Often times in the NFL coaches will stress the importance of setting the tone early in a game or in a quarter in order to let the opponent know that they cannot push you around and that it is going to be a long afternoon for them. The 2015 Jets need to have this mindset from the first game, September 13 vs the Cleveland Browns.
The 2015 Jets are filled with so much hope and promise, yet they have a tortured fan base who is always waiting for disaster to strike and for a season full of hopes and dreams to be shattered like a dropped glass. Many experts have the Jets in second or even third place and out of the postseason due to lingering doubts about Geno Smith. However, this Jets team has so many weapons on both sides of the ball that unless Smith decides to completely fall apart and just throw interceptions at every turn, it is difficult to see how this team won’t be competitive. In order to keep the fan base and the media off of their back and out of their heads, the Jets need to start strong.
The Jets play their first ever game in London against the hated Miami Dolphins on October 4, and therefore have a bye week the following week in Week 5. This early bye week will challenge the team, as the Jets have a relentless schedule following the bye week. Before the bye week, the Jets have the Cleveland Browns at home in Week 1, then travel to play the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night, before playing the Philadelphia Eagles at home in Week 3, and then go to London the following week. The Jets need to try to go 3-1 and really show that they are legit playoff contenders. It will not be easy, as the Colts, Eagles, and Dolphins are solid contenders this season.
New York need to make a statement, which they can do by going and beating the Colts on Monday night, or by beating the Eagles. With a brutal schedule that features the NFC East, and the improved AFC East teams twice a season, the Jets need to focus on getting off to a great start. The division is improved however, the Bills do not have a starting quarterback yet, Tom Brady will likely be suspended for the Patriots for a few games, and Ryan Tannehill has not proven he can win many big games.
Gang Green need to come out and attack the early part of their schedule while the new look Bills try to find an identity and while the Patriots face the possibility of life without Tom Brady under center for a few games.
While it is important to set the tone early, the Jets also need to win some big games against quality opponents to show their fans that this time is legitimately a threat to win back the AFC East from the Patriots. Some of the Jets top opponents this season are the Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, and the New York Giants (not counting the divisional opponents, who are always a challenge). These are the four games that Jets fans should watch closely as the Colts, Eagles, and Cowboys are Super Bowl Contenders, while the Giants are on the rise with their superstar wide receiver tandem in Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz, along with Eli Manning at quarterback.
If the Jets can play well in these four games and win three out four of those games, then fans should be able to see that this team has what it takes. Four of out the last five regular season games for the Jets are against the Giants, Cowboys, Patriots, and Bills, so this stretch will likely make or break the Jets postseason hopes. If the team can string together some early wins, they will not have to put so much pressure on themselves to win every game against these fierce opponents.
As long as the players accept and learn the new systems of Head Coach Todd Bowles and Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey, the new secondary gels together, and Geno Smith connects with Brandon Marshall and does not turn the football over, there is no reason why this Jets team cannot contend. It all starts by building confidence amongst the team and the fans by getting off to a great start and quieting all the doubters, and making people believe that this team is the team with the best hope of returning to the Super Bowl since the 2010 Jets, who fell just short in the AFC Championship Game.
Let’s hope this team will not fall short for the fans and give fans the Super Bowl title that they (and your author) so desperately want and deserve.