In the 2013 NFL Draft, Idzik had two selections in the first round. As we now know, both of those selections went towards the defensive side of the ball: cornerback Dee Milliner and defensive end Sheldon Richardson. I was among the many Jets fans who poo-pooed Idzik’s second selection, as it did not address the offensive needs of the team. It was almost as if Idzik had not learned the lesson of his predecessor, Mike Tannenbaum. For the past three years, the Jets have taken defensive players in the first round, so what could Idzik possibly have been thinking?
The story all makes sense if you think of Idzik’s strategy as a two-year process. In other words, it will not be until the 2014 NFL draft when his selections make sense. Now, of course, I do not know Idzik personally — I do not go over to his house for barbeques and bring that last-minute bottle of wine as a gift — but this speculation does seem to fit the pieces together. Let’s start with this year’s draft.
“Ok,” Idzik is thinking, “I’ve inherited one of the most incomplete teams in the NFL. What to do?” His answer: clean up the aging and/or overly-paid defense, which he did with the release of players like Bart Scott and Sioune Pouha. Next, trade away your best player (Darrelle Revis) for a cheaper version of him (Milliner) and an additional man up front to give yourself a young defensive front that includes Quinton Coples, Muhammed Wilkerson and now Richardson.
So, in the 2013 season, your defense is going to be growing and cheap for the salary cap, giving you future leverage to have a flashy offseason signing for 2014. In addition, because this will be a throw-away year — don’t throw your fists up at me Jets fans you know it’s true — the young defense can just learn and get better. Now, the offense.
In this year’s second round of the draft, Idzik got Geno Smith at what I believe to be a steal pick. The young quarterback has all the makings of a great player, and he will give opposing defenses the dual threat that Michael Vick, Cam Newton, Colin Kapernick and Robert Griffin III offer. And unless Mark Sanchez improves tremendously this year — which he undoubtedly won’t do because of a hard schedule and lack of offensive weapons — Smith will be the starter Week 1 of the 2014 season at the latest.
And when Smith arrives, he will have the 2014 draft selections to grow with him as a player and help him succeed. Because Idzik attended to the defense early, he will be able to focus all his efforts on picking offensive players in next year’s draft, just in time for Smith to start. And, as mentioned before, he will also have the cap space to add another threat in free agency. In other words, Idzik is taking the Miami Dolphins approach, one which seems to provide a lot of hope for the future.
What the Jets’ organization then has in 2014 is a young team at most positions poised to do nothing but grow and utilize their potential. Idzik never planned a one-hit KO, he planned a two year double-whammy.
Jeremy is a Jets writer for RantSports.com. Follow him/her on Twitter JeremyGoldstei1, “Like” him/her on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.