While landing Aaron Rodgers or Derek Carr would do wonders for the NY Jets’ Super Bowl odds, missing out on them isn’t the end of the world
The New York Jets find themselves in a rare position in the NFL. They have an excellent defense, a good wide receiver room, a good running back room, and a strong young core. Sure, their offensive line could use some work, but that’s an argument for a different discussion.
The missing link for the Jets’ success on the field is at the quarterback position—something that everyone who follows the team knows. And, quite frankly, it’s an issue that’s starved the Jets for far too long.
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Sure, everyone wants Aaron Rodgers or Derek Carr; but if the Jets miss out on either of those two players, is it really the end of the world for the team’s chances at success?
The honest answer is no—as much as that may pain NY Jets fans.
While quarterback is the most important position in football, we’re at a time in the NFL when many quarterbacks are good enough to get the job done.
Obviously, having someone like Patrick Mahomes will add wins to your year-end total. Everyone wants a Patrick Mahomes on their team. But even a player like Jacoby Brissett can have a good enough EPA to help your team win games without an incredible drop-off in play.
As you can see, unless you had Patrick Mahomes—or the unreal CPOE of 2022 Geno Smith—most QB play was generally similar. Of course, that’s excluding the three horrific cases of Baker Mayfield, Carson Wentz, and Davis Mills (Zach Wilson did not qualify).
So, if having that quarterback isn’t the end-all, be-all to success, how can the NY Jets find themselves back in the playoff hunt?
The Rex Jets and Dan Campbell’s Detroit Lions
Let’s be frank, here: If Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh had nearly anyone other than Zach Wilson as the Jets’ starting quarterback this season, the team would have made the playoffs.
Missing on Zach Wilson was huge, but not because he was average. It’s because he was so far below average that he hurt the team in insurmountable ways.
Heck, we saw a green Mark Sanchez—with all his flaws—lead the Jets to back-to-back conference championship games. Aaron Rodgers and Derek Carr are the prizes of the offseason, but if the Jets only manage to land one of the other available quarterbacks, it’s not the end of the world. At least, not as long as the team is willing to build around them.
We saw those 2009 and 2010 teams built around their strengths: running the ball and playing hard defense. The Jets took the ball out of Mark’s hands unless it was necessary, and it paid dividends.
All Sanchez had to do was play mistake-free ball; and for the most part, he was able to do that. Building and maintaining an elite offensive line helped, and we’re seeing similar execution of this in another NFL team as we speak: the Detroit Lions.
Jared Goff was a good but not great quarterback who saw his fall from grace occur when he was dealt for Matthew Stafford prior to the 2021 season.
Becoming the starting QB for the Lions, Goff was fairly mediocre in 2021. He barely surpassed the 3,000 passing-yard mark and only mustered 19 passing touchdowns on the season. But instead of giving up on him, Dan Campbell and the Lions had a vision of the offense and saw it come to fruition.
In 2022, Goff threw for nearly 4,500 yards with 29 passing touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. The team continued to build the offensive line and added pieces to the offense, and it worked. While they just fell short of the playoffs – which many blame on the officiating of the final week of the NFL – it showed that you don’t need an elite QB to have great success on offense. The Lions finished with the 5th-most PPG on the season under Goff.
If the Jets are able to stay patient and continue to build the offense, it matters a lot less as to who is under center. And perhaps, having a cheaper option – like Mike White – could allow the team the wiggle room to not only build up the offense but continue to keep the defense stout as well.
Everyone wants the Jets to land a big-name quarterback. But maybe that isn’t as important as it once was for the team to have success if they’re able to follow a blueprint.