Will wide receiver Brandon Marshall become the leader that the New York Giants need?
Just prior to the start of a new calendar year in the National Football League, the New York Jets find themselves in a very familiar position which is that of starting over. After the Jets went 10-6 in 2015 which was their first season under the regime of general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles, the level of optimism increased for 2016. But those hopes were quickly dashed when the Jets began the season with a record of 1-5 and things never got any better. New York would limp to the finish line with a record of 5-11 which marked their second losing season in the last three years. But credit goes to Maccagnan and Bowles for not attempting to patch up the Jets issues with spit and glue.
Recently the Jets released three veteran players in center Nick Mangold, cornerback Darrelle Revis, and wide receiver Brandon Marshall. The moves will save the Jets roughly $46 million in cap space, while putting them $33 million under the cap line heading into a new year.
Mangold has spent his entire 11-year National Football League career with the Jets which included him being a seven-time Pro Bowl selection. But at the age of 33, along with injuries beginning to catch up with Mangold, Maccagnan made the decision that it was time to move on. In 2015, the Jets acquired Marshall from the Bears and he became an instant sensation. In Marshall’s first year with the Jets, he set single-season franchise records for receptions (109), and receiving yards (1,502), while tying the mark of 14 receiving touchdowns. But injuries and drops marred Marshall last year as he only managed to tally 59 receptions for 788 yards and 3 touchdowns. Revis is arguably one of the best players in Jets franchise history. And it appeared that Revis would be a lifer with Gang Green until he was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013. After winning a Super Bowl Championship with the New England Patriots in 2014, Revis returned to the Jets in 2015. However in 2016, Revis was showing signs of declining skills. It didn’t help Revis that he was recently arrested in Pittsburgh and charged with four felonies for his alleged involvement in a street fight as I am sure that this wasn’t the way in which he wanted to see his Jets career finish. These moves by the Jets are a clear indication that they are starting over, but Maccagnan still has plenty of work ahead of him.
Last season Marshall had an ongoing feud with defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson. Marshall considered himself to be a “team leader”, but Richardson wasn’t a fan of his. Richardson has been a distraction for the Jets in his own right following his 2015 arrest which ultimately led to him being found guilty last year for reckless driving and resisting arrest. Richardson was also disciplined last season by the Jets for his Snapchat video in the team’s locker room, while also being suspended by the National Football League for one game after his conviction.
The Jets had a chance to move on from Richardson last season when they put him on the trade block. However the Dallas Cowboys were the only team that showed interest in him and since they were only willing to part with a third-round pick, Maccagnan decided against the trade. But as the Jets have parted way with key veterans, a malcontent such as Richardson needs to be shown the door as well.
The Jets are no closer to being a contender now than the day when Maccagnan was introduced in Florham Park as the team’s new general manager. The Jets only have two quarterbacks on their roster with Bryce Petty having four starts under his belt in the National Football League, while Christian Hackenburg has yet to see any action. In releasing Mangold and offensive tackle Breno Giacomini, along with the retirement of D’Brickashaw Ferguson last year, New York doesn’t have any quality experience on their offensive line. And with Jets owner Woody Johnson being named as the United States ambassador to Britain, all of this points to the Jets “starting over” once again as it has an eerie feeling for anyone who has followed this franchise over the years.
Ever since the Jets shocked the world and defeated the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl 3, they have occasionally showed signs of hope, only to be turned away at the gate of success. After the Jets made the AFC Championship Game during the 1982 National Football League season, they took a huge step backwards in 1983 to finish 7-9. In actuality the Jets have appeared in the AFC Championship Game four times, including most recently in 2009 and 2010, but they always fell short.
Now Maccagnan has waved the white flag for a team and to a fan base that has to live with “the fake spike”, “the butt fumble”, and the fact that Bill Belichick was the Jets head coach for a day, before resigning to become the head coach of the New England Patriots which has led to him winning five Super Bowl Championships mainly at the expense of Gang Green, New York will once again have to sell their backers on starting over. But as the Jets appear to be starting over will Bowles be able to survive?
As of right now it appears that the Jets will more than likely be fighting an uphill battle this season, and as Bowles heads into his third season, he has yet to get New York to the playoffs which is never a good thing regardless if he is in the midst of a rebuilding process or not.
