It’s Monday morning and I’m fuming.
My anger has little to do with the Knicks losing to Toronto on Sunday night. Instead it’s my other winter team that has drawn my ire.
The New York Jets.
And yes, the Jets actually won this week. The problem is they beat the wrong team at the wrong time. The Jets played the Titans, and both teams had identical 2-11 records before the game. A loss would have put the Jets in position to have the third overall pick in the draft. But with their victory, they slide down to 6th.
Let me tell you what the problem is with the New York Jets. They have no QB. And in the NFL, when you don’t have a decent QB you have huge problems. Go look at the franchise index, and their winning seasons align with good play from under the center. And more importantly, their bad seasons come with bad quarterbacks.
Look around the NFL and it’s unmistakeable that winning teams get good or great production from the passing game. This year the top teams are the Patriots, Broncos, Packers, Colts, Lions, Cowboys, Seahawks, and Cardinals. With the exception of Arizona, you can probably name the QB of each team.
So why am I so mad? With the third overall pick the New York Jets had a very good chance at landing one of the two premier quarterbacks available in the draft. Now I’m not a college football expert to declare that either Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston is going to be a great professional. However it’s likely that this opportunity is closed for New York with the 6th pick, and they’ll have to roll the dice in a latter round (or overreach with their lottery pick) to get a replacement at QB.
Deep down this isn’t really why I’m mad. I know it’s unrealistic to expect paid athletes to lose a game. It’s not in their makeup, because they didn’t make to the .0001% of their profession without a boatload of confidence that they are among the best at their craft. For them, the desire to succeed is so great that it defines them. And that’s true for the coaching staff as well.
Deep down I know the real reason I’m mad is that the Jets put themselves in this position to begin with. New York took the wrong QB in the 2013 draft, after trading up to take the wrong QB in the 2009 draft. And the problem isn’t so much that they’ve struck out in the draft at a critical position twice in a row. Can I fault them for not grabbing Josh Freeman or Mike Glennon? Not exactly, but in some ways yes. They don’t need to be perfect in the draft, but clearly they had better options. The draft is designed to allow teams to replenish themselves at positions of need. And the Jets failed twice in 4 years to do so.
Freeman and Glennon weren’t their only options at respectability. The Jets had Drew Stanton, who was Arizona’s QB before getting injured, on their roster a few years back and dumped him for Tim Tebow. They’ve traded away draft picks, and squandered them. Look at their last 3 drafts and you’ll find lots of busts at high picks: Calvin Pryor, Jace Amaro, Dexter McDougle, Dee Milliner, Geno Smith, and Stephen Hill. Pryor could have been Teddy Bridgewater, and Hill could have been Russell Wilson or Nick Foles.
Deep down I’m mad because the Jets have been a badly run team. And now their chances of turning things around quickly are slim. They’ve forced themselves into a small window for success, because of their mismanagement. And deep down I’m mad, because on a day they win I have to be upset that they didn’t lose. Because losing that one game hurt them in the one small way they could theoretically get better quickly. Ultimately I was so excited by the prospects of them losing that game, because I have so little faith that they can develop a QB the more difficult way. What the heck kind of sports fan have they turned me into?
And why am I talking about this on my basketball blog? Because the similarities are there between the Jets and the Knicks. In the NBA winning a championship without great players is impossible. Much like not having a good QB, not having two or three great players means you’re sitting out come playoff time (certainly by the second round). The Knicks have one player that could fit this role: Carmelo Anthony. But they need another. And another after that.
They’ll have a good amount of cap space this summer, and they’ll have a potentially high draft pick. And to be honest, they can’t afford to screw either one up. Because much like the Jets, they have given themselves a small window in which to succeed. Anthony’s contract blows up substantially after next year and of course they don’t have next year’s first round pick, which makes acquiring another star much more difficult. Much like the Jets, the Knicks don’t make the difficult happen. (Well not in a positive way.)
So I’m sure there will be a March or April game that the Knicks win against a team they’re jostling for position in the draft. And I’ll be mad at them for it. But really I’ll be mad that they’re just a another poorly run franchise with one narrow path to being a great team.