The New York Jets lost a heartbreaker to the rival New England Patriots on Monday Night Football. Now they’re at the bottom of the ranks looking up at the rest of the NFL. For Jets fans, it may seem like 2020 is the low point, but the worst could be yet to come. The Jets are up against an even tougher salary cap situation in 2021. Let’s look at the state of the franchise, why they’re so cap-strapped, and what they can do to improve in the short-term.
The current state of the New York Jets franchise
The Jets have had a tough go of it for a long time, but they may be at one of their lowest points in 2020. The team is currently 0-8 (through the NFL’s week nine). They will likely win at some point, but it’s hard to imagine them being favored against anyone.
Head coach Adam Gase has drawn widespread criticism for looking overmatched. Gase underwhelmed in Miami, but some thought his offensive acumen would enable him to excel in New York. He hasn’t. Couple that with the fact that 2018 first-round draft pick Sam Darnold hasn’t been very special, and they look like a junior varsity team in a varsity league.
Why the Jets are looking at an expensive season in 2021
If you’re a Jets fan reading this waiting for the good news, you’re likely to be disappointed. According to OverTheCap, the Jets have $15 million in dead cap space on the books for 2021. A big reason for this is the contract of running back Le’Veon Bell. Bell was brought in to be the team’s primary back, but he never quite clicked with the rest of the roster.
Chalk it up to his age or lack of interest in playing for a bad franchise, but either way, Bell to the Jets was a flop. Earlier this season they cut him, getting nothing in return. So the verdict is in: The Jets are terrible and will be for quite some time. So how do they turn it around?
How the Jets can course-correct their struggling franchise
Right now, things aren’t looking great for the Jets. They’re stuck in the middle of a winless season with no hope in sight. Next year doesn’t look to bring about any relief, either. But there are a few measures the Jets can take to improve their chances for a better future:
- Fire Adam Gase: While it’s never fun to speculate about the fate of a man’s job, Gase has provided more than enough evidence that he’s not the right coach for this gig. The Jets haven’t shown any considerable improvement since he came to town.
- Stock up on draft picks: This is what great teams do. Whether it’s the Dallas Cowboys in the ’90s or the Belichick-era New England Patriots, trading the present for the future is the way to go. They still have to make the right picks, of course, which leads to the next point. Look to division-rival Miami for a guide on how to turn it around.
- Figure out if Joe Douglas is the right man for the job: He’s only been the GM for one full season, and obviously, things haven’t gone very well. It takes time for a new front-office regime to succeed, so Douglas may still be the right person. But if they don’t develop talent at some positions quickly, it could be time to move on.
- Move on from Sam Darnold: Darnold may still be a solid quarterback in this league, but it’s fairly apparent at this point that he’s not the man for the Jets. The Jets will likely have a top-five pick (if not number one overall) and should use it to grab one of the many highly touted quarterbacks this offseason.
The Jets’ path forward isn’t easy by any stretch, but the franchise is salvageable. It’s all about making better, more strategic moves going forward.