New York Jet football fans were mostly frustrated with their first win of the 2020 season beating the LA Rams 23-20. Looking for long term stability built around a generational quarterback like Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence would have put the Jets in a position to finally challenge the AFC East hierarchy with the hope of making it to the Super Bowl sooner rather than later. The best intended plans were stopped cold as the 17 point favorite Rams were manhandled at the line of scrimmage for three quarters and when it seemed like the Rams finally scored, puff, it was gone. In typical Jet fashion late fourth quarter penalties negated the go ahead score for the Rams as did a touchdown saving tackle by Jet punter Braden Mann which will become the tackle that lives in infamy should Trevor Lawrence light up the NFL and eventually get into the Hall of Fame. After watching the Jets blow the win against the Las Vegas Raiders two weeks ago, Jet fans witnessed the team blow the loss this past Sunday. Fans stampeded phone lines with calls to sports radio shows filled with frustration, agony and misery. I even heard one Jet fan say how he went outside into his car alone after the win and cried just so his kids didn’t have to witness him in that condition. Like most Jet and football fans I watched how Clemson outclassed Notre Dame the day before with Trevor Lawrence passing 25-36 for 322 yards 2 TDs 1 INT and also running 14 times for 90 yards and 1 TD. “Just dominating” I thought as I went to bed smiling figuring like everyone else nothing could go wrong unless Bill Belichick screws us the last game of the season. But of course it was not to be. On the surface Trevor Lawrence looks like he is a generational talent. He measures 6’6” and weighs 220 lbs. I have seen only few who have looked as good as him. Coincidently two of them were in last year’s draft. Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert. But is everyone jumping the gun calling him a can’t miss generational talent? Or am I writing this piece trying to convince myself as a Jet fan since 1964 that there can be success without Trevor Lawrence?
If you start at the 1989 season, let’s see how many first picks of the draft that were quarterbacks were considered “generational.” Here we go:
1989-Troy Aikman 2007-JaMarcus Russel
1990-Jeff George 2009-Matthew Stafford
1993-Drew Bledsoe 2010-Sam Bradford
1998-Peyton Manning 2011-Cam Newton
1999-Tim Couch 2012-Andrew Luck
2001-Michael Vick 2015-Jameis Winston
2002-David Carr 2016-Jared Goff
2003-Carson Palmer 2018-Baker Mayfield
2004-Eli Manning 2019-Kyler Murray
2005-Alex Smith 2020-Joe Burrow
I started when I did because it is about this time (1990’s) that rule changes were starting to benefit the offense and quarterbacks. There are 20 total quarterbacks listed. Out of them, I see only 2 what I would consider generational talents. I would say Payton Manning and Andrew Luck who retired early and never won a Super Bowl. Peyton Manning, Eli Manning and Troy Aikman are the only quarterbacks on the list to have won a Super Bowl since 1989. The last three on the list, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Joe Burrow have a shot but the sample size is way too small. I consider Troy Aikman and Eli Manning very good quarterbacks but in not the same league as Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. Taking nothing away from the Hall of Fame Aikman, but he was very fortunate to be surrounded by multiple All-Pros. Eli Manning is another good quarterback who won two Super Bowls but not in the same class as his brother and Luck. When you look at the list of Super Bowl winning quarterbacks since 1989 many were first round draft picks though not the first pick of the entire draft. But you also have names such as Jeff Hostetler, Mark Rypien, Brett Favre, Kurt Warner, Brad Johnson, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Nick Foles who won Super Bowls but were not picked in the first round by their team. It would have been great to land Trevor Lawrence for Jet fans like myself who would have considered that a major victory for the franchise in a horrible year.
Missing out on Trevor Lawrence does have it’s other major drawbacks. The Jets were in the perfect situation with the most attractive head coaching position to get a quality leader with the number one pick and the amount of cap space they have. Losing that pick also dampens the the chance of landing some free agents though that is highly over rated as most players these days just go to the team who offers them the most money.
Jet fans have to know you can never put all your eggs in one basket. Trevor Lawrence looks like the real deal but nothing is ever a guarantee when it comes to the NFL draft. I’m a Joe Douglas believer and if Woody and Chris Johnson don’t get involved in the decision making and leave Joe alone, he will turn this thing around with or without Trevor Lawrence.
Marty Schupak has been a New York Jets football fan since 1964. His blog and Podcast are both at: www.JetsRewind.com