I hate being a New York Jets fan. We don't have any common sense. We're delusional, deranged and often in denial. Yet, we're like Kerouacian roman candles, "Who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing." This is why the firing of Rex Ryan hurt so much, even if his fate was inevitable after finishing 4-12, their worst record since 2007.
The 2014 season was an epic disaster. The litany of misfortunes, from a season-ending injury to cornerback Dee Milliner to the stunted development of Geno Smith to the fossilization of Chris Johnson, created for Gang Green a year of utter misery. Not to mention the schadenfreude of the New England Patriots winning a Super Bowl with Darrelle Revis in the secondary. Yes, the casting of John Idzik as GM was on par with Ryan Reynolds as the Green Lantern, albeit Idzik's press conference has now entered the realm of performance art.
But that doomed era has passed us, and like John Keats wrote, "Sweet Hope, ethereal balm upon me shed, And wave thy silver pinions o'er my head!" Let the delusions commence.
The bluster of Rex is now exiled to Buffalo and into replace him is Todd Bowles, a man with the same defensive intensity, but a more low-key approach. This might be what the team needs. Rex was loved by his players and fans like myself, but his mad genius was one dimensional and became schtick after six seasons. He was the Will Muschamp of the NFL. Bowles brings with him a reputation for being meticulous and measured. In his two years as defensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals he created a top-five scoring defense even with a depleted core. The Jets have a solid defensive line featuring Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson, which was top-five against the run. They need cornerbacks and an edge rusher, and new general manager Mike Maccagnan has some cap room to make things happen.
With around $50 million in cap space and the sixth pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Jets have room to fill their laundry list of needs. They will sign a cornerback for sure. Yes, a reunion with Antonio Cromartie is in the cards. They will make a concerted effort to extend Wilkerson's contract and re-sign David Harris as their top priorities. On the offensive side, Chris Johnson is gone, so look for them to add a playmaker like C.J. Spiller who can reteam with new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. The biggest decision, though, will come down to what happens with Percy Harvin. Obtained in a mid-season trade, Harvin is without a doubt the type of offensive weapon the Jets need, but his porcelain fragility and $10 million cap hit and draft compensation make it a tough decision. Speaking of the draft, the Jets are in position to land a game-changer. And no, his name won't be Marcus Mariota. They have a quarterback already, and a franchise one for sure.
Yes, perhaps it's ludicrous, but Geno Smith has shown that he can actually be a legitimate quarterback in this league. I mean, he was perfect in Week 17. Seriously, Rex Ryan develops quarterbacks the way Kanye West develops humility. Smith's inconsistency was partially because of the system of offense he was asked to run. Now, with Chan Gailey, he will return to the spread where he blossomed in college at West Virginia. Also, understand that another Jets quarterback struggled just as much as Smith did his first few years. Look at Joe Namath's stats. Then, in his fifth season, he wins a Super Bowl. Thus, there's no point in drafting another spread/option quarterback like Mariota. We already have someone who does that. Yes, signing a veteran will be key, but the Jets had the third-best rushing offense in the league. Put Geno in a position to win by giving him some offensive weapons and perhaps miracles can happen.