New York Jets
(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Despite what some people think, the New York Jets aren’t all that far away from being back in the thick of the playoff picture.

The New York Jets have the worst roster in the NFL. The Jets suck. It’s a played out narrative that, even after the Jets exceeding expectations by going 5-11 in 2017 and a fruitful offseason thus far, has some pushing that very idea.

Everyone loves judging a book by its cover. It’s the easy and, quite frankly, lazy thing to do. But here’s the thing: The Jets don’t suck. The Jets, believe it or not, are only a quarterback away from contention.

The Jets wouldn’t know this, but a good quarterback is essentially a magician. They have the ability to make things seem better than they really are, much like they have the ability to make something out of a broken play.

The example I love to use is one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, Peyton Manning, who carried the Indianapolis Colts on his back for 13 years. Only twice during his stay in Indy did the Colts fail to finish a season with double-digit wins.


Think about that for a minute. Over a 13-year span, the Colts won at least 10 games with Manning under center 11 times.

Without Manning, who missed the entire 2011 season due to a neck injury, the Colts went from legitimate Super Bowl contender and a 10-6 record in 2010 to a team that couldn’t get out of its own way, finishing 2-14 in 2011.

New York Jets

Quarterbacks can make those around them better, whether that’s at the skill positions or the offensive line. The Colts, at the end of Manning’s tenure, were a dumpster fire, a roster devoid of talent.

That’s not where the Jets find themselves. They’re far better than that 2-14 Colts team, with much more talent on the roster. But the point is this: The Colts sucked at the right time. They drafted Andrew Luck first overall in the 2012 NFL Draft, who stepped right in.

After a quick pitstop in the basement, the Colts put together three 11-5 seasons with Luck under center. See what I mean about a QB being able to make those around them better?

Quarterbacks are the end-all, be-all in football. If you have a good one, you can contend for a championship in any given year. If you don’t, you’ve got no chance. You’re a pretender.

The Jets have a solid receiving corps with potential, a solid, albeit unspectacular backfield and, at the very least, an average offensive line. Gang Green has a defense that has a chance to be truly special after the free-agent additions this offseason.

A quarterback can change the fortune of the franchise for the foreseeable future. The Jets did everything in their power to get the best one they could and surround said player with as much talent as possible.

While they fell short in their pursuit of Kirk Cousins, they’re in prime position to add that missing piece with the third-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Why couldn’t the Jets contend in 2018 with a rookie quarterback? After all, the AFC East is full of question marks.

The Buffalo Bills have no idea who their starting quarterback will be, perhaps still hungover after popping the champagne for simply making the playoffs in 2017. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.

Down in South Beach, the Miami Dolphins clearly aren’t big fans of Ryan Tannehill, which means another division foe with major issues under center.

Yes, Tom Brady remains at the helm of the New England Patriots, and they remain the elephant in the room. But do you remember the “Final Destination” movies?

No? OK, so the premise is basically this: A group of people are supposed to die but manage to cheat death by complete accident. Eventually, though, you can only run away from the Grim Reaper for so long. Eventually, he’s going to catch up to you.

That’s how I look at Brady, AKA “Tom Terrific,” AKA “The Comeback Kid,” AKA “The Ageless Wonder.”

He’s 40, going on 41 and, so far, has spit in the face of Father Time. Brady doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon (heck he was back in the Super Bowl last season). But it’s a matter of if—not when—the reaper catches up to Brady.

The Jets are setting themselves up to be ready for whenever that day arrives. When it does, there can be a seamless transition from the Patriots to the new era in Gotham, one led by the “promised child” taken with the No. 3 pick.

Gang Green is ready to receive their consolation prize for suffering through 2017. If they nail it with the third overall pick—even if he turns out to be just half of what Brady has been—the Jets will be the team to beat in the AFC East.

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