As a life-long fan of the New York Jets, I have been conditioned to approach each new NFL season with 10 percent optimism and 90 percent apprehension about the inevitable suffering that will almost definitely come to pass. Year after year of watching optimism turn into horror will do that to a person. We don’t go into this season like Giants fans, who have had too much success in recent years.
As the 2016 season draws ever closer, those feelings are once again beginning to rear their heads. Sure, Gang Green was 10-6 last season. Sure, they were once again knocking on the door of the playoffs. They were just one win away from a wild-card berth, and once again, the Jets found a way to blow it. Any Jets fan, let alone any football fan can look at the Jets roster in its current state and sense the same impending doom that has plagued them year after year.
Vegas has released their futures odds for the 2016 season. The Jets are 50/1 to win the Super Bowl. They are 25/1 to win the AFC. They only have the third best odds to win the AFC East, and they are projected for eight wins.
As far as the offense goes, it appears that the Jets will once again be stuck with a sub-par quarterback. Even though Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for a franchise record 31 touchdowns in 2015, the front office has found a way to insult him by offering him less money than quarterbacks like Brock Osweiler. To show how insulted he is, Fitzpatrick refuses to sign a new deal with New York until they pay him what he feels he deserves.
This means that Geno Smith stands to once again be under center as the Jets starting quarterback. This is the same Geno Smith who has looked more or less like a lost puppy than an NFL caliber starting quarterback in what we’ve seen of him so far. The same Geno Smith who was punched by a teammate in a dispute over $600. As it stands right now, the Jets need to do whatever they can to bring Fitzpatrick back. If they don’t, Jets fans everywhere will be doomed to once again watch Geno run 20 yards in the wrong direction on 3rd and 5.
On a more optimistic note, the recent free agent signing of prolific running back Matt Forte could help to offset the sub-par quarterback play of Geno Smith. The Jets also traded for offensive tackle Ryan Clady, who should help their running game exponentially.
If Forte can stay healthy (injury problems have plagued him lately,) the 10 percent optimism I normally feel could increase to 20 percent. Forte has grown older, but in his prime he was one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the NFL. Even if Forte can bring a fraction of that magic with him to New York, that would be more than a start.
As far as the defense is concerned, everyone will have to wait and see how first round pick Darron Lee will perform in the pros. The outside linebacker from Ohio State University was one of the fastest players available in the draft, and he shoud provide a nice complement to longtime Jets linebacker David Harris.
In the secondary, Darelle Revis will return for another season. While he’s not the All Pro corner he once was, Revis is still one of the better defensive players in the league. With Sheldon Richardson and Mohammed Wilkerson on the defensive line pressuring quarterbacks, Revis should be able to use his high football IQ to make life miserable for his opponents.
While the Jets quarterback dilemma still leaves me with that unshakable feeling of foreboding, I can’t help but feel like the Jets once again have a shot at the playoffs this year. The Jets don’t appear to be the best team in the league by any stretch, but they also definitely aren’t the worst.