In a couple of days, Jets fans everywhere will tear open presents, knowing that they won’t get the one gift they really wanted. Again.
It’s another year without a Super Bowl. But you knew that already.
It’s another year without a playoff berth. You knew that, too.
But this is the time of year when you can wish and dream and ask for anything. Go ahead. But we already have an idea of what Jets fans want:
A NEW COACH
You never want to see someone lose his or her job. Todd Bowles is a good man who has worked extremely hard and been nothing but professional. He’s done everything the organization asked of him and always protected his players.
But this is a bottom-line business and the Jets have lost at least 10 games in each of the last three years. No other coach in the Jets’ star-crossed history had double-digit defeats in three straight years. When the Jets play Green Bay on Sunday, it probably will be Bowles’ final home game as their coach.
The Jets have lost seven of eight and four straight at home. They continue to play hard, so give Bowles credit for that, but it would be surprising if he is retained.
THE RIGHT COACH
You’ve heard the debate: Should the Jets hire someone with head-coaching experience or take a chance on a coordinator/assistant head coach on a contender who might be ready to take the leap?
The Jets went the latter way with Bowles, Rex Ryan, Eric Mangini and Herman Edwards. Let’s stick with current or former head coaches for now.
A legitimate candidate already is available in former Packers coach Mike McCarthy. He has head-coaching experience and a Super Bowl championship and is an offensive mind who can help quarterback Sam Darnold. Sure, McCarthy had issues with Aaron Rodgers at the end, but he should be high on the Jets’ list if Bowles doesn’t return.
John Harbaugh is someone who would have warranted strong consideration if he and the Ravens parted, but the team said Friday that Harbaugh will return in 2019.
Bruce Arians would be a very good choice. A former head coach considered a great offensive mind, he could bring out the best in Darnold. But Arians is a friend and mentor of Bowles, so he might not be interested out of respect for the current coach.
To end their playoff drought at eight years, the Jets need Darnold to make a giant leap next year. He has shown growth, but he could make a big jump in his second season with the right coaching. (See: Carson Wentz, Jared Goff.)
That said, Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley could be in the mix either as a head coach or coordinator.
The Jets need someone who can help Darnold become the franchise-changing quarterback they believe he can be.
A LEAD BACK
To be a playoff team next year, the Jets need a playmaking back to take some pressure off Darnold. The top available back out there is Le’Veon Bell, who would be a game-changer if the Jets were able to sign him.
They will have about $100 million available for free agency. Money shouldn’t be a problem, and Bell — who sat out the 2018 season because of a contract dispute with the Steelers — wants to get paid.
Other options to pair with developing backs Elijah McGuire and Trenton Cannon include Tevin Coleman, Peyton Barber, Mike Davis, Alex Collins, Latavius Murray, Alfred Blue or Gus Edwards.
A NO. 1 RECEIVER
Darnold needs people to catch the ball. Of his three top receivers, Quincy Enunwa and Jermaine Kearse will be unrestricted free agents and Robby Anderson will be a restricted free agent. Enunwa and Anderson could return. Both are good players, but neither has shown he can consistently be a No. 1 receiver.
The free-agent pool isn’t great. Golden Tate, Randall Cobb, Devin Funchess, Tyrell Williams, Donte Moncrief and John Brown are among the more intriguing wideouts. The Jets could draft a receiver whom they believe can become a No. 1 or try to trade for one.
When you draft a franchise quarterback, he need to be protected. Despite some snapping problems and injuries, this year’s offensive line has been better than expected, but upgrading the unit needs to be a main focus.
Depending on where the Jets end up drafting, Alabama’s Jonah Williams could be a target. Otherwise, Darryl Williams, Trent Brown, Bobby Massie, Ja’Wuan James and Roger Saffold should be top free-agent linemen.
AN EDGE RUSHER
This continues to be a glaring weakness, and the Jets could address that void in the draft and free agency.
If they end up with the No. 1 pick — there’s still a chance of that happening, and this is on many Jets fans’ wish list as well — Ohio State’s Nick Bosa, Joey’s brother, would the no-brainer selection. If they pick two through six, Michigan’s Rashan Gary, Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell and Kentucky’s Josh Allen should be in play.
With DeMarcus Lawrence, Jadeveon Clowney, Trey Flowers, Dee Ford, Frank Clark, Shaq Barrett and Ezekiel Ansah hitting the market, this is an area in which the Jets should spend big money in free agency.
The Jets want and need a lot. But at least they can take a quarterback off their wish list.