Guest Column: Jets Fandom is a Flat Circle ... by Brian Bassett

“Why should I live in history, huh? Fuck, I don’t want to know anything anymore. This is a world where nothing is solved. You know, someone once told me time is a flat circle. Everything we’ve ever done, or will do, we’re gonna do over and over and over again. And that new Jets quarterback, they’re gonna be in that Jets media room introductory press conference again. And again. And again. Forever." - Brian “Rust Cohle” Bassett

Like Rust, I know I’ve done this before. And like Rust, I believe we’re gonna to be here again. And again. And again. Forever.

While Rust’s flat circle might be inexorable, it doesn’t account for the notion that I’m not the same person each time that flat circle came back around.

A plucky young Bassett hoped that some flat-haired quarterback named Chad Pennington would bring the team to the promised land.

A wiser — and more metrics-aware — Bassett dreaded the Mark Sanchez days wouldn’t end well when they traded up on draft day. Bassett melted down on video much to Soup’s pleasure crossing 6th Avenue en route to SNY’s Studios from Radio City Music Hall.

A now jaded Bassett watched in cold calculation as the Jets lit their hair on fire and took a ride on the Genocoaster.

Thanks to the cares of fatherhood and a soul-crushing job nearing closure at IBM, burning a second round pick on Christian Hackenberg brought on a nearly fatal apoplexia for care-worn Bassett.

And now, with the third overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, that flat circle takes me back to the same point again. And again. And again. Forever.

But what am I this time? Will the Jets finally find their salvation? Will it even matter?

Damn Bassett! You’ve taken the darkest timeline! What happened to you?

Life happened. Loss happened. Love happened. Kids happened. Finding brotherhood happened. More meaning to life happened.

The stakes got higher in other facets of life.

Context fucking happened.

I don’t think I’m darker, I just think that the rises and falls impact my moods less than they once did. Time was, my wife knew to steer clear of me for the evening after a Jets loss. Nowadays? There are three adorable little pigpens to get scrubbed up and tucked into bed. Work calendars need to be synched. Pennies need to be pinched. The wife doesn’t abide my bitching when it’s been a long day with the kids and I’ve been out watching the Jets.

The Jets lost to a dead-eyed Cardinals team? Sorry babe. You’ve been day-drinking with friends while I’ve contended with the kids. Oh and the trash needs to go out.

Do I still care deeply? Do I still obsess over who might be the team’s sixth receiver or seventh defensive back and who will play gunner? Do I still die a little every year come late October when it is clear that this is again not the New York Jets year? Of course I do. One doesn’t write a blog for over ten years about a topic without caring.

It’s just as the responsibilities of my life increased, blogging has had to decrease. I can’t dedicate the same amount of time to writing as I once could. People might not realize that it’s never been my full-time job, it was a hobby and then a side gig.

I guess having other more pressing concerns makes me no different than the actual owner of the team, right? Guess that puts me in good (or maybe the worst) company. 😢

Why Game Theory Matters

I was impressed with Maccagnan’s first year as the GM of the Jets; Macc racked up some serious interest in Bassett’s First National Bank of Does This Guy Know What the Hell He’s Doing?. Since then, there’s been a long and steady drain on that account, which is why so much hinges on what Macc does next week.

Whatever one thinks about the Jets trading up to the third pick, it’s done now and like Rust Cohle we’re coming back around on that flat circle. Whatever happens, happens and it’s irrelevant to believe staying at six was the right decision.

In all seriousness here’s some of my reasoning on why moving up was a good move for the Jets.

For over two years, this draft class has been anticipated as a mine of quarterbacking gems. The irony for teams who sat out on Carson Wentz and Jared Goff is that maybe they shouldn’t have waited. But the NFL is nothing if not a league of knockoff coaches and GMs and the early statistical compilations of Winston, Wentz, Goff and Mariota has only emboldened them to think they can do likewise. Seeing the quarterback talent this year is like copycat-nip to front offices.

The Bills and Dolphins got frozen out by the Jets

If there were two teams who were most thwarted by the Jets' trade with the Colts, it has to be Buffalo and Miami. Both teams have dire quarterback needs and have been sniffing around potential trade scenarios to move themselves up.

