he wasn’t in love with Lawrence the way the rest of the world was.
In any event, a true discussion around all four quarterbacks can now be had. Obviously, the Jets were already on that track, but the rest of the world has now been clued in. It’s OK to doubt any one kid, no matter the pre-set narrative.
And now that’s it’s fashionable to do so, the New York Jets are in the driver’s seat of the 2021 NFL draft.