By Glenn Naughton
For the second season in a row the NFL schedule makers were kind to the New York Jets out of the gate as they’re set to open the season at home against the Cleveland Browns after earning one of only four wins last season when the lowly Oakland Raiders were on tap in week one. As expected, there are some intriguing story lines throughout the season.
Fans hoping for a week one match-up against Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills following the inflammatory comments made by the Jets former head coach in response to tight end Jace Amaro’s criticism last week will have to wait until week 10. The two teams will meet again in week 17 to close out the season in a game that many hope will have playoff implications as both teams made considerable upgrades to their respective rosters.
Here’s a breakdown of the Jets 2015 schedule:
Week 1- Cleveland Browns 1 PM- The Jets welcome former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to town with his Cleveland Browns who are one of the few teams in the NFL with what could be a worse situation at quarterback than the Jets. Pettine was brought in by the Browns with a reputation as a hard-nosed disciplinarian but since his arrival, his franchise quarterback, Johnny Manziel spent more time partying than practicing which led to a late-season suspension and post-season rehab stint. In addition to Manziel, Pettine’s top playmaker on offense, Josh Gordon was hit with yet another violation of the league substance abuse policy. With the Jets additions on defense and the Browns cast of quarterbacks currently on the roster, this is a favorable match-up.
Week 2- @ Indianapolis Colts 8:30 PM- The Jets face their first true test for their re-built secondary as Andrew Luck and the Colts host the Jets on ESPN. It’s a Monday night contest so the country will be watching a much-hyped defense against one of the top gunslingers in the league.
Week 3– Philadelpia Eagles 1 PM- This may be the most intriguing non-divisional game on the schedule. Todd Bowles’ reputation as a defensive mastermind squaring off against Chip Kelly’s up-tempo Eagles offense. It wouldn’t be out of the question to expect to see Mark Sanchez under center for the Eagles if Philly doesn’t make a dramatic draft day move for Marcus Mariota. The only other experienced quarterback currently on the Eagles roster is the very talented yet oft-injured Sam Bradford. One other note that I’m sure we won’t hear any pundits discussing prior to this game is the possible return of Tim Tebow to MetLife Stadium.
Week 4- @ Miami Dolphins (in London) 9:30am- The Jets are first time participants in the NFL’s international series as they take on the division rival Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium in London. For Jets fans who have never visited before, there will never be a better excuse. Miami’s addition of defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh adds fuel to the divisional fire.
Week 5- BYE
Week 6- Washington Redskins 1 PM- Much remains to be seen in terms of what unfolds for the Redskins at the quarterback position. Even if the ‘Skins were to select Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota as some have suggested, he’s unlikely to see the field this early. If Washington stands pat at the QB position, an inconsistent Robert Griffin III hasn’t been the same player he was early in his career since suffering a knee injury two seasons ago.
Week 7- @ New England Patriots 1 PM: The first meeting with the defending super bowl champs will take place in week seven. The Patriots will once again face the Jets with a Darrelle Revis/Antonio Cromartie duo at cornerback which is a significant improvement over what the Jets went to war with last season. With Revis and Brandon Browner departing this offseason, Bill Belicick will have his work cut out for him, but does anybody really think he won’t find a way to win 10-12 games?
Week 8- @ Oakland Raiders 4:05 PM- Nobody likes long-haul flights to the west coast, but if you have to do it then you want it to be against a team like the Raiders. Of course anything can happen on game day and you can never rule anything out with the Jets, this is a team the Jets beat last season with Antonio Allen and Darrin Walls starting at cornerback.
Week 9- Jacksonville Jaguars 1 PM- The Jaguars are still a young team and coming off of a putrid 2014. Having no way of knowing what type of progress quarterback Blake Bortles will have made, this may be appealing to Jets fans at first, but the Jags’ should be better, and improved QB play could see them become a tougher opponent than expected.
Week 10- Buffalo Bills 8:25 PM– In a much-anticipated showdown, former Jets head coach Rex Ryan comes back to MetLife stadium for what’s sure to be an intense meeting. Ryan’s early success in New York is a distant memory as he now comes back as the enemy. Armed with one of the best defenses in the NFL, an emerging star at wide receiver in Sammy Watkins, and a running back who has amassed over 3,000 yards on the ground over the past two seasons in Lesean McCoy, look for the Jets to play aggressive football against a squad that barring a mega-deal between now and opening day, will not have a top-notch quarterback.
Week 11- @Houston Texans 1 PM- Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick returns to Houston where he started twelve games, throwing 17 toucdowns and 8 interceptions last season. It will also be a homecoming for Jets GM Mike Maccagnan who was most recently employed by the Texans before being plucked away by the Jets. Given the inconsistent play of RT Breno Giacomini last season, the thought of matching up against JJ Watt is scary.
Week 12- Miami Dolphins 1 PM- The Jets get the Dolphins at home in week twelve in a game that will hopefully have no resemblance to last year’s MetLife showdown in which starting quarterback Geno Smith was limited to just 8 pass attempts before the two-minute warning in a 16-13 loss.
Week 13- @New York Giants 1 PM- A rare meeting of MetLife’s co-tenants takes place in week 13 as Jets fans collectively hope to avoid a fate similar to the last time the two teams met when Victor Cruz had a 99-yard catch and run for a TD in a 29-14 Giants win. This game is a bonus for Jets fans who can’t get enough Gang Green. Every franchise in the NFL, Jets and Giants included, have their fair share of casual fans who may be willing to dump their tickets to make a quick buck…great chance for the Jets faithful to take in an extra game.
Week 14- Tennessee Titans 1 PM – If either of these two teams play anywhere close to their 2014 level, this week 14 contest will be another snooze fest. The Titans are another team gushing about Mariota and could be in position to select him with the second pick. Likely a smoke screen, but if they to select the Oregon product he may very well be on the field by this point in the season.
Week 15- @ Dallas Cowboys 8:25 PM- The Jets’ fourth and final prime time game of the season comes in Dallas on a Saturday night. Their re-built offensive line has made Dallas a force to be reckoned with. It’s these late season games that tend to have big playoff implications for at least one franchise. Darrelle Revis vs. Dez Bryant should be worth the price of admission.
Week 16- New England Patriots 1 PM- The second of two match-ups which will likely be a much tougher challenge for the Jets than the first time around comes in week sixteen. Of the 50 games the Patriots have lost this century, fifteen have come in September. Once the season gets rolling, so do the Pats.
Week 17- @ Buffalo Bills 1 PM: Closing out the season against Ryan’s Bills in what could be a battle for a playoff spot, fans of both teams will be on edge. The Jets and Bills are loaded on defense but have questions surrounding the quarterback position. Given the personnel and reputation of the respective coaches, these games could easily be decided by a last-second field goal.