The fact that both are in the AFC East only sweetens the pot for the Jets. “TB12” is now 40 years old and has slowed down at the end of the last two seasons. Brady is even reportedly wavering on his previous claim of playing until he’s 45. The Patriots have been focused on the succession to the throne … owner Robert Kraft publicly stated as much. Belichick might be the greatest coach of all time, but is becoming the physical embodiment of hubris.

The rest of the AFC East has spent 15 years waiting out the Patriots. Has there been a better time to place a dagger to throat of the Kings of the AFC East? The Colts trade ensures that Jets are the closest to the King’s table. Dilly dilly!

The Jets called the Browns’ bluff on taking a QB at the No. 1 spot

Leading up to the Colts-Jets trade, there was surprising amount of talk about the Browns not using their first pick on a quarterback. With five or six potential first rounders and only the Giants and Colts following the Browns before their second pick at the No. 4 spot, the Browns probably felt pretty confident about their first choice making it back to them.

The Jets trading into the one spot least likely to take a quarterback in the top five throws a crowbar into the draft gears for the Browns. Do they still have the courage of their convictions to risk waiting until the fourth pick? Unlikely, especially with the Dolphins, Bills and others sniffing around the top five.

The Jets move has forced the Browns into a decision point. As I read the situation, the best outcome for the Jets would be that the Browns take Josh Allen at the top, but more on that later.

A Free Square for the Jets and an (Albeit Very Unlikely) Out

With the Colts having traded their pick, the Giants are now the new Colts in that they are the next most likely team who wouldn’t use an early draft pick on quarterback based on the presence of Eli Manning. Personally, I think it would be a mistake for the Giants to pass on a quarterback at No. 2, but there are strong indications that they would do just that by taking Saquon Barkley.

I love Barkley, but I don’t value him over a franchise-altering quarterback and whoever they could find at an uber-talented running back position on Day Three where starter quality running backs will still be available. If the Giants do take Barkley, I’ll consider that a free square for the Jets when it comes to selecting a quarterback. Allen, then Barkley would be the optimal scenario for the Jets at No. 3 as it would leave Rosen, Darnold and Mayfield all available to the Jets.

While every indication is that the Jets will take their quarterback at the third overall pick, is there another scenario that could play out? What if the Jets top two options are off the board by the third pick and they don’t feel as confident in their third choice? What if they like someone slightly further down? Could the Jets trade back? It’s extremely unlikely but shouldn’t be entirely ruled out.

The value of the offer would have to surpass what the Jets gave to move up. And in a draft-day scenario with general managers and owners on tilt to get “their guy” the Jets spot could be irresistible if the first two picks do in fact go Allen-Barkley.

The Jets MUST address the franchise quarterback position as Maccagnan and Bowles will likely never get as good a chance as this again. But with Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater under manageable contracts, if they wanted to fall back for a player like Lamar Jackson? I wouldn’t fault them for it.

Top QBs I’d be Devastated the Jets Didn’t Pick Power Rankings

There’s quarterbacks I can live with, quarterbacks I can’t live without and quarterbacks I’d have no idea what to do with. As Drew in his boorish yet eloquent way explains:

Here’s my countdown of the five quarterbacks most likely to go in the first round of the Draft. Rather than presume I know what I am talking about in terms of scouting talent, I’ve ranked the quarterbacks on a scale of “who would I be most bummed about if the Jets didn’t pick them?”

#5 Josh Allen

I’m not good enough to chase statistical outliers like Ben Roethlisberger or Carson Wentz — ironically two of the comps that show up on Josh Allen’s Mockdraftable page. Allen is the consummate Five Tool Player that scouts lick their chops over. Height, size, athleticism, throw velocity … from a measurements standpoint it’s all there. Where it begins to get ragged for Allen is when you look at his efficiency. It took Allen until age 20 to break out in the Mountain West and his QBR and Yards Per Attempt are abysmal in that context. Probabilities define possibilities and if Allen couldn’t tear up the Mountain West, how will he fare against NFL defenses?

