By Frank Barone
At the start of the 2006 New York Jet season head coach Eric Mangini was in an envious position.Â If the Jets lost, most people were expecting it.Â The team was coming off a four and twelve season and considered to be rebuilding in the eyes of the media.Â There was virtually no expectations for the New York Jets this year. Most Jet fans figured they’d have a losing season and get a shot in the April 2007 NFL draft at a player like Oklahomaâ€™s Adrian Peterson or maybe Calvin Johnson of Georgia Tech. It was easier for Jet fans to accept a rebuilding mode after the disaster witnessed last season in Jet Nation.
But sometimes, when a team in this situation starts winning it creates a whole new set of expectations from its fans. In the case of the 2006 Jets, they began with a rookie coach that was untested.Â They also had an injury plagued QB in Chad Pennington and players that seemed not to have the talent level to compete with the elite teams of the NFL. If they went seven and nine that was acceptable given the circumstances.
Then something crazy happened, three wins against AFC opponents (two against hated division rivals the Bills and Dolphins).Â You take a look at the upcoming schedule and see theÂ Detroit Lions with a losing record coming up at home and the Cleveland Browns with a losing record on the road.Â Thoughts of five and three heading into the bye start to sound pretty good.Â All of a sudden playoff scenarios start playing out in your mind. You compare the Jets schedule to other contenders in the AFC.Â The most important games to win to are those AFC games and games against teams in your division. You root for certain teams to lose (New York Giants always for me) that can help out the Jets chances.
With a fairly easy schedule on paper, it’s not impossible to think that the Jets could manage to challenge for a playoff spot.Â Now you are expecting the Jets to make the playoffs.Â Just a few short weeks ago such a thought seemed impossible.Â So lets all enjoy this roller coaster ride that we call being a NY Jets fan.