Case of the Mondays: Panthers’ bold choice a blueprint for rebuilding Jets

Cam Newton

Got a Case of the Mondays? Fear not! Columnist and TheJetsBlog Podcast co-host Corey Griffin has you covered every Monday morning with thoughts, ideas and opinions about all things Jets.

Corey Griffin, TheJetsBlog.com

After Sunday’s loss in Carolina, the time for a green and white playoff pipe dream has all but come and gone. What was once a roaring fire after the upset win over New Orleans is now a collection of smoldering kindling waiting to be mathematically eliminated

The loss also clinched the Jets’ third straight non-winning season, something that hasn’t happened since a 1994-96 stretch capped by the 1-15 disaster.

Seeking a way back to the relevant and powerful, the Jets would be wise to study Sunday’s opponent – not for their ball-control offense or dominant front-seven, but for the decision the Panthers made roughly 32 months ago.

On that fateful night, in late April 2011, despite drafting Jimmy Clausen in the second round only 12 months before, the Panthers selected a quarterback they believed could deliver a Super Bowl. Given Clausen’s abysmal rookie campaign, the mediocre free-agent quarterback crop and Cam Newton’s turnaround job at Auburn, the decision was an easy one for Carolina. Take the difference-maker at No. 1, give him the job and give Clausen a permanent clipboard.

Let’s be clear, the Jets do not face such an easy choice.

NFL: New York Jets at Carolina PanthersSmith is twice the quarterback Clausen will ever be and the Jets are far from the No. 1 pick – nor should they pay the freight it would take to secure it this spring. But they can still be bold and find the quarterback that will finally change the direction of this franchise.

While Teddy Bridgewater will almost assuredly be off the board before the Jets pick, the 2014 class is littered with talented quarterbacks. Whether you prefer Johnny Manziel’s exciting brand of improvisational football or Derek Carr’s rocket arm, there will be plenty of options to choose from in rounds one through three in May.

This is not to say that Geno Smith will never be a winning quarterback. He may very well overcome his turnover propensity and confidence issues and develop into an average to above-average passer, but system quarterbacks don’t win Super Bowls anymore. And, as nice as it is to win nine or 10 games and maybe catch the Patriots sleeping from time to time, this wild card business has gotten old, fast.

Yes, the Jets’ skill position talent the past three seasons has bordered on an abomination, but not once did I see a quarterback who improved the play of those around him. Would Geno suddenly stop staring down his receivers if he had Reggie Wayne instead of David Nelson? Would he finally be able to read a corner blitz if Jimmy Graham were the Jets’ tight end?

There are simply too many mental lapses, too many issues with mechanics that date back to his college days and too many fundamental problems to think of Geno as anything other than a placeholder until the Jets find “the next guy.” Why wait another year or two if it’s already apparent now?

In a league that rewards bold decisions, the Panthers opted not to wait. It took them two-plus seasons to reach the upper echelon, but Newton’s ability to impact games with his skill alone made the waiting passable.

If Newton, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick are the epitome of what a young quarterback should be – Geno Smith ain’t them. Despite having the physical tools to play on their level, he lacks the accuracy and, thus far, the decision-making to reach that plateau. Maybe if Smith had sat and learned like Kaepernick or Aaron Rodgers, things might’ve been different, but the Jets don’t deal in “ifs.” The NFL is a world where cold, hard truth rules and nothing is guaranteed.

The Jets could go the free-agent route, overpaying for Jay Cutler or rolling the dice on Michael Vick’s health, but what good would that do the Jets in the long run? This isn’t about finding success in 2013. It’s about building what John Idzik promised when he was hired as general manager – a consistent winner, which is something the Jets haven’t been in a very long time, maybe ever.

Yes, drafting a quarterback in May would be admitting the Smith pick was a mistake, but there’s no use in leaving the egg on your face just to avoid having to wipe it off in front of the class.

Accepting mediocrity to avoid being called a failure is no way to go through life. And it’s no way to run an NFL franchise.

Idzik would be wise to heed that lesson before deciding what to do this offseason.


