Last Thursday, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson made it clear he was willing to acquire a quarterback.
Woody Johnson says he’s “absolutely” open to Joe Douglas exploring how he’s paying big bucks for a veteran quarterback.
“That’s kind of the missing piece. Our defense was an incredible story you’ve seen this year, from last place to close to the top.” #jets
— Dennis Waszak Jr. (@DWAZ73) January 12, 2023
While most Jets fans agree with Johnson that the Jets need a QB upgrade, there’s a bit more debate surrounding the latter part of Woody’s quote about how close the Jets are to competing with their current lineup. On the one hand, one could argue that the Jets defense and the emergence of wide receiver Garrett Wilson and running back Breece Hall paved the way for the Jets to succeed. On the other hand, one could point to other groups of positions that were less successful this season, such as the offensive line.
Depending on alignment with one of these beliefs, the desire to pay a significant amount (for the allotment of the Jets’ limited cap space and/or draft capital) to acquire a QB may change. This is most notable in the debate over whether the Jets should be looking to sign players like Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson or Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.
However, it’s important to remember that rosters are rarely filled with all pro players in every position. In fact, even juggernauts like the Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers, and Philadelphia Eagles have weaknesses in their rosters. Additionally, these teams all have strong QB play that can help teams overcome these weaknesses, an advantage the Jets haven’t had in quite some time.
Going into 2022, an analysis of ProFootballFocus’s (PFF)-calculated “wins over substitutes” (WAR) without the QB can provide potential insight into the extent to which the Jets may be “just” a QB away.
As we can see in the graph below, uploaded to Reddit, the Jets roster generated the fourth most non-QB WAR among all NFL teams. Notably, the other 7 teams that made the top 8 in this statistic all made the playoffs. Additionally, the Jets have been calculated to have more WAR outside of the QB position than Super Bowl contenders like the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys, who appear to be buoyed to some degree by the excellence of their QBs.
Given that we’re using this evidence table for 2023 Jets who, given the relative strength of the rest of their roster, may simply need an improved QB to improve their overall winnings by a significant amount, we want to ensure WAR is consistent across seasons . Indeed, if WAR is inconsistent across years, then a strong WAR this year would give us little reason to expect a strong WAR next year from the non-QB players on the Jets. However, PFF WAR scores do correlate from year to year, as shown in a figure of PFF below. More specifically, the results confirmed that correlations within a given location were estimated up to 0.62, typically referred to as large correlation.
Taken together, this supports the Jets as having a strong roster … at least outside of quarterback. To me, that’s rationale to support Woody Johnson’s claim that the Jets are “a QB away” as well as justification for trying to acquire an established QB.
But what do you think? Are the Jets really a good roster being dragged down by a bad QB, or does this analysis miss a critical component skewing the results? For those who were against acquiring a quality QB, does that change your mind at all?