The New York Jets have a storied history of making terrible decisions. From butt fumbles to foot fetishes1—and despite the very best efforts of the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions—the Jets have been the NFL’s most cringeworthy team for decades. From players that just can’t quite remember the names to all of their children to the signing of Tim Tebow, the Jets organization is particularly disenchanting, but the most frustrating thing about their endless ineptitude is that they manage to fuck everything up the exact same way, over and over. And with intended-savior-but-actually-inevitable-bust Sam Darnold in the mix, they’re primed to do it again. Here’s how:
Draft a rookie quarterback early. That’s how you get a good quarterback, right?
Rush things and start your rookie way before he’s ready. Who cares if you’ve got a perfectly serviceable, veteran QB who can win you games while your rookie stud earns his way onto the field through reps and hardwork? You’ve got gold burning a hole in your proverbial pocket just waiting on the bench. The Jets-iest thing to do now is to get him as many reps as possible while your team is as bad as possible, giving his fragile confidence plenty of opportunity to get crushed.
Win enough games to warrant another year of starts from your hero (read: doomed) QB but change absolutely nothing about your outdated strategy, faulty coaching model or questionable overall philosophy. You don’t want to help him, you want him to help you.
Build a team just exciting enough to start really getting your hopes up. Most likely by bringing in a big (but not superstar-caliber) name to the offense. A moderately successful WR like Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Eric Decker or Brandon Marshall will do the trick, but sometimes you’ll want to go with a nearly washed-up RB like Ladainian Tomlinson, Matt Forte or Chris Ivory.2 Sure, these guys are great, but none of these players will save you or your QB.
People start talking about the Jets! Great, right? Nope. New York is a tough city to play any sport in but even a moderate amount of winning will increase the media pressure on a 21 year-old quarterback to such a degree that either he won’t be able to take it and he’ll crumble or his ego will swell to galactic proportions, only serving to make his fall that much more dramatic. If you’re really lucky, this process will start after a few solid preseason showings.
Be terrible. You won’t have to try hard here because if you’ve gotten this far—i.e. if you’re the New York Jets—this should happen organically. You’ll be terrible from a distant, macro level, yes. But you might also be terrible on a much more specific level too. Embrace that terribleness.
Blame the QB. Alright, so now that the (poorly attached) wheels have come off and you’re really terrible, whose fault is that? Probably that quarterback who’s supposed to be so great! It can’t be management’s fault because they were smart enough to draft a guy who should be great. It’s definitely the quarterback’s fault for not being great.
Repeat. But don’t worry, there’s probably a freshman QB from West Virginia or the West Coast just itching for their chance to be part of the illustrious Gang Green.
I’d like to offer many thanks to Chad Pennington, Kellen Clemens, Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith without whom this article wouldn’t have been possible. Hey, we can’t all be punters, you know?