The New York Jets came into 2017 with “the worst odds ever to win the Super Bowl” as well as plenty of negative speculation from so-called “experts” who confidently predicted this team as 0-16 caliber.
And while Jets nation will likely never let that go, especially now that the Jets are 4-5 and still capable of making a playoff run, it’s not just those bold statements that are fueling the players and fans night-in and night-out, but it’s the opportunities that that have sprouted around them.
— Ƒunhouse (@BackAftaThis) November 3, 2017
A so-called “rebuild” was somewhat evident to the eyes of everyone after 2016 didn’t quite go the way the Jets had planned. A mildly successful 2015 with veterans Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, and Darelle Revis, had the same current speculators praising the Jets in 2016. The team was destined to redeem itself after falling out of playoff contention the year prior in a heart breaking Week 17 loss.
But the Jets didn’t show up. The team managed to finish at a lousy 5-11, and the Jets’ front office didn’t see an immediate future with any of their veteran essentials.
A full-house-sweep saw many big-time Jets rocking different uniforms in the offseason and into 2017. The Jets were now a team of no names.
Or so they thought.
The Jets took a gamble in the draft by taking two safeties with their first two picks. While both of them, Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, were top prospects, many couldn’t identify what the Jets were attempting to do, especially since their offense was now the most lacking.
But things began panning out quick. After dropping their first two games of 2017, the tank supporting speculators were high on their pedestal. And while many acknowledged that the first building blocks were there for the Jets, many did not forsee the immediate impact these stepping stones would have.
Romo and Nantz on #Jets’ surprising decision to draft back-to-back safeties: “It’s looking like a genius move.”
— Kimberley A. Martin (@ByKimberleyA) November 3, 2017
And when I say that, I don’t mean to only reference the impact that Adams and Maye have made on the field, but rather the cultural shift that has become evident in the Jets, and the success that has spewed out from it.
What do I mean, you ask? Well the truth comes with a grain of salt. The Jets really don’t have any standout, play-making threats this year – or at least on paper they don’t. That is likely why so many projected this team as one of the league’s worst. “Who’s going to be a difference maker down the stretch?” they’d ask.
It was fair to ask. I mean, with emerging star receiver Quincy Enunwa suffering a season-ending injury in the offseason, the Jets were looking shallow at best. The team was structure of inexperienced youngsters led by a veteran quarterback who simply hasn’t had the most successful career.
But the Jets embraced this negativity with an unconventional mindset, and it has only been working in their favor.
The so-called spotlight that was, for a while, focused on aged veterans from the Jets roster, was now up for grabs. It didn’t belong to anyone until someone rightfully claimed it, and the players didn’t take this lightly.
As the team has progressed through 2017, we’ve seen excelled development simply due to this cultural shift. We’ve seen individuals all over the Jets’ roster fall into the spotlight, and it has been well deserved as the organization continues to apply the pressure.
Players such as Robby Anderson, Jordan Jenkins, Darron Lee, Elijah McGuire, Kony Ealy, Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye, and even Josh McCown have stepped up under the pressure, and that’s exactly what the Jets have been hoping for.
With no one individual being the relied on work horse, the Jets have been able to put the ball in the court of the players, allowing them to develop as play-makers, leaders, and most surprisingly – winners.
A pair of sacks, a pair of TFLs, a pair of QB hits and a forced fumble.@jordanOLB is the AFC Defensive Player of the Week!
— New York Jets (@nyjets) November 8, 2017
The Jets have used this season as a keg tapper. The keg being the roster of no name players they came in with, and each game as a taste test to see what kind of potential lies within. It is a different type of high-risk, high-reward outlook than most teams fall back on.
In that perspective, most teams utilize the same method that the Jets tried to rely on for so long. The spotlight stays shining on one or two players, and the team culture is built around that fixation. It’s a different type of high-risk, high-reward outlook simply because most of the time, when those players fall out of the spotlight, the pieces surrounding them are not prepared to step up. We’ve seen this most recently with the fall of Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, and in other similar situations throughout the league.
In short, the Jets have strayed away from that perspective. The pressure is now spread out across a team of inexperienced players, whether they have been unsuccessful in the past or are just new to the game in general. It is quite a gamble for a team to take, but the Jets have truly embraced it, making them that much more respectable.
For whether or not they continue their push to the playoffs in 2017, it is impossible to ignore the accomplishments of this team, especially with their expanding competitive nature. While you could still consider it a “rebuild,” it is truly more of a development, in both the stature of the players, and the cultural mindset of the organization.
– Kyle Hirshkind is the Managing Editor for cover32/Jets and covers the New York Jets. He is also a weekly contributor to cover32/Fantasy. Like and follow on Follow @kylehirshkind