Corey works for NBCSports.com as an editor and can be reached at @cgriffin415 on Twitter or by email at thejetsblogpodcast@gmail.com.

36 comments
beerfinger
beerfinger

I don't see why the Jets shouldn't trade up for the #1 pick. They've got plenty to trade. I am sick on taking chances on QB's. Bridgewater is everything Sanchez & Geno are not: he is accurate, makes good decisions, and he can read the field properly. Anyone can be a gunslinger. For me, it's Bridgwater or bust.


Also, didn't Manziel decide to forgo this years' draft?

beerfinger
beerfinger

I am so sick of reading the Peyton Manning excuse: "even Peyton threw 28 interceptions his rookie year." PEOPLE: Peyton Manning was drafted FIRST OVERALL. In his rookie season, yes he threw 28 INT's, but he also had 26 TD passes. Geno has 10. Peyton was the exception to the rule, when it comes to QB's who threw a lot of INT's in their rookie seasons and turned out to be world beaters. Brady threw 12. Rodgers threw 13. Brees threw 16. Luck threw 18. Big Ben threw 11. Rivers threw 9. RGIII threw 5. Wilson threw 10. Kaepernick threw 3. Cam Newton threw 17. Eli threw 17.


All of them, except Peyton who had 26 TD's, had more TD's than INT's.


Geno's on pace to throw 26 INT's against 11 TD's. The closes comparison to that is not Peyton Manning. Not by a long shot. IT'S MARK SANCHEZ!!!

frustjetfn
frustjetfn

I couldn't agree more and I've been saying it too. Although I think you're preaching to the choir on this blog b/c we follow the team closest, I urge all of us to keep saying it. Why? Because if the Jets don't listen they'll blow off the next decade with pathetic excuses.


I'm going to guess that perennially successful franchises will pick this QB-deep draft clean despite having existing franchise QB's in place. For example, I predict Pittsburgh will select a QB even though Big Ben still has a few good years left. The reason teams like the Steelers are successful is because they prepare for the future. Metaphorically, some GM's see the train coming, hear the whistle, feel the vibration and jump off the track while other GM's are checking for holes in their pants, ensuring their butt is covered and get flattened. - So lets hope Idzik is not covering his draft pick butt with Geno, while the Jets get flattened.

Anthony Capp
Anthony Capp

I CAN NOT WAIT to have a Quarterback someday who THROWS PEOPLE OPEN. It's something us Jets fans have not seen for over 5 years now

Anthony Capp
Anthony Capp

I LOVE this piece, its so accurate and true! I use the Clausen comparison all the time to explain what the Jets need to do and you hit the nail on the head. I am a senior at WVU and watched Geno play his entire career first hand. I never once thought he could be a good NFL quarterback. College, decent. He would dominate the bad teams and disappear for stretches even quarters of a time with bad reads, sacks from holding onto the ball too long, and 3 and outs. The same can be said about his rookie year on the Jets. Yes, he doesn't have much talent or a great line, but Geno is what Geno is. Average, or even a bit below. Yes he has a killer arm and has shown flashes at times, but the consistency and the reads are not there. How many times can he slide the protection the wrong way and not seen the backside corner blitz? Or stare down a receiver play after play and have it jumped for another pick 6. If he's been doing this since he started playing QB in college and continues to now, will he ever stop? Heading into the draft I was praying they wouldn't draft him but at the second round value I can't really argue that they did. Like this article suggests, I just hope they realize what they have and in the second or third round target a QB in this QB deep draft. WIth 12 picks we can absolutley afford to use one on a quarterback. Geno deserves to stay on the team of course and deserves a full offseason with the chance to compete, but Geno is not our guy and I've known that first hand for years now. I can only hope that John Idzik and the Jets management is thinking this way right now because like the article states there is nothing wrong with getting another quarterback because Geno was a second round pick! If he was our first rounder, that'd be another story and would obviously be much harder to sit here and argue to draft another one. Geno of course has potential and we've seen it, but take it from me, a guy who has seen him play live and analyzed his play for 4 years now, that what you are seeing now from him is really all he is capable of. That being said I have faith as always in the Jets organization to do the right thing, GO JETS

