Kirk Cousins is the only option the Jets should be considering unless he signs elsewhere and the reasoning is simple. He is the best Quarterback that will be available in the Free Agent market and the Jets CANNOT DEVELOP QUARTERBACKS.
I am not going to delve into the stats of Cousins too much here, instead to prove my point I am going to give you a lesson on the Jets brutal Quarterback history. Please bear with me, I know it is not going to be easy to see how bad Jets quarterbacks have been.
The Jets have not developed a legitimate franchise Quarterback since “Broadway” Joe Namath, yes that is right their Quarterback from the 1969 Super Bowl. Since then the Jets have had a few guys that started their career with the Jets and had some success but were never true winners.
Some of those guys are Richard Todd, Ken O’Brien, and Chad Pennington. All three of those players spent eight or nine seasons with Gang Green after being a first-round draft pick by the Jets. Richard Todd spent eight years with the Jets and only had two winning seasons with the team finishing his career in New York with an underwhelming QB record of 42-51-1 from 1976-1983.
Ken O’Brien was the next Franchise QB for the Jets, he was drafted 24th overall in 1983 and after sitting on the bench for most of his rookie year he dominated in 85′ going 11-5 and was a Pro Bowl selection. He had a solid season in 86′ but he never reached the heights he did in his sophomore year. O’Brien played 9 years with the Jets and finished with a 50-55-1 QB record and only two seasons over .500.
After O’Brien the Jets moved toward veteran QB’s Boomer Esiason and Vinny Testaverde. Boomer was well past his prime after a solid career in Cincinnati but Testaverde was arguably the best Quarterback the Jets Franchise had ever seen even though he played for them in his late 30’s.
Testaverde was a journeyman Quarterback for his entire career but found some solid ground in his seven years with the Jets. He struggled to stay healthy in his later years but when he was on the field he was great.
In three full seasons on the field with the Jets Testaverde went 31-14, but in years that were plagued with injuries, he went a total of 4-12. Vinny was on the Jets from 1998-2003 and again in 2005 and after that, they moved into the Chad Pennington era.
In 2000 the Jets drafted Chad Pennington 18th overall but he didn’t play until 2002 when he dominated, going 8-4 with a 68.9 completion percentage and 3120 passing yards. With that stretch of dominance it looked like the Jets had found their future, but of course, all good things come to an end.
In the fourth preseason game of 2003 Pennington severely injured his wrist causing him to miss most of the season. Pennington had a strong season in 2004, only missing 3 games and he led them to the playoffs. Pennington would end up missing most of 2005 with shoulder issues but returned to his old form in 2006, dominating and leading the Jets to the playoffs, only to lose to the Patriots.
Chad Pennington played one more year in New York then moved on to Miami. Although Pennington’s injuries derailed his career he represented the best stretch of Quarterback play in Jets history, rivaled only by his predecessor and mentor Vinny Testaverde.
Since Pennington, we have seen the mediocre Brett Favre year, the failure of the “Sanchize” with Mark Sanchez, the embarrassing Geno Smith, Journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick, who brought the Jets one good year, and most recently Josh McCown who played well but was set up to fail.
In all this time since Broadway Joe, the Jets have only had two Quarterbacks that they can look back on and truly be proud of, but neither of them made them perennial contenders because of their inability to stay on the field.
The Jets have yet another shot to change their fortune at the most important position in football, the signal caller.
In reality, the Jets can take a shot on one of the talented Quarterbacks in this years draft class, all of whom have question marks, need time to develop and there is no consensus as to who the best one is to boot. My history lesson showed the Jets have tried to develop five guys since Joe Namath and they only had one true success story.
You could argue in favor of Mark Sanchez, whose past I did not detail because he went to two straight AFC Championship games. However, if you watched those seasons those teams made it deep into the playoffs in spite of his performance, not because of it.
When looking at how the Jets have done when bringing in veteran Quarterbacks they have not been Super Bowl contenders but they were exponentially more successful going that route. Boomer, Testaverde, Favre, Fitzpatrick, and McCown played at least at an average level with Testaverde and Fitzpatrick playing above average.
One thing those veteran Quarterbacks all have in common is they came to the Jets at the age of 32 or later, for most athletes 32 is the end of their athletic prime so it makes sense they did not get the best performances from most of them.
Kirk Cousins isn’t a youngster, but he will only be 30 for this upcoming season and is coming off of three consecutive seasons where he has thrown over 4,000 yards; which is something that Jet fans have only seen done by Joe Namath.
Let me point out, most fans of the team today weren’t close to being alive when Namath threw for 4,007 yards in 67′.
Kirk Cousins has been the full-time Quarterback for Washington since 2015 and in his three years leading the Redskins he has had a record of 24-23-1 with one playoff appearance.
That is not an overwhelming record but his passing totals are not something to shy away from. in 2015 he threw 4,166 yards with a career-high 29 touchdowns, in 2016 a career-high 4,917 yards and 25 touchdowns and this past season 4,093 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Those numbers are even more impressive when you see the lack of talent surrounding him, his best receivers have been the injury-prone Jordan Reed and the young Jamison Crowder. Beyond those two he has not had too much on offense to support him the past three years.
The Jets are very similar to the Redskins talent wise but they do have an edge when it comes to offensive weapons and the ability to upgrade with a lot of cap space.
At wide receiver the Jets have Robby Anderson who had a breakout season, proving to be a legitimate deep ball threat, just missing 1,000 receiving yards. Jermaine Kearse who spent his first year with New York and proved to be a nice possession receiver that can play on the outside and in the slot, he totaled 810 receiving yards this year, a career high.
The Jets also found a diamond in the rough with Austin Seferian-Jenkins at tight end, he did not have flashy numbers but proved to be a red zone threat and created openings for other players. Finally, the Jets have Quincy Enunwa who had a great 2016 but suffered a neck injury in the preseason causing him to miss all of 2017. He is an excellent slot receiver who should be healthy for next year.
With those four in place for next season, Kirk Cousins could have a lot of toys to play with for the first time in his career, that alone is why Cousins fits. That is not even including the roughly 60 million the Jets would have available to improve their roster if they brought Cousins aboard. Don’t forget about the six overall draft pick they have either.
The Jets have holes to fill, that is undeniable, but Cousins represents maybe the best short and long-term fix the Jets have ever had available to them, even if he’s not a top five QB.
The Jets need someone who can run their offense for the next 5-7 years without having to hope he turns out good, we know what Cousins is. He has made the Redskins, a team with talent equivalent to the Jets last season, an average team for three years.
It’s worth using the cap space to build around him and see what he can do with the tools to make a legitimate playoff run.