Two years ago the New York Jets opened their season against the Buffalo Bills. There was never an opening game I cared less about in my life, both as somebody who is a fan of the team and somebody who covers the team. The team’s leading receivers were recently acquired castoffs Jermaine Kearse and Will Tye. Their quarterback was an old backup who would never bring them to a playoff game or be even a medium term answer. The running back was clearly in his final NFL season. It was an old, boring, directionless team led by an incompetent Head Coach and General Manager.
The Jets took a beating (the final score of 21-12 was not indicative of how lopsided and sluggish the game was) and zombie walked to their second straight 5-11 season, which would ultimately be the meat of a 14-34 three year shit sandwich their fans were asked to stomach.
It wasn’t just the losing, it was the counterintuitive position the organization regularly put sensible fans in. The Jets haven’t played a meaningful November (nevermind December) game since 2015. If you peel it back further, over this eight year playoff drought, the Jets season was pragmatically over by Thanksgiving in all years except two (2011 and 2015). It has been more reasonable to root for this team to lose down the stretch the past few years, than eke out a win on the backs of mostly meaningless players who won’t be on the team (or any team) the following season.
Think about how miserable late season Jets football has been in recent years since they botched a playoff birth in Buffalo to end 2015. The Jets have lost by a combined score of 95-12 to New England the past three Decembers.
Tomorrow, the Jets will again open the season against the Buffalo Bills. Unlike two years ago, there is reason for optimism and excitement around this franchise. A quarterback can be a cure all to the many woes that regularly plague every NFL organization not in New England. We don’t know if Sam Darnold is going to be great yet but we do know he has a legitimate chance to be and rooting for his success in a vacuum is the most worthwhile thing fans have had to cheer for since the franchise’s Super Bowl hopes were crushed in Pittsburgh all those years ago.
Darnold is not the only player worth tuning in for. It was the wrong decision to pass on Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson for Jamal Adams (I am sorry, but it is true) but fortunately for the Jets, Adams is a genuine All-Pro at safety and the most dynamic defensive player the team has had since Darrelle Revis in his prime. The presence of these two makes the parade of future XFL players who were taken between rounds 3-7 the past five years mildly easier to stomach.
Generally high priced free agents don’t form the core of a successful team but both Le’Veon Bell and CJ Mosley are going to bring a level of talent credibility this franchise has sorely lacked. We don’t need to waste time reading nonsensical tweets about Elijah McGuire and Darron Lee being quality starters, as they’ve been replaced by All-Pro caliber talent.
The Jets had a weird offseason that circuitously led them to making a critically smart decision: firing Mike Maccagnan. We don’t know if Joe Douglas knows what he is doing yet but he’s built a credible front office around him and has a resume that points to him being a substantial upgrade at General Manager. The stains of ineptitude from Maccagnan at pass rusher, offensive line and cornerback may muck up this season but will hopefully be scrubbed away in the coming years.
Adam Gase probably isn’t the coach who is going to lead the Jets to a Super Bowl and probably won’t be here as long as Joe Douglas. At a minimum, the Jets need him to maintain and enhance the level Darnold is inevitably going to be at thanks to his talent level. Maybe Gase will be an outlier and thrive in his second chance alongside transient firebrand Gregg Williams and Patton Oswalt clone Dowell Loggains. Maybe he’ll stay a slightly below .500 coach. The newly constructed front office should have a shorter leash on Gase than a freshly hired Head Coach getting his first swing, since this is his fourth straight year as a NFL Head Coach.
We might learn a ton about the Jets tomorrow, like we did in the 2009 season opener and even the 2015 opener. We may get a dominant win that ultimately doesn’t mean much like in 2012 and 2018. This is likely to be an up and down team with how their schedule is structured and with so many new pieces being integrated.
Yet, this should be a season where there is a genuine buzz week to week with the presence of Darnold flanked by Bell. If they are 8-8, it shouldn’t be a boring 8-8 like we saw in 2013. There should be meaningful football after Thanksgiving, finally. There should be a pair of competitive games against the Patriots, rather than a hopeless pummeling with Bryce Petty under center. The era of rooting for losses for improved draft picks should be over. The era of knowing their GM is hopelessly in his over head should hopefully be over as well.
The Jets are probably going to be a good offensive team. They are probably going to be an entertaining team. When is the last time we could say that? I don’t know if they are ready to be a good team and I am predicting their playoff drought will extend to an incomprehensible nine years, which sucks and is something I greatly hope to be wrong about.
Being a fan is an inherently irrational thing. It makes adults say and do things at sporting events and from an anonymous social media accounts that is legitimately crazy. It allows repeated incompetence and failure to be highly profitable for many organizations. All that being said, it is still…fun, particularly when you have a deep love for the sport housing your favorite team.
This will be my tenth season running Turn On The Jets and my fifteenth season “covering” the Jets. I put “covering” in quotes because I’m not a beat writer. I don’t go to practice. It is not my job. It doesn’t pay the bills (although it helped me get the job that does). It is basically a glorified hobby that brings in some money on the side and gives me an elevated platform to talk about something I love, which is football. I played my whole life. I watched my whole life. I have written about it for most of my life. Fortunately, I love writing too and if you haven’t noticed yet, like hearing myself talk and to tweet…so really this is the perfect hobby for me. You golf? I hate golf. I run a website on a bad (hopefully soon to be good!) football team instead.
If you can’t tell, I am happy football is back…really back, not preseason back. As always, I appreciate any and everyone who reads, shares, listens to or interacts with any of our content. I promise we will write or say things that piss you off at some point this year but can also promise we’ll keep it informative and entertaining.