We've heard the bromides about blind squirrels and broken clocks as examples of rare success. Yet the Jets beat them back every time, while routinely drafting quarterbacks who collectively couldn’t do in the last 50 years what Tom Brady did for Tampa Bay in one - lead them to a Super Bowl.
The Jets have drafted 13 QBs since 1992, and only two were mildly successful: Chad Pennington and Mark Sanchez. The rest are a bunch named Brooks Bollinger, Bryce Petty, Tajh Boyd, Erik Ainge, Glenn Foley, Geno Smith, Christian Hackenberg, etc. - a list of busts and bombs that remind Jets fans why the Chiefs and Buccaneers are in the Super Bowl and Gang Green is not. Sam Darnold seems like a swell guy with some talent, but he's been battered too long by the collective incompetence around him, likely leaving him damaged goods for the rest of his career.
History schools us in the wisdom of building from within, by drafting and crafting your core players - particularly your quarterback - so that your salary cap doesn't burst into a prairie fire while you burn cash yearly on free agents. But since the Jets clearly can't seem to draft their first franchise quarterback since Joe Namath, it's time to buy one. And it looks like one happens to be both available and interested in the Jets.
In less than a year, the Houston Texans have imploded in ways only the Jets could fathom, and may be forced to dangle their most coveted commodity in Deshaun Watson. Watson has been a star since his college years at Clemson, the first to break the Saban code at Alabama and win a national championship. His head coach at Clemson, Dabo Swinney, has called Watson the Michael Jordan of football.
While that feels like a stretch, Watson is a fabulous quarterback who would lead the Jets to the playoffs with refreshing regularity if given the right pieces to play with. Gang Green just hired a new head coach, Robert Saleh, who comes to the Big Apple with a lot of respect for his time crafting the 49ers' defense. Chief among his admirers is loquacious cornerback Richard Sherman, who sternly advised Watson to flee Houston and find Florham Park, posthaste, and play for his D-Coordinator.
The Jets have nine draft picks in 2021, including two in the first round, which would be tempting for Houston to take for a player who clearly wants to leave. On top of their draft stock the Jets have copious cap room – approximately $65 million, second only to Jacksonville – which would be tempting to Watson should they use it on upgrades along the offensive line and at running back, for starters.
Watson was drafted by the Texans in 2017, and quickly crafted a reputation as one of the nicest guys in the NFL to go with his stratospheric talent. During Hurricane Harvey, which reduced parts of Houston to pulp, Watson donated his first game check to three stadium employees whose homes were impacted by the storm (approximately $27,000). The gesture was so heartwarming the amount was incidental, and it lifted the curtain on one of the most likable personalities in a business that comes across as too frigid toward human frailty.
In the NFL, you can alter your image in a heartbeat with the right play. Likewise, you can erase the aches of failure by getting the right face of your franchise, an improbable hybrid who happens to be a spectacular athlete on the gridiron and an impeccable role model away from it. Deshaun Watson feels so right for a team that too often gets it wrong.
Follow Jason Keidel on Twitter: @JasonKeidel