Bowles and Maccagnan are good guys who have walked into a impossible situation which to turn the fortunes of the Jets around. The Jets are a franchise that is still waiting for the next Joe Namath, and that guy doesn’t exist. And with the upcoming National Football League Draft not littered with franchise quarterbacks, while veteran quarterbacks who could be available such as Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo or Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears are not the long-term fix that the Jets need, this franchise is stuck on Groundhog Day minus Bill Murray.
The Ides of March have yet to arrive, but the 2017 National Football League season already appears to be a wash for the New York Jets.
It might be June, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any anything to talk about in the National Football League with one of the most compelling story lines currently involving the New York Jets. The Jets went 10-6 in 2015, but it wasn’t enough for them them to make the playoffs as they lost a tie-breaker to the Pittsburgh Steelers for the final postseason spot in the AFC. The Jets saw a six-game improvement in the win column, while their offense was one of the best in franchise history. The Jets were 10th in the NFL last year in total offense as running back Chris Ivory gained 1,070 rushing yards, and for the first time since 1968, New York had a pair of wide receivers gain at least 1,000 yards receiving as Brandon Marshall along with Eric Decker combined to total 2,529 receiving yards. The man at the middle of the Jets offensive attack was quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick who in his first year with the team fell just 95 yards short of becoming just the second player in franchise history to pass for 4,000 yards. And whereas the Jets should be looking to build off of being so close to the postseason last year, they can’t get out of their way here in June.
This off-season has seen Fitzpatrick become an unrestricted free agent, and something that was expected to be cut and dry as far as he and the Jets coming to an agreement on a new contract has been almost as fun as watching paint dry.
Since the free agency period in the National Football League began in March, the Jets and Fitzpatrick have been well off on a new contract. Fitzpatrick is looking for a lucrative deal and the Jets aren’t willing to cough up the bread for someone who they deem as a career journeyman.
Fitzpatrick was a seventh-round pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2005 and he has spent the majority of his National Football League career as a backup quarterback. Fitzpatrick has played for six NFL teams and 2015 marked the first time in his career that he posted a winning record in a season. Last year saw Fitzpatrick do two things that have plagued him throughout his career which is staying healthy and protecting the football. For just the third time in the NFL, Fitzpatrick made all 16 starts, while throwing 15 interceptions and 5 fumbles. But if you’re the Jets front office, you have to be weary about giving a big contract to a quarterback in Fitzpatrick who is a career journeyman and that will also be 34-years of age this November.
2015 was a career year for Fitzpatrick, but you can make the argument that this was due to the talent that he was surrounded by. Marshall made the Pro Bowl for the sixth time in his career, while he also set a Jets single-season for receiving yards with 1,502. By themselves, Marshall and Decker are tough receivers for secondaries in the National Football League to deal with, but together, they were nearly invincible. And due to the ability of Marshall and Decker, it was simply Fitzpatrick’s job to get them the football.
For the past decade the Jets have had one of the best offensive lines in football that has been anchored by offensive tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold. This offensive line only allowed Fitzpatrick to be sacked 19 times, while they also provided blocking for Ivory who gained 1,070 yards rushing. And if you look at Fitzpatrick’s previous record to joining the Jets, there isn’t a need for the folks at Florham Park to break the bank in keeping his services. It also isn’t helping Fitzpatrick’s case that when the Jets entered Week 17 only needing to win or tie to get into the postseason, that he went 16-of-37 passing for 181 yards and a pair of touchdown passes, while also throwing 3 costly interceptions.
Fitzpatrick continues to play the waiting game, but at this point he has lost all of his leverage in negotiations. Free agency is essentially done in the National Football League as teams around the league have addressed their quarterbacking needs either there, or through the draft which means that the Jets now hold all of the cards. And as the Jets are now in the midst of organized team activities, Geno Smith is getting all of the reps as the team’s starting quarterback that Fitzpatrick should be taking.
