Playtime Is Over: The Jets Need To Get Their Franchise Quarterback
No team made more noise this offseason than the New York Jets. Despite bringing in a new coach and acquiring multiple Pro-Bowlers, their ceiling is still limited due to the glaring hole at quarterback.
Last week, Bleacher Report claimed the Jets are ready to move on from incumbent starter Geno Smith. The news isn't shocking, considering that for his career, Smith has nine more interceptions than touchdowns, and the Jets are 12-20 under his watch.
Also gone is the head coach and general manager that drafted Smith in the second round just two years ago.
Smith has shown enough flashes that not everybody is ready to give up. Noted QB guru and ESPN analyst Jon Gruden recently said he sees progress with Smith, and he's improving.
While Gruden knows quarterbacks, it's hard to justify that Smith has shown enough to believe he could lead a team to the playoffs.
Now, with such high-profile acquisitions, like Darrelle Revis and Brandon Marshall, not making the playoffs would be a huge disappointment for the Jets.
The new Jets regime has already brought in some competition for Smith in Ryan Fitzpatrick. It's always nice to have competition, but it would be nice to have a competition that isn't between two guys who would be better served as backups than starters.
Fitzpatrick has bounced around the league, and in his time as a starter, he has shown himself to be solid but nothing more. Just last year, he was benched by the Texans halfway through the season.
The Jets have finally gone all in after a few seasons of sitting out free agency and saving their money. They might have the best secondary in football, and for the first time in recent memory, they have some above-average offensive weapons.
The time has come for the Jets to make a move for a franchise quarterback. Now, doing so is much easier said than done.
Acquiring a franchise quarterback is the hardest thing to do in sports. There is usually never more than 10 true game-changers at the position in a league that has 32 teams.
There's no chance for the Jets to find their answer at quarterback in free agency or via trade, so the draft has to be their focus. Lucky for them, this year's draft has two guys who have the potential to be the guy the Jets haven't had since Joe Namath.
Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota are about as heralded as college quarterbacks could be. Both of them have won the Heisman trophy and taken their teams to the National Championship, with Winston winning one.
With only days left before the draft, it seems to be a foregone conclusion that Winston will be taken first overall by the Buccaneers. Maybe a Robert Griffin-type package could get them to deal the pick, but the odds of that happening aren't likely.
Assuming Winston is off the table, that leaves Mariota. The Titans have the second pick, and while they lack a franchise quarterback, too, the rumor mill has them wanting to move back if possible.
Surely, many teams would be interested in moving up to acquire such a highly thought-of quarterback in Mariota.
The Titans most likely wouldn't want to move back too far, which is good news for the Jets who own the sixth pick. A package including that pick and maybe a first next year would seem to be a fair deal for both parties.
Giving up an extra first round pick to move up just four spots seems like a lot, but if Mariota turns out to be the player many believe he could be, then it would be a steal for the Jets.
As good as Mariota is, there are still some areas of concern that explain why a team like the Titans might be hesitant to take him.
The biggest is what type of system Mariota fits in. He played in a system at Oregon that helped him succeed at the college level, but didn't fully prepare him for the NFL, as he took only five snaps from under center last year.
While the concern is understandable, this NFL is different from that of years past. Offenses are changing and evolving, as evidenced by what Mariota's old college coach, Chip Kelly, is doing in Philadelphia.
The Jets are in a perfect situation to take Mariota and build their offensive system around him, since they're coming in with a new coaching staff that can start completely from scratch.
Many experts, including Mariota supporters, believe he would benefit from not starting right away. That just isn't how it works in the league anymore, though. When you draft a quarterback that high, you start him week one and take your bumps.
Even an inexperienced and learning Mariota would give the retooled Jets a better chance this season than Smith or Fitzpatrick.
In a division dominated for a decade-plus by Tom Brady, you aren't going to be able to compete with average quarterback play, no matter how good your defense is.
The Jets have a chance to make some real noise with Mariota, so hopefully, for their sake, they do the un-Jets thing and make the right move.