There is nothing worse than a forced reduction of something down to an all or nothing explanation. We live in too much of a “FIRST TAKE” world, where being the loudest takes precedent over actual analysis and discussion. Very rarely are things black and white. There are shades of gray to most issues.
This carries over to the world of sports, which we should always remember is a world that is ultimately meant to be a fun distraction from the anxieties and pressures of all those important “real world” situations. If you aren’t having fun following your team or your game, what is the point?
When you follow a team like the New York Jets, the lows generally seem to outweigh the highs. Although as a 26 year old that is probably an overstated stereotype. Over the past 15 years the Jets have been one of the most successful teams in the league, no seriously go look it up. Since 1998, I’ve seen eleven seasons at .500 or better, fourteen playoff games, seven playoff wins, and three AFC Championship Game appearances. This isn’t like rooting for Cleveland (sorry Browns, fans). Yet, people will tell you all of those seasons were “failures” because none ended in a Championship. All those wins? They meant nothing, sorry. There is no difference between a 2-14 season and 14-2 season if you don’t win the Lombardi Trophy.
Championship or bust. All or nothing. Black or white.
I don’t buy it. There was a difference between the 2006 Jets and the 2007 Jets. I enjoyed the 2006 season more often than not. I hated mostly every second of the 2007 season. One year, I got to watch an overachieving team scrap to 10 wins somehow and sneak into the playoffs. The other year, I got to watch Kellen Clemens one hop passes to Justin McCariens. There is a difference. I LOVED the 2009 Jets for all the same reasons. I HATED the 2012 Jets experience because it felt like nothing was about football. It was just about three bad quarterbacks rotating to throw to Jason Hill and Mardy Gilyard and seeing how many “TEBOW” questions would be asked at Rex Ryan’s daily presser.
I bring this up because this has the feeling of a fun year for Jets fans. This is a young, hungry, overachieving team that has some tantalizing young talent on both sides of the football. The arrow is pointing up and it is all the more enjoyable because they are defying the lazy pre-season bashing and negative prognosticating. To make things even more entertaining, the New York Giants are currently 0-6, publicly sniping at each other and look in need of rebuild badly. To top that off, if there is one team in football who is a bigger circus than the Giants, it is the 0-4 Tampa Bay Bucs where that Darrelle Revis guy was shipped off to.
If you can’t have fun with this season, why do you watch? I’m not biting my tongue because the Giants have won 2 Super Bowls in the past 5 years. If I can’t trash talk them, why watch? I’ll take the trash talk when the Jets are a butt-fumbling Tebow Joke but when you are a 0-6 disgrace and your supposed Hall of Fame quarterback is on pace to throw 420 interceptions, I’m going to have fun with it on Twitter and so should other Jets fans.
Last Monday’s win in Atlanta was a great “why we watch” reminder. Ten point underdogs. National television. Low expectations. What do we get? Our rookie quarterback turning in a terrific all-around performance, including a game winning drive. Our rookie defensive lineman looking dominant and like a shoe-in for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Our best player, Muhammad Wilkerson, making a statement to any NFL fan who doesn’t know his name yet. It was a thrilling win that almost slipped away but ended with many adults in the tri-state area running around their homes at 12:30 AM on a Monday Night like a kid on Christmas morning.
There weren’t moments like this last season…or even really in 2011, which is why 2013 has an early feel of being a good one for the Jets and their fans. Enjoy the ride.
Now on to the 12 Pack…
1. Geno Smith is going to follow up his breakout performance against Atlanta with a 17/25, 175 yard, 2 touchdown, 1 interception game. He will also rush for 25 yards.
2. Mike Goodson will finish with 55 total offensive yards, including another play of 15 yards or longer.
3. Bilal Powell will lead the Jets in carries and rushing yards. However, Chris Ivory will start picking up a little momentum in his limited action behind him.
4. Muhammad WIlkerson will record his 5th sack of the season and force another fumble. Sheldon Richardson, Quinton Coples and Calvin Pace will also record sacks, as Ben Roethlisberger will be dropped 4 times.
5. Big Ben will throw for 300 yards and a pair of touchdowns but also have a pair of turnovers.
6. Antonio Brown will have 90 yards receiving and a touchdown.
7. The Steelers will have less than 65 rushing yards as a team.
8. Darrin Walls will record his first interception of the season.
9. Jeremy Kerley will lead the way for Jets receivers with 5 receptions for 70 yards.
10. Jeff Cumberland will finish with 4 receptions for 50 yards and his second touchdown of the season.
11. Zach Sudfeld with make his Jets debut and record at least 1 reception.
12. The Jets are going to win and cover in a close game, 20-14…setting the table for the 4-2 Patriots (after they lose to New Orleans) taking on the 4-2 Jets next week at MetLife.