Jim Welker
Jim Welker

Smith is terrible. He has twice as many picks as TD passes. Can we play Simms? We need to see what we got in Simms before the draft.

ww85
ww85

Idzik came from Seattle, so wouldn't the Seahawks be a more likely blueprint? Draft another QB & bring in someone perceived as competent to compete. Then again, Idzik has Garrard on the roster, so maybe he had nothing to do with Seattle's success?

a57se
a57se

OK, I think the Jets are gonna let Landry, Cro, Harris and Pace walk this off-season as well as Holmes, Winslow and Colon on offense.

I think they will draft WR's, a TE, a RB, LB's, Safeties, CB's with their 12 picks and fill a few cheap spots in FA while tying up Howard and Wilkerson for the long term. they will play an even larger amount of Rookies in 2014 while letting Geno play to see if he can improve.

If things go as planned, they will be sitting pretty in 2015 to draft Famous Jameis and launch a new era of NY Jets Football!

Kevin Hurd
Kevin Hurd

If you draft another QB and surround him with zero offensive weapons, you will get same results as last 3 seasons.  QB is not the problem.  I'm not saying Sanchez or Geno are Peyton Manning but they can both be serviceable if they had good players around them.  Sanchez proved that his first 2 seasons.  Geno's season essentially mirrored Sanchez's last 2 with the exception that he can run.  Draft an explosive receiver already.  If an explosive receiver is not available when we pick, I'll settle for a receiver who can catch the ball.

Randy Wilson
Randy Wilson

Not that anyone cares, but might as well show the only scenario remaining:


Jets win over Browns/Dolphins

Ravens lose to Lions/Patriots/Bengals

Dolphins lose to Bills

Chargers lose to Raiders/Chiefs

Steelers lose to either Green Bay or Cleveland


Sad but still there anyway. Might as well root for those scenarios until one of them officially ends.



David B. MD
David B. MD

I think I understand where you are coming from Corey, but being impatient with QBs is not going to help solve this. QB is a crap shoot.  How many true superstars are around? Not many.  The biggest jump in difficulty per position from College to NFL has to be the QB position.  Geno was beyond raw coming into the league just based on the system he played in college. 


Clausen had a lot experience in college playing in an pro style system. He stank. I believe he also got to play with Steve Smith and  few good running backs.  What does Geno have?


Geno has had a lot of experience in a spread offense.  There is a learning period.  Yes he stinks. But its not like he even had Kerley for a whole season, and lord knows what Holmes does most of the time--complain about playing I think.


Assuming the next guy out there is going to be another Luck, Wilson, RG3 is nutty.  Even Peyton Manning had 27 Ints as a rookie or something.


The Panthers also had the #1 pick--makes the decision a bit easier.  Jets won't be in that situation.  


Even Cam Newton has had his nay-sayers the past few years. Didn't the Nolan Norwarki guy rip both Newton AND Geno as being terrible me first people with no leadership skills? Look like Cam Turned out!  He compared Geno to Cam!


Jets thought they had the franchise guy when they traded up to take Sanchez. Go read his draft scouting report and compare it to what he found out in reality. Trading a ton of picks to get Sanchez robbed us of depth and we have too many OTHER positions that need help. Could have had the same headaches with Josh Freeman and more depth to draft with.  Or maybe since Freeman has a better arm and better legs maybe he would have panned out better in this system.


If you aren't FIRST in getting the best QB you are last.  5th round miracles like Brady don't happen very often or it wouldn't be a miracle. When you have several legit #1 picks coming out, its still a crap shoot.Steelers passed on Marino (hometown hero) to take someone that was a bust. Elway refused to play for the Colts.


I'm ok with Jets taking a later pick perhaps on Aaron Murray if he comes out (ACL tear) let him rehab and maybe they get a steal. But I think you give Geno at least one more season before you move on. I mean taking him in the 2nd round is a lot easier than a 1st round pick anyway.





BILLY
BILLY

There is no way Idzik drafts a QB early. 


