Somewhere along the line the bitter sting of missing the playoffs last season turned into hope for the future. It happened right around the time Ryan Fitzpatrick finally re-signed and the Jets looked around and saw most of the same pieces they had last year.
That was especially true on offense, where most of the key players return and veteran running back Matt Forte is added to the mix. Yes, it took a career year from Fitzpatrick to propel the Jets to 10-6 last season. But he doesn't see the Jets' record-setting offensive season as an anomaly. He believes "we've got some stuff we can build on from last year."
"Just from reviewing last year, there's so many things we can get better at," Fitzpatrick said. "We did some things well. I thought by the end of the year we were playing decent. But you sit and you look at all the missed opportunities from last year and there's a lot of ways we can get better. There's a lot of ways we can stay on the field and sustain drives better. Some of the red zone stuff, whether it's missed throws or missed opportunities, there's a lot that we left out on the field last year."
If that's true, this could be shaping up as another special season for the Jets, even with the brutal start to their schedule. We'll find out for sure when the regular season begins in five days. And when it does, you can follow it all at SNY.tv/Jets, or by following me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RalphVacchianoSNY) or Twitter (@RVacchianoSNY).
In the meantime, I'll try to answer a few of your questions now:
How many touches can Forte expect? -- @zamboniracer
The answer is probably: As many as he can handle. It sure looks like the Jets plan to make him their No. 1 running back, using Bilal Powell as a change-of-pace. And they want to use Forte as a runner and as a receiver out of the backfield, adding some diversity to their offensive scheme.
In the third preseason game against the Giants, the Jets went to Forte on five of their first eight offensive plays and never stopped. He rushed 10 times (for 28 yards) and was targeted three times (and caught two passes). Of course, that was his first action with the Jets and some of that may have been Todd Bowles wanting to push him a little and see what he can do in the offense. It was the only preseason game he played.
Forte averaged about 17 rushes and three catches per game last season with the Bears, and that sounds about right. Some games he'll get a few more, but it's hard to see him pushing 20-25 carries a game. He is 30 years old and had injuries last season before battling a hamstring this summer, so the Jets will likely be a little cautious at the start. They will want him to be fresh for the end of the season when they could really use his help.
Will Revis see any time at Safety this season? -- @brooklynmutt
Unless they're hit by an unusual wave of injuries during a game or they line up in some sort of odd defensive alignment, I can't see any reason why the Jets would move Darrelle Revis out of the cornerback spot. I realize he's 31 and last year wasn't up to his usual, Hall of Fame-level standards. But Revis is still one of the better corners in the game, and he's definitely the best one the Jets have.
I know he's the one that stoked this flame by saying earlier this summer that "there will probably be conversations in the future" about a move to safety. The future isn't now, though. Teams still aren't likely to throw in his direction regularly, and it's a huge advantage for the Jets if they can basically cut the field in half. So as long as he's healthy and nothing else crazy happens, Revis Island is still open for business and exactly where it's always been.
Why weren't the Jets able to get an OL on waivers to play RT? -- @Wotchoosay
That sounds so easy, doesn't it? Claim a guy and plug him in. But here's the thing: Of all the offensive linemen waived by teams on Saturday, only two were claimed by other teams - center Eric Kush, who was claimed by the Bears, and tackle Bryan Witzmann, who is now with his fourth team in three years and has yet to play in an NFL games.
In other words, the available offensive linemen weren't good - not a surprise since, you know, they were cut.
Now, there's no doubt the Jets would prefer to have a healthy Breno Giacomini at right tackle, but the Jets like the talent and potential in the two players battling for that job right now -- Brent Qvale, (6-7, 315), who played in all 16 games for them last season, and Ben Ijalana (6-4, 322), a former second-round pick of the Colts.
No, neither is perfect and there are many better tackles out there - but most of them are on a roster at the moment. Good, experienced tackles are so valuable teams aren't inclined to just dump them. If someone was out there, I have no doubt the Jets would've jumped on him. But they also wouldn't have been the only team scrambling for line help.
Will Darron Lee or Jordan Jenkins provide a bigger impact in his rookie season? -- @Andy_Suekoff
I've been very impressed with Jenkins, the third-round pick out of Georgia, this summer. He got off to a faster start than Lee (first-round, Ohio State) and even started the preseason opener and stayed in the rotation of starters up until two weeks ago when he hurt his calf.
That really was the only thing that slowed him down. He had some typical rookie inconsistency, but the coaches love his size (6-3, 259), strength, and he's even showed enough of a push to be a decent pass rusher. Lee is much faster, but at 6-1, 232 he's a little bit undersized and he has gotten pushed around at times trying to move through heavy traffic. His definitely can get knocked back - or down - if he's not careful.
But here's the thing: I think Todd Bowles will let Lee play to his strength, and will use him a lot more as a coverage linebacker against teams that throw the ball - particularly to tight ends. Against teams with huge offensive lines who play power football, he'll play a lot less.
And since this is a passing league, I think Lee will get more of an opportunity. He will undoubtedly have some bad moments, but I think he'll have more good moments than Jenkins by the end of the year.
Who do the Jets have at TE now? -- @Gino_8686
I'm not sure they even know for sure who or what they have at tight end right now, but I can tell you this much: When receiver Quincy Enunwa is healthy he'll be playing that role.
Here's who the Jets do have at tight end: They have veteran Kellen Davis, who has 53 career catches and just six in the last three seasons so he's obviously more of a blocking tight end. Their big receiving tight end was supposed to be Jace Amaro, but he went bust and was waived and is now with the Tennessee Titans. The only other tight end the Jets kept was Brandon Bostick, a mostly-special teamer who is mostly known for botching an onside kick in the 2014 NFC Championship game that cost the Green Bay Packers a berth in the Super Bowl.
Then they went and claimed two tight ends off waivers - Braedon Bowman from Jacksonville and Brian Parker from Kansas City. Bowman is a rookie out of South Alabama and Parker - who went to the University at Albany -- played nine games and caught one pass last season for the Chiefs. Scouting reports on both players coming out of college heralded their blocking ability ahead of their receiving skills.
So that's the "who" of what the Jets have at tight end. But "what" do they have? A lot of blockers and not a lot of great options in the passing game. But maybe that doesn't matter. Last year, Jets tight ends caught just eight passes for 95 yards all season long, and the offense seemed to do pretty well regardless.