For a New York Jets fan the NFL preseason is when Hope Floats. Because once the season starts, Reality Bites. But this year promises to be different. Every summer I pore over the NYJ roster and analyze each game on the schedule. Inevitably I convince myself that the Jets will be either a 10-6 playoff team or a 6-10 bust. To hope for more than 10 wins is Quixotic, to predict more than 10 losses is masochistic.
This year they may well go 10-6 but I believe the Jets will make it to the Super Bowl. Here’s why I believe that we will win:
- I believe in psychic moments: The only question mark in the Jets’ defense is the backfield. Last week my son Jack and I were discussing how Jets cornerback Dee Milliner needs to step it up after a rocky first season in which he was benched multiple times yet won AFC Defensive Player of the Week and NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month. The next day, in a raffle at an Els for Autism charity event, I won an autographed Dee Milliner jersey. Good omen!
- I believe in Jason Babin: The guy has 62.5 career sacks! OK, so he has played for seven teams in ten years after being a first round pick in 2004. OK, so he was cut this year by the Jaguars, one of the worst teams in the league. Sounds like the perfect Jet to me. But with Mo Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson tying up the opponent’s O-line, I can see Babin and LB Calvin Pace racing each other to the QB and driving him into the ground like the golden stake that completed the transcontinental railroad.
- I believe in Chris Johnson: Redemption is a powerful motivator. The Jets offensive line is one of the best at opening holes for RBs. How else do you think Chris Ivory ran for more than 800 yards and Bilal Powell rushed for almost 700 yards last season? Bilal who? Plus, CJ2K is a very cool nickname. I would be happy if CJ1K shows up this year.
- I believe in the Jets’ legion of no-name receivers: Eric Decker needs to prove that he can win without Peyton. Steven Hill needs to prove that he is more Ali (tall, fast, tough) than Duran (“Manos de Piedra”). Otherwise Jet GM John Idzik will yell “No mas” and throw in the towel on Hill. Relieved of the need to be the featured receiver, Jeremy Kerley can now channel his inner Wayne Chrebet and get open from the slot. Out of the slew of receivers drafted this year (Jace Amaro, Jalen Saunders, Shaq Evans, Quincy Enunwa) somebody has to be good. Who knows, maybe David Nelson and Jacoby Ford will finally break out this year.
- I believe in the cough drop quarterbacks—Smith and Vick: They are mirror images of each other and if each can stay healthy for eight games (hopefully not the same eight games), Jet fans will be treated to offensive exploits not seen since the days of Kenny O’Brien, Freeman NcNeil, and Wesley Walker. Both can run, both can throw deep, and both turn the ball over. Two out of three ain’t bad.
- I believe in Jets head coach Rex Ryan. His guys love him and play hard for him. He is fun to watch and gives great interviews. His defense could be the best in the AFC this year—good enough to carry the offense to the Super Bowl. But I admit he sometimes misses the obvious play: As soon as the Jets cut Mark Sanchez, Rex should have insisted that Geno Smith switch from wearing his #7 jersey to Sanchez’s #6. Then Rex’s tattoo of his wife wearing nothing but a #6 Jets jersey would be relevant again; instead it’s a sad reminder of how quickly the high hopes of Sanchez’s first two seasons faded into memories of the butt fumble in his last. But that’s nothing a Super Bowl win can’t cure…