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New York Jets are getting the right kind of hype in 2024

Robert Saleh, NY Jets, HC, Predictions, Projections
Robert Saleh, New York Jets, Getty Images

This year’s hype is different than last year’s for the New York Jets

It felt like the New York Jets crumbled under the weight of their heavy expectations in 2023.

When Greg Zuerlein kicked the ball off at 8:15 p.m. ET on September 11, 2023 in front of an emotional, boisterous MetLife Stadium crowd, the hype was palpable throughout the building. You could feel it coursing through your body. Even if you were watching from home, the energy traveled through the television screen and into your bones. Things felt different; in an exciting way, but also in a way that created an undeniable sense of pressure. The Jets had to rise to this moment.

And they didn’t. It only took four offensive plays until the Jets could no longer bear the weight on their shoulders.

I’m not blaming the immeasurable build-up into Week 1 for Aaron Rodgers’ injury. Not at all.

However, given how quickly things collapsed for the Jets after Rodgers’ injury, a harsh reality was revealed: Even if Rodgers were to last through the season, the Jets probably would not have come close to justifying the hype that shrouded them entering Week 1.

The rest of the season taught us that the Jets were always destined to underwhelm, regardless of Rodgers’ health. While there’s no doubt that Rodgers likely would have added another 2-3 wins at the minimum, the next 16.99 games after his injury displayed countless weaknesses on the roster that still would have existed if he were on the field. Even if he avoided the catastrophic Achilles tear, there is no guarantee he would have played the full season, given how atrocious the offensive line was.

The hype leading into the Jets’ 2023 season opener was never rooted in substance. It was all based around one simple formula: 7-win Jets team with elite defense + Aaron Rodgers = Super Bowl. 

While that was a reasonable formula to base your projections around (considering how bad the Jets’ quarterbacking was in 2022), the quarterback position was far from the only issue that hurt the Jets in 2022. What about the offensive line? What about the depth at wide receiver, tight end, and running back? What about the coaching? To nitpick on the defense, what about the safety position?

Not one of those issues was sufficiently addressed in the 2023 offseason. After acquiring Rodgers, the Jets were essentially content to call it an offseason – save for squeezing a few of Rodgers’ cronies into undeserved roles and appeasing casual fans by signing a washed-up Dalvin Cook. The Rodgers hype swept their negligent complacency under the rug. But if we ignored the hype and analyzed their roster objectively, we probably would have seen the disappointment coming.

The Jets’ roster was not ready to compete for a championship last year. Yet, due to the Rodgers trade and all of the headline-grabbing drama that came with it – Sauce’s cheesehead sacrifice, fans tracking the Jets’ flight to California, Rodgers’ Pat McAfee announcement, the drawn-out trade conversations with Green Bay, Rodgers’ NYC sports tour, and of course, Hard Knocks – the Jets were burdened with unrealistic expectations they were not built to live up to.

A different type of hype in 2024

Fast forward to 2024. Today, the conversation around the Jets is far different.

The same national media outlets that forced the Jets down everybody’s throats in 2023 are now hesitant to buy into their potential. Many of the biggest football personalities openly despise Rodgers – and the entire Jets team along with him. Pro-Jets propaganda is not as omnipresent in the mainstream conversation as it was last year. If the team is talked about on a national stage, it’s usually in a negative way.

On the contrary, the Jets are receiving an incredible amount of hype from analysis-based outlets and writers.

Pro Football Focus is infatuated with this roster. PFF’s X account constantly lauds the Jets for having one of the NFL’s best rosters. This is to the chagrin of casual fans around the league, but Jets fans know that PFF does not have a bias in favor of this team. They’ve notoriously underrated the Jets in the past, most notably being bullied by fans into boosting Quinnen Williams’ grade for a game in 2022. The fact that they are ranking the Jets so highly means they truly believe it.

via X/@PFF
via X/@PFF

PFF thinks the Jets have the No. 1 unit at all three levels of the defense. They also have the Jets’ offensive line ranked fifth-best in the NFL, making it their top-ranked unit in the AFC East.

PFF isn’t alone in its lofty praise of the Jets’ roster. ESPN analytics expert Mike Clay ranked the Jets’ overall roster as the NFL’s second-best behind only the 49ers, and he even predicted New York to win the Super Bowl.

This type of praise was nowhere to be found in 2023. PFF and Clay viewed the Jets’ roster as solid with a healthy Rodgers, but neither was as wildly optimistic about the team as they are now. Their optimism is a response to a supremely active offseason in which the Jets addressed all of the holes they ignored one year ago.

If you’re a Jets fan, you should be thrilled about the difference between the current discourse around the team and last year’s.

All of the excitement in 2023 stemmed from Rodgers’ arrival and Rodgers’ arrival alone. This year, the excitement is rooted in substance. Jets fans have the right to be optimistic because the team is overflowing with talent. Plain and simple. Fans don’t need to have a shiny toy dangled in their faces to distract them from the half-empty toybox it was pulled out of.

The Jets still have to prove themselves on the field. Nothing means anything until the games are played. Plenty of NFL teams have fallen short of expectations despite having a great roster on paper. Still, the end of that previous sentence is what matters: The Jets do have a great roster. It’s undeniable.

Will it lead to wins? Who knows. But for the first time in well over a decade, the Jets clearly have one of the strongest all-around rosters in the NFL. That was not the case last year.

So, Jets fans, don’t let the disappointment of 2023 deter you from being excited in 2024. This is a much different type of hype. It’s fact-based hype. Embrace it. Get amped up. Talk some trash to rival fanbases. You’re allowed to do these things now. Because if it all blows up yet again, at least you can say your optimism wasn’t delusional.

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