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Why it’s okay to dream as a New York Jets fan in 2024

Aaron Rodgers, Joe Namath, New York Jets
Aaron Rodgers, Joe Namath, New York Jets, Getty Images

It’s been a long time since New York Jets fans could realistically dream

If you’re a New York Jets fan, you’re a dreamer by nature.

Or you’re a masochist.

A tortured fan base watches their team break their hearts or just flat-out stink year in and year out. In some ways, 2023 was an all-time low: the expectations were massive, but the reality was one of the worst offensive performances in NFL history.

Given that history, it’s easy to temper expectations going into a season. After all, these are the Same Old Jets. The laughingstock of the NFL. The team that brings in Aaron Rodgers and then falls apart. The Nathaniel Hackett drama city.

If a fan wants to keep their expectations low, that’s their prerogative. But if there’s any season to dream, it’s this one.

There are so many reasons for Jets fans to hope this year. The rest of the league could ignore them — so much the better. The less fanfare, the more doubt surrounding this team, the better the chances that something actually goes right.

Top-notch roster

Yes, there are injury concerns. But on paper, this is the best Jets roster in decades, perhaps ever. In 2023, the hype was there because of Rodgers, but the flaws were evident. While the Jets’ depth isn’t perfect, it’s one of the best in the league. ESPN analytics writer Mike Clay ranked them the second-best roster in the NFL.

There aren’t too many triplets with higher potential than Rodgers, Breece Hall, and Garrett Wilson. Hall could become the league’s best back in 2024. Tyron Smith and Alijah Vera-Tucker highlight the talent of an offensive line that could be one of the league’s top units — certainly good enough to support an excellent offense.

And that’s with a defense that has been top-five in the league in back-to-back seasons. Quinnen Williams, Sauce Gardner, Quincy Williams, and Haason Reddick lead a star-studded unit. It may look different in 2024, but with a better offense, the ceiling is even higher.

Manageable schedule

The Jets avoid many of the league’s best teams this season, including the Chiefs, Ravens, and Bengals. While eight of their 17 games are against 2023 playoff teams, their strength of schedule ranks among the league’s easiest. They face many teams with uncertain or young quarterback situations, including the Patriots twice, Broncos, Titans, Steelers, and Vikings. Their division rivals have seemingly gotten weaker this offseason.

Strength of schedule never works out the way it seems before the season, but on paper, this should be a slate the Jets can dominate. Accordingly, they are favored in 14 of their 17 games, the most in team history.

Reasonable success with terrible QB play

The Jets have won seven games in back-to-back seasons with the worst quarterback play in the NFL. They beat the Bills once each in 2022-23 with Zach Wilson under center. They nearly beat the Chiefs with the very same Wilson. While any given Sunday holds true in the NFL, this is a Jets team that was below-average quarterbacking away from making the playoffs, especially in 2022. They likely could have made the playoffs with Tyrod Taylor at the helm. Now, they have a four-time NFL MVP.

It’s worth noting that before Rodgers broke his finger at the end of the Packers’ Week 5 loss to the Giants in the 2022 season, he ranked in the top 5-to-10 among quarterbacks in most offensive categories. An Achilles tear is wildly different from a broken thumb, but there’s no sign of decline in Rodgers’ arm. If he can stay healthy, there’s reason to expect him to play at least to the level of a top-10 quarterback.

This Jets offensive talent + elite defense + top-1o quarterback play = legitimate championship aspirations.

It’s now or never

The time is ticking on Rodgers and the Jets. He claims he wants to play several more seasons, but few passers can succeed into their 40s. Moreover, many of their stars are coming ever closer to second contracts, which could cripple the Jets’ cap. They signed stopgap players in Mike Williams and Tyron Smith.

If you’re going to dream as a Jets fan, now is the year to do it. It always takes a confluence of improbable circumstances for a team (not named the Chiefs, anyway) to win a Super Bowl.

Why not the Jets?

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Noam
Noam
21 days ago

Is it really OK to dream and have expectations? After so many dissapoints from the Jimmy the Greek picking us to go to the SB after drafting Lam Jones, to the mud bowl, to Vinny’s Achilles, Chad’s injury, Obrien missing two kicks, Sanchez playing like Sanchez and then the hype of Darnold. Wilson and then last year. Can we still really expect nice things under our Xmas tree after so many years of gag gifts?

That being said yes I am excited. The 2008 team was arguably the most talented roster we ever had with 12 pro bowl or pro bowl alternate. This teams roster rivals that 2008 team. It is good to be excited even if I still expect the worst.

Thanks for the positive article Rivka.

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