It's hard to know all that and see a roster that isn't exactly overflowing with talent and come to any conclusion other than this: The Jets are tanking this season with their eyes set on the No. 1 pick in next year's quarterback-rich draft, where they can finally get the franchise quarterback they've been searching for since Joe Namath.
Sounds far-fetched? Perhaps. Then again, when Jets GM Mike Maccagnan was asked that question point blank on Tuesday evening, hours after cutting another veteran (linebacker David Harris) and telling another he would be leaving soon (receiver Eric Decker), he didn't exactly say no.
"That's not the question," a somber Maccagnan said. "That's not something we're focused on. We're focused on making decisions about this team going forward."
Asked, "Is that a no?" Maccagnan again declined to use that definitive word.
"That's not our focus," he said.
OK, maybe that's just playing a game of semantics coming from a GM who talks in coach-speak, refusing to be committal about anything at all. Or maybe he knows how bad this rebuilding project looks at the moment and knows it would be hard for him to argue he's assembled a playoff team.
And maybe the look of this roster will be deceiving, but right now it's catnip for tired, frustrated, angry Jets fans who at this point wouldn't mind if the Jets truly embraced the "Suck for Sam" - a reference to USC quarterback Sam Darnold, who at this point is the favorite to be taken first in next year's draft. They have been stung by faux franchise quarterbacks for years, even decades.
Enduring one more year of waiting for a potential franchise savior wouldn't be the worst thing - assuming Darnold is as good as advertised and decides to leave school early. And, of course, assuming the Jets could get the tanking right.
But tanking isn't easy. For one, as Maccagnan said several times on Tuesday, football "is a competitive business". The players obviously will want to win. And so will coach Todd Bowles, who could be the first casualty of a season gone wrong even if that were the intention of Jets management. Also, as exciting as the future would be, a true tank job would leave owner Woody Johnson staring at a lot of unsold tickets, empty seats and probably quite a few unhappy season ticketholders.
Speaking of them, some of them have to be wondering at this point exactly why they paid for their ticket renewals. What does Maccagnan have to say to them?
"I think our focus has been, from Day One really, to build this thing through the draft," he said. "We've obviously talked about building a young team going forward that will position us for success. It's going to be a competitive roster. There's going to be a lot of opportunities for a lot of players on this roster and that's will play out over time. We're doing the things we feel are going to help this organization over the short and long term."
OK, but what about winning? Isn't that what matters most?
"Our focus is (that) we're in a competitive business, so I think our focus is to see how we create competition on our roster going forward," Maccagnan said. "We'll do everything in our power to be competitive (in games). That's the business we're in. We'll see how that unfolds going forward."
That's hardly the voice of confidence or a playoff guarantee. It sounds more like a man preparing for a struggle this season. Maybe it was right for the future of this franchise to cut Harris and (eventually) Decker, along with receiver Brandon Marshall, cornerback Darrelle Revis, center Nick Mangold, tackle Breno Giacomini and kicker Nick Folk. Maybe it makes sense to give his draft picks and other young players a true, unobstructed opportunity to sink or swim.
But that is destined to create growing pains - maybe a lot, especially if the Jets make a quick move from 38-year-old journeyman quarterback Josh McCown to second-year pro Christian Hackenberg. The wins could be hard to come by. So how exactly would Maccagnan measure success then?
"I think we'll measure it in terms of different things," Maccagnan said. "Obviously wins and losses. We'll measure it on how players develop. There's a lot of aspects that go into that and we'll kind of evaluate it going forward."
Again, maybe that's all just non-committal GM-speak, but Maccagnan seems to have gone to great lengths to avoid saying the Jets will be "good" or "a winner". He wouldn't even say that he disagrees with the notion that the Jets have the NFL's worst roster ("I'm not going to speculate on our roster or anybody else's roster," he said). Perhaps it's because he knows he can't argue that point. Or perhaps it's because this is all what he wants out of this season. Maybe he knows one season in the tank is exactly what the Jets need.
It wouldn't be the worst strategy. It's worked for many franchises in many sports over the decades.
But if that's really what Maccagnan is doing, it just means that these Jets and their embattled fans are in for a very, very, very long year.