Just one more win (that’ll come in Cleveland against the Browns on Sunday) will forever shut up the New York Jets so-called “experts.”It all started with a depressing bang.
Somehow, somewhere, one person in the media introduced the idea of “tanking” to the general public. This person witnessed names like Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold and Brandon Marshall no longer employed with the New York Jets and thought, “Hey, look at Mike Maccagnan go. He’s going all-out for that gun-slinger who beat Penn State in the Rose Bowl.”
More writers, so-called experts in Jet land immediately hopped on the idea and it spread like wildfire.
Then David Harris and Eric Decker were released.
Holy cow, folks (Phil Rizzuto). After those two late cuts, madness ensued. People went nuts. They acted as though Dick Butkus and Jerry Rice were tossed to the side for a few scraps.
The narrative of the full tank was on. Gary Myers of the New York Daily News was road-mapping the 0-16 season. Colin Cowherd predicted a zero-win campaign. Brian Costello of the New York Post suddenly reported an unnamed source within the NFL who called the Jets a “laughingstock” and reaffirmed the idea that they “had no plan.”
And my personal favorite of all, Daniel Jeremiah’s unnamed NFL exec who called the Jets roster the worst in a decade.
From an NFL exec- "I think the Jets might have the worst roster I've seen in a decade."
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) June 7, 2017
That’s nice. In fact, it was so nice we decided to compare the roster to the winless 2008 Detroit Lions at the time. Any idiot could see, while the Jets are nowhere near contention, this personnel grouping wasn’t historically awful.
But forget all of the piling on that was done during the summer. Forget about the fact these “experts” conveniently decided to ignore the Kelvin Beachum and Morris Claiborne signings. Toss aside the ignorant confusion that is equating NFL “names” to actual “talent” (Revis, Decker, Mangold, B-Marsh, Harris).
Forget all of the nonsense. If the New York Jets defeat the Cleveland Browns today on the road, they will have won their third straight game and finish the first five weeks with a 3-2 record.
A new narrative may be popping into our lives soon. A narrative that revolves around these young underdog Jets qualifying for the 2017 NFL Playoffs — the tournament, as many call it these days.
Right now, I feel foolish for the 6-10 prediction:
Why can’t this team pull off a 9-7 record and sneak in? In the midst of your laughing and getting those priceless LOL emojis ready, think about the prospect of this team playing in January.
For the idea to be realistic, a win today in Cleveland needs to go down. That’ll get the squad to 3-2. Then, we can probably pencil in a loss against the New England Patriots at home. That’s not etched in stone, but let’s play the senseless “win-loss” game for a moment:
- 5: @ Cleveland: WIN
- 6: vs. Patriots: LOSS
- 7: @ Miami: WIN
- 8: vs. Falcons: LOSS
- 9: vs. Bills: WIN
- 10: @ Tampa Bay: WIN
- 11: BYE
- 12: vs. Panthers: LOSS
- 13: vs. Chiefs: LOSS
- 14: @ Denver: WIN
- 15: @ New Orleans: WIN
- 16: vs. Chargers: WIN
- 17: @ New England: LOSS
This roadmap would get the team to 9-7. Is anybody going to defiantly claim the above example cannot happen? Furthermore, can anybody claim that 9-7 can’t get it done to sneak into the playoffs?
We’ve seen this story with the Buffalo Bills before. A season ago, they started 4-2 and were 6-5 prior to losing four of their last five games. Concede the AFC East to the Pats. The AFC North has the Pittsburgh Steelers in firm control. The AFC South showcased a bunch of mediocre teams. Other than the AFC West (which will definitely field at least one wild card team), 9-7 may be able to get it done.
The fascinating part about this discussion is how the team’s getting this done.
Everybody Underestimated the Immediate Impact From Jamal Adams
“A rookie? Hah. A rookie safety can’t make that great an impact during year one.”
