What if fixing the New York Jets, and bringing the franchise back to contention, was as easy as four steps?
From the brightest minds in the industry to anyone that follows the sport of football, it seems like everyone has taken a crack this year at coming up with a plan to turn this organization around.
For some, it's an intricate process involving future draft picks, cap space, timely acquisitions and more. It's fun playing general manager and owner when you're not actually in their shoes.
For others, an 0-11 start to the 2020 season has resulted in repeated tweets that yell "FIRE GASE" as the number in the loss column of New York's record continues to grow.
One NFL writer, ESPN's Bill Barnwell, came up with a comprehensive four-step process designed to turn this franchise around and bring the organization back to contention.
Here's how Barnwell would fix the Jets:
1. Fire Adam Gase and replace him with an offensive head coach and Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator
Yup, you guessed it! Firing head coach Adam Gase is the first order of business. Even if Gase isn't currently concerning himself with his job security, this move could be made sooner than later.
The model, as depicted by Barnwell, is to get rid of Gase (who's tenure in East Rutherford is on pace to go down as "one of the worst performances as a head coach in NFL history") and build around a few phenoms with general manager Joe Douglas calling the shots.
With the right head coach running this team, the next three steps can flow a whole lot easier. Especially when you consider the young talent that's already present in this locker room (along with draft capital up the wazoo for the next several years).
Who should the Jets hire? Here's Barnwell's take:
The offensive-minded coach can be one of a number of candidates. Eric Bieniemy (Chiefs) is long overdue for an opportunity to serve as head coach. Kellen Moore (Cowboys) is a viable option. Arthur Smith has done wonders with Ryan Tannehill & Co. in Tennessee. Joe Brady's offense has been solid in Carolina despite dealing with injuries to key players such as Russell Okung and Christian McCaffrey. Any one of those four with Phillips would be a victory for the Jets.
Sound like a plan? Firings are already in full swing across the NFL. Looks like it's only a matter of time until Gase (who is 7-20 as the Jets head coach) is looking for work.
2. Draft a quarterback and trade Sam Darnold
Another commonly discussed course of action for this franchise.
After New York fell 20-3 to the Dolphins on Sunday, courtesy in large part of a lifeless offense in green and white, Sam Darnold's record at quarterback in a Jets uniform dropped to 11-22.
There's no question he's shown glimpses of greatness since he was drafted in 2018, but by the numbers Darnold has consistently been one of the league's worst.
Conflicted about Darnold's future with the Jets? Barnwell asks, "do you want to tie your future to a player who hasn't been healthy or effective as a pro?"
Assuming New York continues on its path to the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the choice of which quarterback the Jets should bring in will be a no-brainer. Then again, it's not necessarily going to be that simple, so Barnwell considers other options too (just in case).
Ideally, this would be drafting Trevor Lawrence with the first overall pick, but the Clemson star could still follow in Peyton Manning's footsteps and leave the Jets at the altar by returning to school for another season. The Jets have a 69.2% chance of finishing with the first overall selection, according to the ESPN Football Power Index (FPI), and could otherwise draft Ohio State's Justin Fields or North Dakota State's Trey Lance, who are seen as the next-best quarterback prospects in this class.
3. Sign a No. 1 wide receiver
What we've already seen from rookie Denzel Mims in five career games is enough to show he's the real deal at his position. Mix in Jamison Crowder from the slot and you've got two quality weapons for this club's aerial attack going forward.
With Breshad Perriman up for free agency after this season, Barnwell says New York should go out, overpay if necessary and secure a true top option this offseason.
Here's Barnwell's assessment on which receivers the Jets should go after in what is shaping up to be a loaded market:
The free-agent market currently projects to have a handful of legitimate No. 1s in Kenny Golladay (Lions), Will Fuller (Texans), Allen Robinson (Bears), JuJu Smith-Schuster (Steelers) and Chris Godwin (Bucs). A few of those guys will likely return to their current teams, but in a year in which the league will be dealing with a reduced salary cap, the Jets might actually have a shot at getting one of these guys. I would prefer Smith-Schuster if given my choice of the five, but adding a wideout needs to be a priority.
4. Use cap space to take advantage of the market on defense
Speaking of offseason spending...
Douglas said early last month that teams can't buy their way to success. It's the franchises that build through the draft and develop their young players that are better off, something he intends to accomplish with this team going forward.
With the amount of cap space this team is projected to have in the offseason, there's room to spend a bit and potentially expedite the rebuild without going overboard too quickly.
The Jets project to have more than $82 million in cap space next year, which will be a huge opportunity in a market where teams will be struggling with the first significant cap reduction in more than a decade. No team was budgeting or structuring its contracts to account for a $175 million cap in 2021, and teams are going to be forced to make moves accordingly. Veterans whose deals might have been safe in a normal year are going to be asked to take a pay cut, released outright or allowed to hit the open market. This should be a buyer's market for those few teams who do have plenty of cap room.
The Jets are one of those teams, and while their forays into free agency have been disastrous in years past, Douglas was smarter with his decisions this spring, signing players to add depth and mostly sticking to short-term deals as opposed to mammoth deals for stars like [C.J.] Mosley and cornerback Trumaine Johnson. In next year's market, Douglas should have the spending power to fill multiple positions without having to break the bank or make onerous long-term commitments. If he shops right — and the Jets can persuade Phillips to come to town — their defense could improve quickly on this year's 27th-ranked unit by DVOA.
So, there you go. Move on from Gase and Darnold, add a rookie quarterback while bringing in a top option at receiver and spend some money on defense in the offseason.
According to Barnwell, if the Jets can check those four boxes, they'll be able to turn it around in the next few years.
Is he right? What do you think?
To read the rest of Barnwell's piece on ESPN, highlighting how he would fix four of the NFL's rebuilding franchises, click here!