The 2017 New York Jets have their marching orders. Gang Green’s Regular Season schedule was released this week so let’s take a way too early look at how it shakes out. Doing this last season, Cover32 Jets was able to cleanly predict the ugly start to the Jets ’16 campaign. I do not foresee being able to do that this season with so much of the roster turned over and the draft yet to come. As a whole, the Jets will face 7 playoff teams from 2016, have a late bye week (11) and by me count, face off with six different top end Quarterbacks. On the positive side, they get their longest road trip over with by Week Two and get to spend Christmas at home. For now, let’s just peek:
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Weeks One – Four: at Buffalo Bills, at Oakland Raiders, vs Miami Dolphins and vs Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jets begin the season with their bags packed for two straight road games, something they haven’t had to do since the 1992 season. Week One will have the Jets facing off against a Buffalo team with a new head coach (Sean McDermott) and a crowd that is always fired up for divisional games. I see Buffalo as a sleeper playoff contender and this as a possible statement game for them. Cross country traveling to Oakland for Week Two where the Raiders fancy themselves Super Bowl contenders. If they truly do, they will need to treat the Jets like the lesser team that they are. The Jets finally come home for a Week Three tilt with the Dolphins, another team that will likely contend in 2017. Rounding out the first quarter of the season is a home game with the enigmatic Jaguars. A really optimist approach to these four matchups could see a 2-2 start, while 1-3 is more likely.
Weeks Five – Eight: at Cleveland Browns, vs New England Patriots, at Miami Dolphins and vs Atlanta Falcons
In a four week stretch, the Jets will face 2016’s worst team and its two best teams. While we continue to see the Browns on the schedule for Week Five as a “gimme” W, remember that the rest of the league see the Jets as the same thing nowadays. Week Six and the Patriots may showcase just how large the gap is between the two franchises at this point. Heading to South Beach for the ‘Phins and then Atlanta to face the NFC Champion Falcons round out an extremely difficult first half schedule. Halfway home, I find it hard to see this team as anything more than 2-6, just like 2016.
Weeks Nine – Twelve: vs Buffalo Bills, at Tampa Bay Bucs, BYE WEEK, vs Carolina Panthers, vs Kansas City Chiefs
The third quarter to the season is where I feel we may see the winds of change start to blow for the franchise. If they limp into this stretch and then were to fall to division opponent Buffalo at home and/or the Bucs in Tampa, I could like the front office using the Week Eleven Bye to strategically reorganize from top down. If by then, the team is sitting at two or three wins and looks like a rudderless ship, head coach Todd Bowles will likely be relieved of duties and whatever young QB(s) are on the roster will be put under center. At some point, the page will need to be turned. Only problem is, you would bring that young Quarterback in to face a tough KC squad.
Weeks Thirteen – Seventeen: at Denver Broncos, at New Orleans Saints, vs LA Chargers, at New England Patriots
The Jets final four games may be their toughest four week stretch. Going to Denver is never a simple trip given the conditions and their vaunted Defense. Heading to New Orleans is just as tall a task to stop their high powered offense. Also figure that the Broncos and Saints will both still likely be contending for the playoffs at that point. Christmas Eve with the Chargers will likely be more a nuisance to fans than something to delve into. Finally, wrapping up the season with a trip to see Tom Brady as they prep for another playoff run never turns out well. At least this final quarter of the season may include a young Quarterback to wrap our arms around?
All and all, while I know it is not something Jets fans want to hear, it is likely something they already know; it is going to be rough season with a poor outcome. But the only thing worse than having a lost season, is having one where you still don’t know what is on your roster. It is absolutely imperative that the 2017 Jets figure out what they have in Christian Hackenberg, Devin Smith and Darron Lee just to name a few. Veterans with hurt feelings have no place on a rebuilding team and make no mistake, that is what the Jets are. My not-so fearless forecast is a 3-13 season and a top 3 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.