In the spring of 2017, I reached out to Jets season-ticket holders and asked them a series of questions about the direction of the team. One of those questions was what they thought of the job general manager Mike Maccagnan was doing.
There was a response that made me chuckle and has been in the back of my head this season.
“Find me a quarterback and I’ll put a statue of him on my front lawn,” Kevin Wetherell, a season-ticket holder since 1992 from Cranford, N.J., wrote.
Kevin might need to get his chisel out.
It appears Maccagnan and the Jets have found a quarterback. Now, these things can sometimes change. The Redskins thought they had one in Robert Griffin III and that went south. But from all indications, Sam Darnold is going to be a very good quarterback.
The Jets’ loss to the Texans on Saturday night felt like a win in many ways. It was impossible to walk away from MetLife Stadium and not be impressed with what young Darnold showed. It looked like the game slowed down for the 21-year-old. He was poised, unflappable and able to make plays with both his arm and his legs. The touchdown drives in the second and fourth quarters were works of art.
That brings me back to Maccagnan. The general manager’s job security has been a topic of discussion lately. It appears coach Todd Bowles is going to be fired at season’s end, but the feeling around the Jets has been that Maccagnan will survive. That has been met by some pushback from Jets fans who see plenty of misses in the draft by Maccagnan over four years as GM and a roster that still has more holes than a bad Hollywood script.
My counterargument in favor of keeping Maccagnan is Darnold. Maccagnan may have pulled off a feat that no other Jets GM has been able to in decades. It looks like he landed a franchise quarterback.
Yes, Ken O’Brien had his moments. Yes, Chad Pennington was on his way before he wrecked his shoulder. Mark Sanchez teased, and even Geno Smith had a night in Atlanta that made you wonder. But Darnold looks like he can be special. Texans superstar J.J. Watt found Darnold after the game, pulled him close and told him, “You’re going to be a great pro.”
Now, the football gods did not just drop Darnold here. Maccagnan had a plan that was hatched in early 2017 to target a quarterback in the 2018 draft. He dumped the older players and set upon a rebuild, knowing the 2017 season would be painful. It ended up not being painful enough and the Jets came out of it with the No. 6 pick, just low enough to possibly miss out on their choice of quarterbacks.
Texans showed Jets exactly what Sam Darnold doesn't have
The Jets lost to the Texans 29-22 on Saturday, falling…
Maccagnan made a great trade with the Colts to move up three spots to No. 3, knowing he would at least get one of the three quarterbacks the Jets really liked in the draft — Darnold, Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield. He made that trade without surrendering a future first-round pick, which is a feat when pulling off one of those top-of-the-draft deals. He made the move in mid-March, not wasting any time and allowing the price to go up.
Did he get lucky the Browns went with Mayfield and the Giants took Saquon Barkley? Sure. But that is the draft. The Patriots were lucky no one took Tom Brady in the first 198 picks of the 2000 draft. The Texans were lucky no one picked J.J. Watt in the first 10 selections in 2011. That’s how this works. Maccagnan should not be penalized for it. He should be lauded for putting the Jets in that position in the first place.
Now that Maccagnan has landed his quarterback, he deserves the chance to build around him. The Jets are projected to have $106 million in salary-cap space, according to overthecap.com. They are likely going to have a top-five pick. Let’s see what Maccagnan can do with those resources.
If he does this right, there may be statues of him popping up on front lawns around the tri-state area.