That’s what they all said heading into the season. They (the so-called Jet “experts” in the media) scoffed at the idea that young Jamal Adams could be impactful on a borderline NFL All-Pro level. They, of course, all thought he’d be a gem, but not in year one, right off the proverbial bat.
Through four games, it’s not only clear that J.A. has passed Landon Collins as the best safety in New York (for the time being), but that he’s already sniffing Pro Bowl production. He’s playing everywhere. He’s disrupting everything. He can do everything.
When Todd Bowles unveiled the Jets new sub-package that featured Adams in the box during Week 3, he immediately put the entire league on notice that it’d be tough to work offensively against the Jets in a 3rd-and-long situation. With Marcus Maye and Terrence Brooks over-the-top, Adams becomes that ultimate weapon who can do it all near the line of scrimmage, in the flat, in the hook-to-curl, or even when rushing the passer.
Jamal Adams is already one of the best safeties in the NFL. Can do it all, deep half, edge, centerfield and get after the passer. #Jets pic.twitter.com/snSd71gORu
— Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) September 24, 2017
I've gotten ALL OVER Bowles for matching up too "big" and staying in Nickel when he should go lighter. This new package is great. #Jets pic.twitter.com/gOWltioYmY
— Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) September 26, 2017
Forget edge rushers and shutdown corners for the moment. The NFL safety is now that dominant defensive position in the game. He’s the only man on the field who can neutralize the opponent’s matchup problems through a tight end and/or running back. That Tom Brady-esque dinking-and-dunking game can only really be shut down through marvelous safety play.
Moreover, it’s a position that allows the young player to read-and-react and showcase his football IQ. It’s not the quarterback spot that may hurt the young player upon entrance into the NFL.
Adding fuel to the fire, Kony Ealy has provided excellent production on the edge in these packages.
Sheldon Richardson Gone has Allowed the Defense to Come Together
We’ve spoken about it to death. The Jets did a tremendous deed when they graciously accepted the gift that was Leonard Williams in the sixth hole two drafts ago. They’ve done a tremendous disservice to the entire team by not resolving the “too many interior defensive linemen” issue.
Whether it’s a base 3-4 or 4-3, employing Richardson, Big Cat and Muhammad Wilkerson screws everything up. Todd Bowles’s has tried his damndest to fit all three on the field at the same time, but it always backfired. Sheldon was either way too slow for the edge or Big Mo couldn’t handle his side. It comprised the integrity of the defense as a whole. They were too slow. Too sluggish.
With Richardson gone, the results have been undeniable. Granted, the first two weeks were rough, especially against the rush, but the defense is faster, younger and more spry overall. It’s allowed a player like Darron Lee to assume big boy duties in the middle of the lineup and learn from experience.
Morris Claiborne over Darrelle Revis is a Major Upgrade
When going through the differences between this season’s and last season’s, only one position jumped out to us as a major decline in skill. That was the wide receiver spot.
Many folks believed the cornerback spot was also hurting — probably, simply due to the idea “Revis” was such a big name.
Those folks were wrong.
Morris Claiborne has played very well through four weeks. Whether it’s Juston Burris, Darryl Roberts or Buster Skrine on the other side, Claiborne’s been everything this team could have hoped for.
Scoff if you will. You scoffed in the summer when we told you the roster had “improved” off of the dismal 5-11 season a year ago. You scoffed when we told you Adams and Maye would finish 2017 as the NFL’s best safety duo. You scoffed, laughed and chuckled your way through it all.
These Jets can make the playoffs. Will they? Probably not. The team isn’t talented enough to really content for eight or nine wins. Despite Josh McCown‘s start, the quarterback play just isn’t on that level. The weapons, too, aren’t on that level quite necessary.
But the defense is. This defense is legit and will only grow stronger as the year progresses.
Will they? Nah. Can they? Absolutely, and in the National Football League, that should never be taken lightly. In the game of football, locker room momentum and unforeseen circumstances (injuries, schedules, etc.) cannot be predicted.
For now, it’s the Browns that stand in their way of a third straight victory.