Jets fans can only watch the NFL playoffs with envy this weekend.
They saw six playoff quarterbacks making their playoff debut and two rookie quarterbacks playing their first playoff game.
Meanwhile, the Jets are still looking for a quarterback savior after 12 years of nonplayoff seasons and counting. If we want to really go back, we can go back to when Joe Namath left the Jets in May 1977, which has the franchise still looking for the next Namath.
This is the story of this franchise. They haven’t had a quarterback like what they saw this weekend for a long time. This explains why they haven’t made the playoffs in a decade.
The Jets have tried, no doubt. They drafted Sam Darnold and Zach Wilson as quarterbacks to lead them to prominence again. It hasn’t happened. Darnold flamed out after the team basically gave him nothing to work with, and Wilson imploded this season to the point where he may be traded after two forgettable NFL seasons.
Only the Jets could draft Wilson just last year and now see him likely gone in the off-season after a hideous second year. He can’t recover after the fans booed him, and his teammates stopped playing for him as he was not apologetic in the Jets’ 10-3 loss to the New England Patriots on Nov. 20. This is a quarterback that needs to go elsewhere to get his career back on track.
The Jets have no choice but to find a stopgap quarterback that can play for five more years. Maybe a veteran such as Jimmy Garoppolo or Derek Carr that has a lot of mileage on their arm. They are hoping one of them still has something left.
This is not really an ideal position for a franchise to be in, but what choice do they have? It’s the Jets’ own fault for being in this position.
The Jets screwed up by hiring Robert Saleh as the head coach to oversee Wilson’s development. It’s not that Saleh is a bad coach. He is far from it. Here’s the problem: He is a defensive-minded coach that possibly has no clue how to develop a young quarterback, and I doubt he has any interest either. Most defense-oriented coaches prefer to work with a veteran quarterback that knows what he is doing since developing a young quarterback takes so much time away from overseeing the entire team. There was a reason why Rex Ryan did not have that much interest in working with Mark Sanchez.
The Jets should have hired Doug Pederson as head coach when he was available. That mistake is more glaring after Pederson got results out of Trevor Lawrence, a rookie quarterback who was the No. 1 overall pick last year, with Wilson being the No. 2 overall pick.
Lawrence struggled to start the season, but he figured it out last month by throwing deep and scoring touchdowns that had the Jaguars win the AFC South by finishing the season with a five-game winning streak. In his first playoff game Sunday night, he engineered a 31-30 comeback victory by throwing four touchdowns despite having four interceptions.
Jets fans can only wonder what might have been if they had won the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes last year. But then again, there’s no guarantee it would have worked out the same if Saleh were coaching him.
It’s hard to believe Saleh would have gotten results as Brain Daboll got out of Daniel Jones this season. Jones made an impression in his playoff debut by throwing for 301 yards and two touchdowns in the Giants’ 31-24 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. He conducted the offense like a maestro by throwing to his receivers and running for first downs. It was like watching a star being born. This is where hiring a coach with an offensive background matters. Daboll has been an offensive coordinator for various teams for a long time, and he used that expertise well in working with Jones.
Brock Purdy, aka “Mr. Irrelevant” for being the last player in the NFL Draft this year, turned out to be a star in the making because San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan knows quarterbacks and offense, and that can put a quarterback in a position to succeed. All Purdy has done is score 13 touchdowns since replacing Garoppolo, who was out for the season with a broken foot that he suffered against the Miami Dolphins in Week 13. On Saturday, he threw three touchdown passes and ran for a touchdown for 332 total yards in the 49ers’ 41-23 rout of the outmatched Seattle Seahawks. He has yet to lose a game for the Niners.
Rookie quarterbacks doing well, with great offensive coaching, can only make Jets owner Woody Johnson even antsier. He has to be wondering why his team can’t get that. This puts more pressure on Saleh to win next season and on Douglas to find that quarterback.
Johnson can talk about there being no playoff mandates, but who’s he kidding? He is frustrated that his team has not made the playoffs in a long time now, and the Giants could be going on their Super Bowl run. There has to be pressure on his general manager to find the quarterback that can elevate his team and for his head coach to take them to the postseason.
If the Jets can’t achieve next year’s objectives, not only will the Jets draft a quarterback in the 2024 draft to be the next savior, but they will also be searching for a new head coach and a new general manager to be the next savior.
That is what this sorry franchise has been known for forever.