The Jets' dismal 5-11 season left them heading into an offseason of uncertainty with a high draft pick and seemingly little hope. At the moment, there are far more questions about their plans and the future than there are acceptable answers.
But since you asked, I'll give it a shot anyway in the first offseason edition of my SNY Jets Twitter mailbag. Here is Part I:
After 2 polarizing seasons, what does Todd Bowles have to do with this talent-deficient team in 2017 to NOT get fired? -- @mtajaj32
Well, winning would be nice. Not being embarrassed the way the Jets constantly were over the last month or so of the season would be a great place to start. But in general, I think both Bowles and maybe even GM Mike Maccagnan have to get the arrow pointed in the right direction, so to speak. This past season was a dangerous downward spiral. They have to show some promise in 2017 and give everyone a reason to think the future is bright.
Now, I know that's not what Jets fans want to hear. You're tired of constant rebuilding, retooling or whatever. You're tired of long-term projects and you want to just win. I get it. They get it. But the reality is this is a "talent-deficient team" at many spots. Maybe that's harsh, but it's got a lot of older veteran that probably have to go and a bunch of young, promising players that haven't fully developed yet.
It's a work in progress.
And oh, by the way, the Jets still don't have a franchise quarterback - and that's probably the biggest reason that you and Woody Johnson need to be patient. It might be popular to say that Bowles needs a playoff berth or that he has to win a certain number of games this season to survive. But it's just impossible to put a definitive expectation on him or the team when the quarterback situation remains an unknown. At best, it'll be a veteran quarterback that needs to learn the offense (under a new offensive coordinator) and their might be growing pains. It's possible it'll be a rookie, or otherwise young player, who'll have to endure growing pains too.
But whatever it is, they have to identify the quarterback and start the process, and by the end of the season they need to be a team that plays hard, that can win some games, and is on the edge of really competing for the playoffs, if not more. This season the Jets left everyone with no reason for hope at all. If things seem just as hopeless at the end of next season, you can bet they'll be searching for a new coach.
How did the Jets manage to draft Christian Hackenberg in the 2nd round, 84 picks before Dak Prescott? -- @RickJBrody
Well, I understand why you'd be perplexed by that. There were nine quarterbacks drafted in the first four rounds of the 2016 draft and all but one - Hackenberg - got into a game this season. Obviously Prescott, drafted 135th overall, became a star and led the Cowboys to the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
Before I answer your question though, let's be honest. If 134 players, including eight quarterbacks, were taken before Prescott then everybody misjudged him. Also, if Tony Romo doesn't get hurt, Prescott doesn't get the opportunity. And he was playing on a loaded team behind a huge and powerful offensive line. I'm not saying he wasn't great or that he won't continue to be, I'm just saying everything stacked in his favor. It didn't exactly work out that way for Hackenberg.
That said, as I've said before, it's still alarming to me that in a season when all three of the quarterbacks in front of Hackenberg on the Jets depth chart got hurt, they still couldn't squeeze him into the game. From what I've heard, they didn't think he was ready, and that's really frightening. A lot of scouts and personnel people thought he was overdrafted at 51 - and they might be right.
But keep in mind that we have nothing to judge Hackenberg on yet except for what he didn't get a chance to do. Presumably this summer we will see him a lot in training camp and in the preseason and we'll all be able to judge him better. I don't know if he'll get a chance to compete for the starting job in 2017, but even that isn't really enough to write him off yet.
The Jets had a conviction on him when they took him in Round 2. I don't believe you can overdraft or pay too much for a quarterback if he's the right quarterback. That's how important the position is and how important stability at that position is. They key, though, is that you have to be right. The Jets thought they were and they haven't given up on him yet.
Were they wrong to like him over Prescott? For now, it sure looks that way. But who knows how much different things will look on both ends in a couple of years?