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By: Geoff Magliocchetti
It’s an unlikely, if not curious, scenario for the Jets to consider
In another benchmark of futility for the modern New York Jets, the most recent “Mr. Irrelevant” needed only a single postseason start to best the Jets’ recent total of meaningful January contests.
The Brock Purdy saga ended on Sunday, as the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback was limited to early and emergency snaps after suffering an elbow injury during the early stages of the NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia. Though his injury set the stage for a 31-7 shellacking at the hands of the hosting Eagles, his fantasy freshman campaign will not be soon forgotten.
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Purdy etched his name into NFL rookie lore over the latter stages of this season when season-ending injuries to Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo pressed him into service. The Iowa State alum guided the 49ers to victory in each of their final five regular season games, locking up the NFC’s second playoff seed and the postseason home games that come with it. Decent showings against Seattle and Dallas pushed the 49ers to the conference title contest before his injury more or less derailed any championship momentum. Purdy was forced to re-enter the game when his medically-induced replacement, Josh Johnson, was likewise injured.
All that and more came after Purdy was the last of 262 names called at the NFL Draft in Las Vegas last spring, “earning” the negligible moniker bestowed to the final pick of the annual selection meeting. While Purdy’s future is in question …it’s possible he could miss the entire 2023 season … his late performance likely goes down as one of the gutsiest gridiron performances in recent memory.
Is This ‘Purdy Good’ Solution the Answer to the Jets?
In case you’re new to the site, the Jets have a quarterback issue. Leave it to Gang Green to get nearly everything else right – to the tune of four Pro Bowlers and the possible Rookie of the Year on both sides of the ball – except the most important position in sports, where Zach Wilson appears to be the latest metropolitan washout under center.
This NFL offseason technically hasn’t begun yet, but tri-state area Photoshoppers have already been busy fulfilling the dreams of passing-starved Jets fans. Aaron Rodgers has skyrocketed to the top of the dreamy power rankings conjured by fans upon Nathaniel Hackett’s hiring. Garoppolo and Derek Carr would be more than tolerable consolation prizes. Tom Brady did the Jets (and the rest of the NFL’s quarterback-hungry teams) by retiring and saving the gridiron world weeks, of “Should They/ Shouldn’t They, Will They/Won’t They” discourses.
The silver lining of the Jets’ upcoming offseason affairs is that they can dedicate the bulk, if not nearly the entirety, of their research to finding a quarterback that will allow them to break into the postseason bracket. This isn’t like the end of the Sam Darnold era, where there were so many holes on the depth chart that there was a realistic argument for keeping Wilson’s predecessor around for another year.
But any move the Jets want to make is offset by the vocal commitments they’ve made to Wilson, who has vowed to “make life hell” for anyone who dares join him in the quarterback room next year. Granted, it’s admirable to see that Wilson hasn’t lost his confidence despite enduring a sophomore season conjured from the depths of the football underworld, but that’s where the proverbial “Jets tax” rears its ugly head. Any semblance of controversy carries a massive inflation rate with the Jets and could even bring the invasive cameras of “Hard Knocks” over to Florham Park.
Of course, if every move in the NFL was personal, every team would be undefeated, so it stands to reason that there will be at least one new aerial name on the roster come this spring.
Bringing in a late choice, a la Purdy, thus might be one intriguing way to go. If it’s the only route they go – and, if we’re being realistic, it shouldn’t be an exclusive way to go – waiting until the latter rounds to draft would be a way to show some sort of faith in Wilson while warning him that he’s on thin ice.
It’s time, however, that the Jets reap the fledgling benefits of Joe Douglas‘ blueprint, one that won them seven games and put them on the cusp of playoff contention despite starting a potential bust, a one-hit wonder, and an indifferent Super Bowl MVP chasing a paycheck at quarterback this season. Hackett’s hiring partly centered upon the mutual interest in finding an experienced name and the Jets would be downright silly not to embark on such an endeavor.
Even so, adding an accomplished veteran would perhaps make drafting a Purdy-like option even more essential. Many metropolitan pessimists have already compared the idea of adding Rodgers to the purgatorial Brett Favre saga of 2008 (the complicated legacy of which is a discussion for another day) for reasons far beyond the G-branded helmet they’re each known for.
Rodgers isn’t retiring anytime soon – there’s no way he, or any active first-ballot Hall of Famer, would remotely risk winding up in the same Hall of Fame class as Brady – but he obviously can’t do this forever. It would behoove the Jets to have both the immediate franchise man and a project for him to work with. Wilson, for the time being, doesn’t appear to be that guy, so using a late-round pick on a thrower would be the perfect setup.
Purdy’s success changed football for the foreseeable future. Mr. Irrelevant is no longer a niche topic football virtuosos can lecture their friends about on draft day and any seventh-round pick that hears his name called this time around will immediately be labeled his new employer’s Purdy.
Asking the question of whether a team is capable of even intentionally going the Purdy is almost, pun most intended, irrelevant. His success only came because it was so unexpected, only given a chance to play out because the 49ers had literally no other choice.
But the Jets have tried everything when it comes to finding a quarterback. It’d almost be silly not to least consider sheer dumb luck at this point in time.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags
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Originally posted on Jets X-Factor