He likes to stick with his draft picks, thus: Winters, Milliner and Smith starting, and Campbell/Aboushi still on active roster. And he will preach competition, too, while favoring his own guys. 

Fartrell Cluggins
Fartrell Cluggins

Brilliant analysis. Why didn't the Jets think of getting the #1 pick and taking a can't-miss, Heisman Trophy winner QB?! It's so simple! Geno certainly has his warts, but he's shown enough promise that you don't take a QB with your 2014 1st. You get him and Marty some weapons and fortify the line b/c it's impossible to properly evaluate Geno with the guys he's throwing to or him always on his back. If there's a QB you like in the 3rd or 4th round that you think is good value, go for it. But you have to spend at least 2 of your first 3 picks on WR/TE or else the next QB will be in the same unfair predicament Geno is in.

bharper42
bharper42

I'd like David Carr drafted.  I really wouldn't mind that at all.  Or if they could pull off a trade for someone decent.  But who's this decent qb via trade?


Whatever happens there has to be imo at least 3 playmakers brought in 2 wr, 1 te.  Kerley is nice but is only a 3.  All the rest have to be cut.


ivory, powell are good rbs, bohanon is crap.  


really need a full offensive draft and FA off season.  


This abominable offense can't continue.  Another strike on rex imo.

lrjets
lrjets

Not sure if it was mentioned, but with 78 yards at the half, why didn't  Ivory have more carries in the second half?   Eleven touches for the game?

Even Sparano would be ashamed of that ground and pound?

-Lloyd (before this livefyre)

__fense
__fense

At some point in the last few months everyone fooled themselves into thinking that you can tell anything about a draft pick after their rookie year. The evaluation period went from 3 years to 3 games. 

SackDance99
SackDance99

The West Coast offense as developed by MM needs certain components to run successfully, no matter who the QB is.  I can't fairly evaluate how Geno could run MM's WCO because the Jets don't have a Westbrook/McCoy type of versatile and speedy RB that excels in the passing game, a TE that can attack the seems opened up by the WCO and the mix of superior route runners and deep threats at WR that MM had in Philly.  So, Corey asks the question about whether having a fully developed offense would change Geno.


Of course it would.  Would Munnerlyn blitz leaving DeSean Jackson uncovered?  Would Geno look more confident knowing a dump off to McCoy could end up as a TD?  I'm not making a "pieces" argument; I'm making a offensive system argument.  Geno could have mass reserves of untapped talent as the guy that drives the offense, but we'd never know as long as he's driving an offense that's like a car with 3 wheels and no pistons.  Sure, if the Jets have the ability to draft someone like Newton in the draft they'd be foolish not to, but it's far more important if MM sticks around to build out his system.  Only then will we know, for sure, whether Geno or Simms has what it takes.


Last point, this is not the time for a coaching change.  Rex is building out a superb young defense and MM is trying to build out his offense.  Cleaning house means starting over and if Rex and his coaching team can get 7 or 8 wins out of this team, what could they do with even an average MM offense?  I pay a lot for my season tickets and I'd pay to see that...I'll still likely pay for a re-build, but like Woody Johnson, I won't be happy.

joemustgo
joemustgo

Why do so many people think Geno would have been better off sitting behind Sanchez or another vet? Where is the evidence that a young QB learns more from the bench than on the field? Cam started from day 1, he didn't sit behind Clausen or another placeholder. As long as Geno doesn't get hurt or have his confidence shattered, which so far hasn't happened, he'll either figure things out faster or the Jets will figure out he's not the answer.

jaym
jaym

How long did it take Cam Newton to be where he is today? Problem with all fans (and the author) is that they want super stars as soon as they enter the NFL

Bigfoo7
Bigfoo7

@Anthony Capp Great perspective. You are absolutely right that they had to take a chance in the second. It's just to bad it didn't work out. He was the best we had available, for many different reasons, in a rebuilding year that could have been a playoff year. Time to reevaluate and move on. If he is our best option again next year than he should play. I sure hope we can improve much more that that at this position but no one is a sure thing. 


