Prior to the 2013-2014 NFL season, the consensus around the league, largely made by media outlets, was that the New York Jets would win 4-5 games, be the doldrum of the AFC and get their head coach Rex Ryan fired. At the end of the day, none of those things would happen. New York wound up going 8-8, finishing second in the AFC East, with a rookie quarterback in Geno Smith who was surrounded by virtually no offensive weapons, and kept their favorite head coach in the process.
After adding offensive threats in Eric Decker, Chris Johnson, Michael Vick and Jacoby Ford via free agency as well as Jace Amaro, Jalen Saunders and Shaquille Evans in the draft throughout the offseason, the prototypical thought, you would think, would be that the Jets are going to be an improved team in the upcoming 2014-2015 season. However, the thought still remains among some parties that the Jets are a team where there's constant drama, turnover and madness throughout—a narrative I believe to be long outdated.
"Eight-and-eight would be a hell of a disappointment for us," Ryan told the New York Daily News' Manish Mehta. "I'm just telling you that I believe this team is on the cusp of doing some special things. ... I'm confident we will be a playoff team."
In the recent days since Ryan made these comments it has led to a great deal of speculation by some in the football world. Some have cited this as "Rex being the old Rex" while others have gone as far as laughing at another prediction from Gang Green's boisterous man in charge.
These predictions or—forgive the pun—rex-pectations made by Ryan, in my opinion, aren't bold at all. While some believe the Jets to have overachieved last season, and perhaps they did, at the end of the day they were an 8-8 team with a severe lack of talent. The front line of the defense is the best aspect of this team, no question, and while there are lingering questions about the secondary, the potential of cornerback Dee Milliner and rookie safety Calvin Pryor is likely enough to make this defense one of the better ones in the league.
The offense will always be a question mark with this team until shown otherwise, but with a progressing young quarterback in Geno Smith, not to mention a security blanket behind him in veteran QB Michael Vick, running backs Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson, tight ends Jeff Cumberland and Jace Amaro and receivers Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill, Jalen Saunders and Shaq Evans, among others, all on this roster, it's hard not to believe that the Jets are going to improve in this category as well.
This is not the Rex Ryan of old, promises parades and trips to the White House. This is a man confident in his team enough to say he believes they can make a run into and throughout the postseason. Forward? Maybe so. Bold? Not even a little.