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How the NY Jets can fix their backup quarterback situation

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The New York Jets need to take QB2 seriously this time around

The 2023 season is over for the New York Jets, marking the end of a disappointing year that began with so much promise. While the team’s defense was very good once again, the offense struggled for a myriad of reasons.

Due to injuries to key pieces, poor depth, and regression from starting players, the offensive line made life difficult for the rest of the unit.

Outside of Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall, the Jets lacked talent at the skill positions. Players failed to get open frequently or take any pressure off of the two offensive superstars.

While offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett showed some signs of life late in the season, he was a burden to the team for large parts of it. His lack of creativity, misunderstanding of personnel, and misusage of players all played a significant role in the team’s massive struggles.

Arguably, though, the biggest issue for the Jets this past season may have been the backup quarterback situation.

Behind Aaron Rodgers, the Jets handled their backups in the worst way possible.

The Jets did not add any legitimate backup quarterbacks in the offseason. They solely relied on Zach Wilson as the next man up, rather than ensuring he would receive the “red-shirt” season they desired to give him as a way of maximizing his ability to develop.

Additionally, the Jets did not aggressively pursue viable options after Rodgers went down in Week 1. Opting to roll with Tim Boyle and Trevor Siemian as the insurance options behind Wilson made it seem as if the organization was throwing in the towel.

Luckily, there are a few different ways that the Jets can completely rectify their quarterback room behind Rodgers in 2024. It is essential for the team to figure this out, as another lost season will most likely cause heads to roll.

If the Jets follow these three steps, their quarterback room will be in great shape entering the 2024 season.

#1: Get a veteran backup in free agency

It’s pretty obvious, right?

For the Jets to be in the best possible position in 2024, they need to add a legitimate veteran backup option behind quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The team is not in a position to play their cards similar to the 2023 season; otherwise, this current regime will be out of their jobs.

Free agency offers some good options, with a few players immediately coming to mind as immediate upgrades to their current situation.

Arguably, the best of the free agent options is Jacoby Brissett, who played for the Washington Commanders this past season.

Jets fans saw firsthand how Brissett could impact a game in Week 16 when he erased New York’s lofty lead in two quarters. Brissett also delivered a quality performance against the Jets in Week 2 of the 2022 season, then as a member of the Browns.

Since his NFL career began in 2016, the NC State product has thrown for 51 touchdowns, 23 interceptions, 10,574 yards, and an 85.3 passer rating.

While not a superstar by any means, Brissett is more than capable of leading an offense in a pinch or for multiple games at a time. In a scenario where Rodgers suffered another injury, the longtime backup could keep the Jets afloat for an extended period.

Brissett is not the only free-agent option for the Jets, though.

Gardner Minshew presents a more chaotic option than Brissett but offers equally valuable production out of the backup quarterback spot. Taking over for an injured Anthony Richardson, Minshew helped to keep the Colts afloat and almost got them to the NFL playoffs.

In 13 starts for Indianapolis, the former Jaguars and Eagles quarterback had 3,305 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, and nine interceptions, earning an 84.6 passer rating. The Colts went 7-6 in his starts.

Other players such as Jameis Winston and Ryan Tannehill could also work in this role. Regardless of who they choose, the Jets need their backup to be a reliable veteran who is ready to play if called upon. Of the available players, Brissett and Minshew seem like the best options based on their recent performance.

#2: Select a developmental draft prospect

In addition to a veteran option, the Jets should look toward the draft for a developmental option.

Prospects like Michael Penix Jr., Bo Nix, and J.J. McCarthy look to be higher-round prospects, while Drake Maye, Jayden Daniels, and Caleb Williams will likely be gone within the first few picks. The Jets probably will not be in the running for a quarterback early in the draft.

Furthermore, some of the most widely discussed late-round dart throw prospects, such as Cam Ward and Quinn Ewers, decided to return to school.

Despite what looks like a lack of options, New York should still try to come away from the draft with a quarterback.

The most popular option has been Tulane’s Michael Pratt. A four-year starter, Pratt has a big arm and tends to be aggressive in throwing the ball down the field.

Pratt has had at least 13 big-time throws (per Pro Football Focus) in each of his seasons, jumping to a career-high of 19 this past season. His big-time throw rate of 6.5% ranked 11th-best among 95 qualified FBS quarterbacks (min. 300 dropbacks). Additionally, Pratt threw for 21 touchdowns in each of his last three seasons.

However, the downside of this aggression is Pratt’s tendency to put the ball in harm’s way. According to PFF, Pratt had a turnover-worthy play rate of 3.9% this season, ranking 66th. This is where he’d need development at the NFL level.

The hope, in this situation, would be that Rodgers could play a teacher role similar to the one he had with current Packers quarterback Jordan Love. If the Jets take a talented yet raw quarterback like Pratt and let him develop behind Rodgers for a year or two, they could benefit in the long run.

Whether for one or two seasons, letting Pratt or any other drafted quarterback sit behind Rodgers (and a veteran backup) is a smart option for the organization. This would allow them to develop a potential future starter while they focus on competing in the present.

#3: Add another voice to the room

Outside of adding to the position, the Jets should consider adding another coach to the quarterback room.

While Nathaniel Hackett is close friends with Rodgers, his track record in developing other quarterbacks is spotty. And while quarterback coach Rob Calabrese is well-respected, he is inexperienced, and it’s up for debate what role he played in Zach Wilson’s lack of development.

If they’re not going to cut ties with any of their current coaches, the Jets should add another coach to bring an outside perspective to the quarterback room, such as Frank Reich or Luke Getsy. This coach would not be responsible for calling plays or game-planning, allowing them to consistently work with the young quarterback.

As crucial as renovating the on-field product is, enhancing the coaching staff is also critical.

There are many weaknesses that the Jets need to improve on in the offseason. Quarterback is arguably the most important. By adding a reliable veteran and a talented rookie while tweaking their coaching staff, the team can place itself in a much better position for both the present and the future at the game’s most vital position.

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5 months ago

Calabrese needs to be the first to go. I don’t think they need an additional voice, they need a QB coach with some experience, and who has shown some results as a coach. I have no idea how Calabrese still holds that position.

The #1 problem with the team this year was the OL, and when you are playing 13-15 different offensive lineman I don’t think you can chalk it up to lack of depth. No team has 10 starting caliber offensive lineman, and I’d say any of the QB’s you mentioned here would struggle. Minshew lost that game they needed to win at home to get into the playoffs. Brisett has made the playoffs 1 time in his career and lost that game.

I do agree they need a better backup with the idea being if they lose Rogers for 2 or 3 games they have a guy that can win some games, but if he’s out the season it won’t matter.

We can talk about Cleveland all we want but Flacco had 8 picks in 5 games, and we saw how bad he was in that playoff game. Teams that lose their starter don’t do well. We have to stop looking at outliers and saying “see look, they did it.”