The New England Patriots aren’t the juggernaut they were just a few months ago. Buffalo and Miami continue to tread water without improving. The time is right for the New York Jets to strike.
The tide is changing in the AFC East folks. For the last millennium, the New England Patriots were the team that reigned supreme, but it may finally be time for the New York Jets to strike while the iron is hot.
In Sun Tzu’s legendary “The Art of War” there’s an oft-referenced quote: “Every battle is won before it is fought.” That same philosophy can be applied to the AFC East.
When Tom Brady is on the other side of the field, seemingly every battle ever fought had already been decided before the opposing team stepped on the field.
With one exception (2008), the Patriots have won the AFC East every season since 2003. In 2008, they lost the division crown to the Miami Dolphins on a tie-breaker. Let’s call a spade a spade: The Patriots have dominated. They’ve owned the division for more than a decade.
But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
No, it’s not God. It’s Father Time. They probably look similar (two old white guys), but back to the point, he’s undefeated. Father Time has certainly been challenged over the years, and Brady, who is 40 years old and will be 41 by the time the season starts, might be his most formidable foe.
While there’s been no obvious sign of this old geezer kicking the bucket anytime soon, age isn’t just a number. Bodies crumble. Things happen.
It’s inevitable that the perfect comeback kid will eventually fall off the cliff and it’s going to happen sooner rather than later.
But it’s more than Tom Brady’s vulnerabilities that have been exposed. The Patriots are a weaker team than they were at the end of the season.
They’ve lost their top wide receiver (Brandin Cooks, traded to the Los Angeles Rams), their top running back (Dion Lewis, signed with the Tennessee Titans), their top offensive lineman (Nate Solder, signed with the New York Giants) and their top slot receiver (Danny Amendola, signed with the Dolphins).
Oh, and they could lose their top tight end, Rob Gronkowski, who reportedly hasn’t decided if he wants to continue playing or not.
The Jets are in an interesting position. They improved several facets of the team with their immense cap space this season and hold the No. 3 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, where they’ll likely pick their franchise quarterback to build around.
Next year they’re projected to have the most cap space in the league with well over $100 million.
Speaking of the 2018 NFL Draft, there’s a real possibility every team in the AFC East could be selecting a passer in the first round. The balance in power of the division is on the line. So who’s going to take advantage?
Why not the Jets?
This team is a quarterback away from competing. Free agency helped solidify a variety of positions on the team including the offensive line, secondary, and even at wide receiver. Sure this team could use a few more upgrades. I’m not saying this Jets team will go 16-0, but a franchise quarterback can be a game-changer.
If you have one, you’re competing for titles every year. If you don’t, you’re nothing more than a pretender. The Jets have been painfully aware of that fact throughout the 21st century.
Just imagine if the Jets can draft a Josh Rosen or Baker Mayfield at No. 3. Develop him for the majority of the year under Josh McCown or Teddy Bridgewater (health pending), then swing for the fences in 2019.
Or better yet, insert Russell Wilson scenario at 1 Jets Drive. You draft a guy thinking he’ll develop his rookie year and he ends up beating out everyone and he’s your opening day starter and just takes over from there.
No matter how you slice it, the Jets are in an enviable position in the league.
Gang Green has the keys to the kingdom and can rule the roost once the Patriots dynasty fades following the Brady era. But it all starts with Mike Maccagnan’s legacy and that’ll be defined with his selection with the third overall draft choice.