Scouts (like Browns GM John Dorsey) love to project what he could be as opposed to what quants (like Browns Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta) observe what he’s already proven himself to be. Team staff are optimists about their own coaching and think that they can be the ones to harness this player. That staff might not be wrong, but it is an arrogant road to travel from a self-scouting perspective.

To drive home that point, the Brock Osweiler comp on Josh Allen’s Player Profiler page is chilling. Size plus throwing velocity can equal Andrew Luck, or it can equal Blaine Gabbert.

The unknown variable which swings the equation from Luck to Gabbert is college efficiency. College breakout age, college QBR and college Yards Per Attempt matter. I wish Josh Allen the best, but I wish him the best with another team. I’m OK losing out on him becoming the Big Ben 2.0 somewhere else, because I see the downside as far too likely. If Allen winds up with the Jets I could see him becoming a more costly version of Christian Hackenberg … AKA Brock Osweiler.

Devastation Rating: I’d like to go to the moon, but I’m glad we avoided that rocket ship ride.

#4 Lamar Jackson

Let me be clear in saying that I’d be happy for the Jets to pick Lamar Jackson in the first round, but NOT at the third overall pick of the draft. Jackson has the tools, was precociously productive at Louisville and is a tantalizing athlete, evident by his sub-4.4 40 time.

No one is mocking Jackson into the top five, let alone the top ten. There were reports that teams are interested in Jackson running wide receiver drills. Should the Jets be able to trade down a bit, stockpile some picks and still land Jackson I could be content. Jackson might not be ready to start right now, but considering the Jets have McCown and Bridgewater for 2018 they can buy Jackson time.

Devastation Rating: Dear tiny infant Jesus, anyone but the Patriots.

#3 Josh Rosen

Many scouts agree that Josh Rosen might be the second-best pure quarterback in this class, but there are worries about Rosen that have nothing to do with (fake news) leadership concerns. According to NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah, Josh Rosen might be the most likely slider of the top quarterbacks. From a pure mechanics perspective, many love Rosen’s skills, but worry about Rosen’s shoulder injury and concussions (he had two last year) as he moves into the NFL. Add in Rosen has not been overwhelmingly efficient as a collegiate player and I’m fine landing Rosen in my third overall spot.

Devastation Rating: He has the skill to start for a long time, but the injury concerns slow my roll.

#2 Sam Darnold

Darnold is widely considered the most polished and best overall quarterback prospect in this class. This is all the more interesting when you consider that he’s also set to become one of the (presumed) youngest starting quarterbacks ever in the NFL. Darnold exploded onto the scene early at USC and was efficient with above average QBR and Yards Per Attempt. While he doesn’t possess otherworldly athleticism, his other talents compensate well. The Jets could do a lot worse with the third overall pick.

Devastation Rating: It would be hard to not land as sure a thing as Sam Darnold appears to be.

#1 Baker Mayfield

Sorry, not sorry.

Mayfield is my guy and seems to be the consensus pick for the Jets across platforms not named ESPN. Beyond concerns about his swagger, the big knock on Mayfield is his physical measurements. I believe if Baker Mayfield was two inches taller, he would be the consensus first overall pick. I also wonder if his circuitous route to Oklahoma is taken into account. Granted, Mayfield doesn’t have optimal height, but Player Profiler’s closest comp for Mayfield is Drew Brees. A quick check of Mayfield's Mockdraftable page, a site which focuses more on measurements than efficiency makes Mayfield’s profile look grim. Despite being an average athlete Mayfield has

  • The early breakout age I crave.
  • A NOOICE Yards Per Attempt indicating he is an efficient thrower to all quadrants.
  • Elite throwing velocity … which everyone slobbers over when talking about Josh Allen.
  • That “it” factor New Yorkers will eat up … at least until he does something rash.

Devastation Rating: But Mayfield to Enunwa has such a nice ring to it!

And just remember, as I keep telling myself, if we don’t pick my guy this time Good Ol’ Rust Cohle would want to remind you that we’ll get the chance to get it right over and over and over again.