Over the last few weeks my blog has been rather quiet mainly because there has been lots of Jets chatter but a dearth of Jets news. This time of year in the NFL is equally exciting and irritating. Exciting, especially this year, because of the number of elite level players hitting free agency and the big changes we know are just around the corner, but irritating because at the end of day only the GMs, coaches and scouts know what they are planning and the endless speculation surrounding it becomes a little tiresome. What I do enjoy is that when real news does come, it’s often nothing like the suggestions that have been bandied about in the previous weeks.
Friday was a day of actual news from Florham Park with the headline grabbing trade with the Bears for Brandon Marshall and a new contract for David Harris. Jets fans are understandably excited by the Marshall trade as he provides the Jets with a true number one receiver, allowing Eric Decker to take up a more suitable role as number two. A quick look at his stats show that Marshall has consistently shown star quality across a career with 773 career receptions for 9,771 yards and 65 touchdowns in nine NFL seasons. He has had seven straight years of 1,000 or more receiving yards, only ended by injury in 2014. Having played under him in 2010/11 with the Dolphins, Marshall is also familiar with head coach Todd Bowles. All signs suggest a good move.
I’m intrigued by this trade mainly because Marshall is an interesting guy who has certainly had a roller coaster of a life and career. His NFL films’ ‘A Football Life’ gives a great insight into his world both on and off the field. Drafted in the 4th round in 2006 by Denver he has been a controversial and outspoken figure as well as a pro-bowl calibre receiver. His relationship with Jay Cutler (also drafted by Denver in 2006) shows both his loyalty and also how he has not been afraid to rock boats. After unexplained outbursts (Cutler said at times it was like a switch flipped and he ‘didn’t know who this was’) and off field controversy, Marshall was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and has since championed mental health issues, using his spotlight to draw attention to this and encourage openness and discussion. Marshall is both a passionate and intelligent man and football player.
Looking at the wider impact, the Marshall trade is particularly interesting, not least because it casts some possible light on the direction the Jets will go with Percy Harvin. I have always believed that Harvin will be released (and NFL insider reports Friday suggest this will happen) due to his price tag. Although there is the money in the coffers to keep him should they wish, with the number of other needs, that $10+ million would be better spent elsewhere. A trio of Harvin, Decker and Marshall would clearly be a force to be reckoned with, but without a solution to the quarterback situation it would be akin to have a box full of bullets but no gun. Geno Smith threw a lowly 219 completions in 2014 and by the end of the year the offense was skewed firmly towards the run because of the high interception rate. At this point, without a consistent passing game, spending so much on a receiving corps seems a waste. Now the Bills have traded with the Eagles for LeSean McCoy, CJ Spiller could become a possible and highly realistic target for the Jets in free agency to help Bowles create the more ‘balanced’ (and workable) offense of which he has spoken recently. Of course there is still the QB to sort out and time will tell how this goes. Developing the OL will at least alleviate some of the pressure on Geno but there is still much to do. Brandon Marshall is the first of hopefully many big moves but is a positive indicator of the way Maccagnan and Bowles are thinking. The next few weeks will be interesting.