By Patrick Stanton
Jetnation.com Senior Columnist
It doesn’t take an Ivy League degree to know that there is a certain level of danger inherent with being a fan of the New York Jets. 75% of the time, the level relates directly to prospective property damage within the Jets fan’s immediate viewing area. This can range from flying remote controls and other nearby “projectiles of opportunity”, to human fist impact as my cardboard Chad Pennington stand-up cut out discovered years ago. The remaining 25% involves danger that can only be measured from within, by the individual Jets fan themselves; the emotional factor.
As we’ve learned in the past, the emotional danger that comes with a lifelong dedication to Gang Green is far worse than any form of physical damage you can inflict on property items. I submit for your immediate recollection, the 1982 AFC Championship, the 1986 AFC Divisional Playoff, the Kotite Years, the 1998 AFC Championship, the 1999 injury to Vinny, Doug Brien’s missed field goals in 2005 and the 2009 AFC Championship. Just the mere mention of any of these instances elicits immediate mental suffering. However, I submit for your consideration, the opinion that they will pale in comparison to what is about to unfold before our eyes this coming season.
The New York Jets are the talk of the town across the nation right now, with an energetic and extremely confident head coach, a hot shot, model-nailing quarterback, and a defense that on paper, could rate as the best in New York Jets history. They’re predicted by a number of media outlets to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl and are sure to boost these predictions with a rather slanted and heavily-edited television campaign on HBO’s Hard Knocks. For all intents and purposes, the media and fans of Jets Nation have anointed the 2010 NFL Season as the “Year of the New York Jets”, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time.
For a team that went to the AFC Championship a mere seven months ago, the Jets have made a significant number of changes, both on and off the field, which could cause growing pains severe enough to throw the Jets Super Bowl train right off the tracks.
On offense, they meddled with the best rushing attack in football, by cutting clubhouse leader Alan Faneca for an untested rookie in Vladimir Ducasse. Additionally, they sent another clubhouse leader, Thomas Jones (1,402 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2009), packing for a maligned LaDainian Tomlinson, who posted his worst yards per carry average of his career this past season. They’ve improved their receiving corps with Santonio Holmes and Laveranues Coles, but in doing so, have brought in two individuals who can be locker room distractions without even trying. Combined with the prospect of sophomore slumps from both Mark Sanchez and to a lesser degree, Shonn Greene, the Jets Offense could have enough issues to make a February trip to Dallas, Texas a sight-seeing tour versus a work-related trip.
Moving onto the other side of the football, one look at the Jets Defense and you realize just where the Jets Super Bowl hopes lie. The road to Dallas lies on the backs of the Jets Defense and their ability to give the offense a chance to win the game. The addition of Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson to the secondary, along with the elimination of liability Kerry Rhodes, bolsters what could arguably be the best secondary in the NFL. Meanwhile, the strength of the Jets secondary should give the front seven, bolstered by newcomer Jason Taylor, ample time to get to the quarterback. While this should be a time of hope and high expectations for the Jets Defense, a dark cloud will hang over them until the Darrelle Revis contract drama is over. In a season of such hope and excitement, having the cornerstone of your Defense hold out over something that should have been worked out months ago, could be enough of a distraction to set the defense back weeks. The Revis contract drama needs to end and it needs to end soon. As one of the leaders of that defense, any drawn out drama centering on Revis is sure to upset the morale of the team as a whole and is an unneeded headache.
Speaking of headaches, stock up on Excedrin Jets fans, because Nick Folk is going to give you migraines. While Rex Ryan & Mike Tannenbaum have done a good job of personnel management for the most part, the failure to resign another strong clubhouse leader in Jay Feely, could be the move that directly costs the New York Jets a football game this year. Nick Folk is a ticking time bomb and is without a doubt, a significant step in the wrong direction for Jets Special Teams. Folk was waived by the Dallas Cowboys in December of last season, connecting on only 64% of his FG attempts, and will pose a significant liability when called upon to win a game with his leg.
It is, without a doubt, a great time to be a fan of the New York Jets, however we’re being set up for an emotional roller coaster which given the predictions, the expectations and the emotional investments being made by fans of Gang Green everywhere, will end in disaster. While “In Rex Ryan We Trust” continues to be an accurate mantra, i’m afraid that given the personnel moves, and their impact both on and off the field, this just isn’t going to be the year the Jets erase 42 years of ineptitude. The Jets are going in the right direction, without a doubt, and stand closer to a Super Bowl than ever before in their history. I truly believe that Rex Ryan & Mike Tannenbaum will bring a Super Bowl title to the New York Jets, but this simply isn’t the year.
I’m taking the Jets to go 10-6 and earn a Wild Card berth into the playoffs, before a loss in the divisional playoff. One more year of pain before we as Jets fans can finally heal the emotional wounds inflicted over four decades. Beware the 25% my friends and invest with caution for the 2010 season.