INDIANAPOLIS — Rebuild or refurbish?
That is the question lingering over the Jets’ offseason. After a 5-11 season in Year 2 of the Todd Bowles/Mike Maccagnan regime, do they tear it down completely and play the young kids with an eye on the future, or do they continue to patch holes with veterans and chase that elusive playoff berth?
With the NFL Scouting Combine beginning Wednesday, the Jets organization is at a crossroads, and the best paths for Bowles and Maccagnan may be different. Bowles probably needs to go at least 8-8 to save his job, after his first two years as head coach have ended in Week 17. For him, the priority would seem to be the short-term.
General managers usually are given more time on their jobs, so Maccagnan would seem to be focused on the long-term. That would mean going young in 2017 with the players he drafted in 2015, 2016 and those he will draft in two months.
It is an interesting dichotomy the Jets are left with. They tried to remain competitive while rebuilding over the past two years. It worked pretty well in 2015. The team went 10-6, but ultimately failed when it missed the playoffs. Last year? It did not work at all. The Jets went 5-11 and had in-fighting in the locker room.
Bowles and Maccagnan will speak to the media Wednesday afternoon. They usually say very little, so that is the expectation again. But it will be interesting to see if they reveal anything about how they are weighing the long-term vision vs. short-term results.
If they do go with the youth movement, that would underscore the importance of this year’s draft. The Jets have four picks in the top 107, after receiving a compensatory pick in the third round. Maccagnan has to land some Day 1 starters with those four picks.
“Going into this, our focus has always been to build through the draft. I think that’s the best way,” Maccagnan said in January. “You build your foundation of young players going forward. Ideally, you get to a point where you can either determine which players you want to sign from your own of players that have been in your organization for four years or five years, depending on their contracts, or go through free agency. From our standpoint, that’s always been our focus.”
The biggest question about the Jets’ first-round pick — No. 6 overall — is whether they go with a quarterback. It is no secret the Jets still are searching for an answer at the most important position in football, but there are doubts about whether any of the quarterbacks in this draft are worth a top-10 pick. Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson and DeShone Kizer are the top three.
“If you’re asking me whether the Jets at No. 6 should take a quarterback, I would emphatically tell you no,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said this week. “As a matter of fact, I don’t have a top-10 grade on any quarterback in this draft. So I would not be in that conversation.”
The Jets will get an up-close look at those quarterbacks this week, and maybe they will feel differently than Mayock. If not, cornerback, edge rusher, offensive line and safety make plenty of sense for the Jets in the first round.
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