Thanks for the post!

a57se
a57se

@Anthony Capp 

Well where the heck have you been the last 6 months? 

I've been saying the same thing and been getting called a racist and Geno hater!

DarrolRayFanClub
DarrolRayFanClub

@Jim Welker And if Simms throws a pick on his next throw, he too will have twice as many as TD passes. Then what?

jma020
jma020

@a57se Hope so. We always seem to be bad, never quite bad enough.

joemustgo
joemustgo

@a57seWhatever else Idzik does, I would like him to draft A) a stud TE and B) someone who can cover the opponent's TE. We haven't had either since I can remember.

ww85
ww85

@David B. Feig MD Murray would be an interesting pick.  Tannehill, Wilson, Foles were nowhere near the top QBs in their class but all performing great. 

marshrandy
marshrandy

@BILLY anyone he drafts this year will also be one of his draft picks 

BILLY
BILLY

@Fartrell Cluggins What promise have you seen from Geno? He has ONE game in which he threw more TDS than INTS, and that was 10 weeks ago. And since then he's thrown 3 TDs and turned the ball over 14 times. 

Bent
Bent

@lrjets He only had one carry in the last 11 minutes, but then that last 11 minutes was where the game got away from them and they had to start passing.  

DarrolRayFanClub
DarrolRayFanClub

@jaym Also, he was  #1 overall. 


Yeah, it' ridiculous. Saying that things might have been different for Geno if he sat and learned like the successful young QBs, then turning around and saying in the next sentence that he sees no long-term reason for bringing in a veteran that could bridge us through that learning curve just about sums up the dichotomy of this writing. So, if you think rushing Geno was a mistake, your solution is to draft a new QB every year until one can handle being rushed? How about drafting a high ceiling QB that only drops in the draft because he might need time (like Sanchez and Geno were) AND getting a veteran that can be a stopgap/potential rebound candidate, like Schaub? Geno and the new QB can sit and watch, better long-term for them and the franchise, and maybe Schaub (or Cutler if you want to allocate that $$) takes a huge step themselves like Testaverde did in 1998.

Rahim Samad
Rahim Samad

@jaym  I agree with you. Even Peyton Manning Stared down his wrs his 1st year. Thus why he threw all those picks. We need weapons. With a ton of cap space going into next season and even more with Cro, Sanchez , Holmes, and Goodson it's virtually insane. Btw Cro making 14.5 mill next season if the owner aint wanna pay the best cb in football 15-16 mill no way he's paying cro 14.5. Get this kid some weapons and fix the line then we will see what this kid is made of. If he fails you got everyting in place to draft a qb in 2015.

Anthony Capp
Anthony Capp

@a57se @Anthony Capp well i just hope people can understand that I've seen it all from him the last 4 years, every snap he's taken, and nothing changes. He had a few crazy games like against Baylor where he had around 600 yds and 7 TD's but then against decent teams like Kansas State, Syracuse, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, he literally would not move the ball and hold the ball forever and that was with Austin and Bailey who were great receivers. Of course he has positives but I know this isn't our guy, like you do from what you've said, but it's only fair to give him a chance with some weapons and an improved line and a full offseason. That doesn't mean they cant draft or bring someone in to compete though. In fact, it would probably get the most out of him so they could really see what they have in him. 

Fartrell Cluggins
Fartrell Cluggins

@BILLY@Fartrell Cluggins He's a dual-threat QB with a cannon for an arm and 4 game-winning drives. He's definitely been brutal to watch at times, but please don't act like he's done nothing positive this season. The point is even if Geno isn't the answer, you still can't properly evaluate a QB if he's throwing the ball to a WR corps led by Jeremy Kerley and David Nelson. Whether it's Geno or someone else under center next season, he'll be doomed to fail if we don't upgrade at WR/TE.

Bytor
Bytor

@DarrolRayFanClub @jaym Yep, this should be the plan. Sign Hill/McCown/Schaub/Vick to be your starter. This way you're replacing Geno with a veteran and not the high-ceiling draft pick. Free agency and draft should be focused on offense with some d sprinkled in for depth. Poof, a team with a chance.