New York Jets: If Marcus Mariota Is Available He Is Their Man


Here’s a riddle: What do the numbers 4-26, 6, 7 and 32 mean?

There has been a lot of excitement for New York Jets fans since the start of free agency. The signings of cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie along with Buster Skrine and Marcus Gilchrist have revamped their secondary. The trades for wide receiver Brandon Marshall and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and signing of left guard James Carpenter are all upgrades on the offensive side of the ball.

Do all the smiles and excitement mean the Jets are a legitimate playoff contender?


Super Bowl contender?

Definitely not.

With plenty of offseason left, there is still one major lingering question; do the Jets address the quarterback spot through the draft, or enter training camp as is? Which leads us back to our puzzling riddle.

4/26 is day of draft

The New York Jets hold the 6th pick.

Currently the Jets have number 7 Geno Smith as one quarterback on the roster.

32 is the age of newly acquired quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

There is the side that argues the Jets should stay with their current roster. Smith is still young, and surrounding him with more weapons is the remedy to his inconsistent play. He could still develop into a franchise quarterback with the guidance of a new coaching regime. There are other needs to address, and Fitzpatrick is good enough to hold the fort until they are sure Smith is or isn’t their man. Fitzpatrick brings both familiarity and a track record of success in new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey’s scheme. Gailey was Fitzpatrick’s head coach in Buffalo.

On the flipside, others will argue Smith has already shown he can’t be a “franchise quarterback. Two years is a long enough sample. John Idzik drafted him, and the new regime will want their own guy. Fitzpatrick was acquired to give a new quarterback time to develop.

What is the answer?

If available go for the quarterback.

I believe Geno Smith has had enough time; new regime equals new quarterback.

Dec 21, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) scrambles against New England Patriots defensive tackle Alan Branch (97) and defensive end Chandler Jones (95) during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Jets 17-16. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Who is this new quarterback the Jets should draft?

With James Winston a near shoe in to be drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the top pick in the draft that leaves Heisman trophy winner Marcus Mariota, quarterback out of Oregon.

But what if he isn’t a “franchise quarterback?” It would be a major setback for the Jets. A mistake like that at the quarterback position takes years to recover from.

True, but when the opportunity to draft someone who might be “the guy” presents itself, a team has got to take the chance.

In the modern day pass happy offensive NFL, no team is successful in the without at least a competent quarterback. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees are some examples. A great defense combined with a solid running run by a “game manager” type quarterback no longer works. No one knows that better than new head coach Todd Bowles who witnessed the Arizona Cardinals have those problems last season as their defensive coordinator once Carson Palmer went down. They went from potential Super Bowl contender to lucky playoff team.

But what if the Jets aren’t sure? There are questions about Mariota’s ability to adjust to a pro style offense, read defenses, and make calls in the huddle. Don’t those concerns raise enough flags to remove him from consideration?

No it doesn’t.

The truth is no one is ever sure. To be a draft analyst is the most secure job in sports because even if you’re wrong, people listen.

It is all speculation. For every Peyton Manning there is a Ryan Leaf. For every “can’t miss” player like Andrew luck, there is a Jamarcus Russell who is a major bust. Even when opinions are unanimous, there are no guarantees.

Let’s revisit the 1999 NFL draft. The quarterback class was considered by all experts to have the potential to be as good as the 1983 draft class that had hall of famers John Elway, Dan Marino, and Jim Kelly.

Here is a list of the five quarterbacks drafted in the first round that year.

  1. Tim Couch (1st overall Cleveland Browns)
  2. Donovan McNabb (2nd overall Philadelphia Eagles)
  3. Akili Smith (3rd overall Cincinatti Bengals)
  4. Duante Culpepper (10th overall Minnesota Vikings)
  5. Cade Mcnown (12th overall Chicago Bears)

Do any of these players match up to Elway, Marino, or Kelly? With the exception of Mcnabb and Culpepper, none of them lasted in the league as starters for more than a few seasons. The point is that every draft pick is a gamble. Every player comes with strengths, weaknesses, and question marks. In a league where a team needs a star quarterback to succeed, when the opportunity presents itself, has got to take the risk. The Jets need to take this risk.

Next: Who Could New York Jets Take In 1st Round In 2015 NFL Draft?

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