I listen to the Around the NFL podcast on a weekly basis, I love it, I think it's the perfect mixture between entertainment and football insight. One of the presenters is a Jets fan (Dan Hanzus) and recently they were discussing the Jets and the overriding feeling was that the season was already over, the Jets were done, they had no hope, why even turn up on the Sunday.
It's hard to dispute the opinion that the Jets have experienced a very difficult off-season. It started in euphoric fashion, we got a players head coach who came on the back of a good season in Arizona, an assistant coach of the year award and several recommendations by respectable NFL minds. We brought in a GM who had a background in scouting and player personnel. Our off-season included the addition of Pro Bowlers Brandon Marshall, Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie among others. We selected a game-breaking WR and the arguably the best player in the NFL draft, life was good as a Jets fan, and optimism was at fever pitch.
In true jets fashion, the euphoria was short lived, at least for some.
News spread that Sheldon Richardson, the star defensive lineman and former defensive rookie of the year would be suspended for the first four games of the season, and then later in the off-season we heard of a traffic violation which involved both a minor and a ridiculous lack of judgment on his part.The Jets would need to dominate without their star lineman.
Then game the Geno Smith incident. I haven't commented too much on this because it was so immature, it was so childish, and just astounded me that two grown men could get into an altercation like this and that one grown man would turn to physical violence. It was another dent in the bodywork of what was looking pretty good at one point. Our starting QB was done for the time being, and will miss the start of the new season.
Then comes news that our starting guard from last year is suspended for the opening game of the 2015 NFL season. He unlike Richardson reported the incident to the team, but it didn't make up for the fact that he was suspended. So we're down one star defensive lineman, one starting QB and one starting guard. Not the best start to the renaissance period the team had hoped to experience.
Following all this, I see many writing the Jets off. They're still a circus, they're a laughing stock, they won't win, they can't win, it's embarrassing.
However last night i was sitting down with a Blue Moon and I couldn't help but feel optimistic. The media try and push public opinion one way or another, sensationalist headlines displace real football analyses. However just because they shout louder, doesn't make them right. Here I am saying they are wrong.
It's not been an easy off-season but football isn't easy, they'll face tougher tasks this season than answering difficult questions. Sheldon was immature but the team have said that they are looking to help him, not just be a better football player but be a responsible adult, who makes better choices. They limited his time with the first-team and offered no excuses for his actions.
Following the Geno incident, the players and coaching staff came together to put a lid on it. Comments were limited and everyone was singing from the same sheet, unanimous sources from certain journalists reared their head, but with no names, they have no credibility, so they can be disregarded. Geno was sent for surgery and when he was seen practicing outside his apartment, the team addressed it with him. IK Enemkpali was cut the moment the details of his assault were uncovered, there is no place in society for his actions, let lone a football team who have to rely and depend on each other every single Sunday.
Oday Aboushi let everyone down and he was relegated to the 3rd team, presumably as a punishment. He'll need to earn the respect of his team mates and his coaches back, and fight for every single snap. There isn't anything wrong with that, it's just called being accountable, and that's the key word for this off-season.
The Jets have experienced a very difficult off-season so far. However the key men have come through this with both their reputations and credibility intact. Todd Bowles has had to face some very awkward questions throughout the off-season, a seasoned coach would find it difficult to deal with what he's had to deal with, but yet he's always had the right answer, as a rookie head coach. Same can be said with Mike Maccagnan.
The Jets aren't a joke, they're not a circus and they're certainly not embarrassing. The Jets have navigated the off-season limiting collateral damage while maintaining a professional structure for dealing with problems. If anything, I have more respect for the team, I have more time for the team and I have more confidence in their direction. Now it's time to put it all together on the football field and I have faith we had the right team to do that.