I have Sept. 12 circled on my calendar.
That Tuesday is going to feature the most overreactions in Jets team history.
Week 1 of the NFL season always causes overreactions. But nothing is going to compare to this season for the Jets. If they beat the Bills on Monday Night Football at MetLife Stadium, you won’t be able to stop the Super Bowl talk. If they lose? The green and white sky will be falling.
So, here comes a word of caution about the 2023 Jets: Be patient.
I know, I know. Saying that to Jets fans is like telling a 5-year-old on Christmas morning to wait for his little sister before ripping open presents.
Jets fans are starving for wins. We all know the timeline. It’s been 12 years without the playoffs, seven years without a winning season. There have been coaches and quarterbacks Jets fans want to forget.
And now here comes Aaron Rodgers to save the day with “Hard Knocks” filming the revolution.
But these Jets might get off to a slow start and it is something every Jets fan should brace themselves for.
This offense has a lot of new pieces, starting with Rodgers. Yes, he is one of the best quarterbacks of all time, but even he may need some time to form chemistry with his new teammates. Some of that is happening now, but various players have missed time because of injury, and it is quite possible the entire starting offense may not get a snap together before facing the Bills, especially if Breece Hall is the starting running back that night.
New offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and offensive line coach Keith Carter are putting in a new system that is going to take some time to adjust to.
Allen Lazard, Mecole Hardman and Randall Cobb all will have big roles and while Lazard and Cobb know Rodgers well, the entire receiving corps may take some time to jell.
Then, there is the offensive line. You’ve heard enough in recent days about their struggles. This is not so much about their struggles, but them having enough time to become a cohesive unit.
Left tackle Duane Brown has not practiced. Max Mitchell and Billy Turner have been flipping between left and right tackle. It is possible that Alijah Vera-Tucker slides from guard to tackle. Mekhi Becton could do enough to merit consideration as a starter.
If the offensive line had a relationship status, it would be: it’s complicated.
Throw in the opening schedule for the Jets and things could get bumpy. The first six games before the bye week are: Bills, at Cowboys, Patriots, Chiefs, at Broncos and Eagles. That is four of the eight teams that played in the Divisional round in last year’s playoffs.
The Chiefs and Eagles were the Super Bowl participants. The “easy” games here are the Patriots, who have only beaten the Jets 14 straight times, and the Broncos, who have new coach Sean Payton trying to revive Russell Wilson. That game in Denver is also now one of the most anticipated in the NFL season, thanks to Payton’s slam on Hackett and the Jets.
If the Jets can go 3-3 in those six games, they should be thrilled. The back half of the schedule eases up and they can make a playoff run.
It remains to be seen if the Jets starters play at all in the preseason. Jets coach Robert Saleh left open the possibility that Rodgers could play against the Giants.
The preseason has become about the bottom of the roster and players trying to prove they belong. That has led to September feeling a bit like the preseason as teams try to iron things out.
Jets fans should not fret if the team starts slow. All they need to do is remember some recent starts by Tom Brady and the Patriots. It felt like we were writing the obituary of the dynasty almost every year, only for New England to then put it together and make a Super Bowl run.
Remember the storyline after the 41-14 loss to the Chiefs in 2014? BRADY IS DONE … not so much. The Patriots started 2-2 in 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2018. The Patriots won the division in all of those years and made it to the Super Bowl in 2014, ’17 and ’18, winning it all in ’14 and ’18.
The overreactions are sure to come if the Jets stumble in September. But try to keep things in perspective. It may take a few weeks for this offense to come together. It’s a long season.
That will be hard to remember on Sept. 12. I may need to take a personal day.