In his brief time as Jets general manager, Mike Maccagnan has taken a hard line stanch in his negotiations with the team’s free agents, and Fitzpatrick is finding out that he isn’t the exception. Training camp is set to begin next month, and the closer that we get to that date, the more of a distraction that this saga between Fitzpatrick and the Jets will be. And to make matters worse, whenever Fitzpatrick does sign a deal with the Jets, he has put more pressure on himself to perform as the New York media will eat him alive on any mistake that he makes as it will be deemed that his timing is off due to his not being around the team.
Things will be a little different for the Jets offense this year as Ferguson decided to retire after refusing to take a pay cut and he has done a solid job over the last ten years in protecting the blindside of the team’s quarterbacks. Ivory left as a free agent, and he is now a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars, while he has been replaced by former Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte. The Jets still have Marshall and Decker, but the bond between receivers and their quarterback is a special one and these gentleman need to be working on their timing together for the upcoming season.
And after being so close to getting to the postseason in 2015, things appear to starting off on the wrong foot her in 2016 for Gang Green before they even take the field.
During his tenure as the general manager of the New York Jets, John Idzik was criticized for being unable to improve the team’s roster. And because of this Jets owner Woody Johnson was left no choice but to fire Idzik after just two years on the job. Two month’s ago Johnson would replace Idzik as Jets general manager by hiring Mike Maccagnan. Prior to joining the Jets, Maccagnan worked in the college scouting department of the Houston Texans. This was a position that Maccagnan had held with the Texans since 2000. The Jets are Maccagnan’s first shot at the general manager rodeo in the National Football League and it didn’t take him that long to do that exact opposite of what his predecessor did in Florham Park, New Jersey.
According to multiple media outlets, the Jets have a deal in place to acquire wide receiver Brandon Marshall from the Chicago Bears. Terms of the deal have the Bears receiving a fifth-round pick as Marshall still needs to pass a physical with the Jets, but you have to give credit to Maccagnan in attempting to bring talent to New York. In setting up a deal to acquire Marshall, Maccagnan has done more in two months with the Jets than what Idzik did in two years to improve the team’s roster.
At 30-years of age, Marshall is a five-time Pro Bowl selection who is coming off of a season that saw him suffer two broken ribs and a collapsed lung. But at 6’4″, 230 lbs., Marshall is still one of the biggest and most physical wide receivers that is currently in the National Football League. Marshall has also ascended from the shadows that were once hindering his pro career.
Marhsall has had a history of run-ins with law enforcement while also being diagnosed as suffering from bipolar disorder. But Marshall has become extremely proactive in addressing his previous issues along with becoming a spokesperson for the disease. Last year Marshall became a regular on Showtime’s “Inside The NFL” which is recorded in New York City. Each week Marshall would fly to New York on the Bears off day to record the session. But new Bears general manager Ryan Pace was not a fan of that and you have to wonder if that was part of the reason that Marshall was sent packing.
As for the Jets, they still have plenty of issues that need to be addressed. Unlike Idzik, Maccagnan was able to hire his own head coach as he brought in Todd Bowles. Bowles is a likable guy that will have the respect and admiration of everyone within the Jets organization. As of right now Geno Smith appears to be the Jets starting quarterback, but with free agency set to begin in the NFL this month and the draft scheduled for next month, it would not surprise me to see Maccagnan make another move to acquire a quarterback. There are not too many viable options available in this year’s version of the NFL Draft and Maccagnan has already shown that he isn’t afraid to pull the trigger on a deal.
Maccagnan came along at the right time for the Jets. This is an organization in the Jets that needs structure, stability, and someone to get the fan base excited. The Jets are coming off of a 4-12 season and in the current NFL it doesn’t take that much for a team to have a quick turnaround. The biggest problems for the Jets are that they are still looking for the next Joe Namath to walk through the door while they also allow the New York media to put too much pressure on players as soon as they put on the green and white uniform on. Maccagnan could improve the Jets while also drafting and developing talent which would ensure long-term success and he has wasted absolutely no time in rolling up his sleeves and getting to work. In recent years the Jets did make trades to acquire wide receivers. It didn’t fully work out for the Jets when they acquired the likes of Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes, but the effort was there to improve the team under former general manager Mike Tannenbaum. The jury is still out on Maccagnan, but he is off on the right foot.