There's a new general manager (Joe Douglas), a new head coach (Adam Gase), a new star (Le'Veon Bell), and a new attitude (Gregg Williams and many others). All of that has the Jets thinking this is going to be a great season.
But the "old" quarterback -- 22-year-old Sam Darnold -- is still the biggest reason for hope of all.
The Jets may not be ready to say it publicly, but internally they are thinking playoffs. In fact, they're expecting their first playoff berth since 2010. They may not be ready to win the AFC East, but they feel there's no reason why they can't emerge as an AFC contender.
Are they right? Here's a way-too-early look at how the Jets' 2019 season just might go …
The Jets are loaded with offensive potential and they've got the right man in charge of their previously underachieving defense, so there's absolutely no reason why they can't be good and get off to a fast start. In fact, since they open against the Bills and Browns, there's no reason they can't start 2-0 and get the entire New York City area excited.
Then they travel to New England in Week 3, so they can get knocked back down to Earth.
That may feel familiar. And considering they see the Patriots twice in the first seven weeks while facing the Eagles and Cowboys in between, they really have a chance to duplicate their old pattern: Get off to a fast start, get their fans excited, then pull the rug out from under everyone and get the media screaming "Same old Jets!"
But don't fall into that trap. These are not going to be the same old Jets, even if they go from 2-0 to 3-4 or 2-5 faster than you can say "See? I told you!" Because there are two things these Jets really have working in their favor:
- From Week 8 through the end of the season, the schedule looks as soft as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (before he starts destroying the city in Ghostbusters).
- These Jets are legitimately good. Really.
No, I'm not kidding. Believe the hype about Darnold. He's that good. Most people could see that at the end of last season, even though he was surrounded by a less-than-NFL-caliber team at times. He showed dramatic improvement and an un-rookie-like ability to not repeat mistakes. All that will bode well for the future.
What bodes even better is that he has a true offensive coach running things now. Gase is creative, aggressive, and knows how to get the most out of his players. He's never really had a young quarterback like Darnold to work with. There's a lot he can do with him.
As long as they stay healthy, the arsenal of weapons are pretty good, too. Bell was one of the best running backs in the NFL before he took a year off in a contract dispute. It's hard to believe he'll pick right up where he left off, but even if he's not quite fully back, he's still going to be a Top 10-type of player.
And the receivers … well, maybe there's no true No. 1, but there's a lot of diversity there. Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder all do different things really well.
And keep an eye on Crowder because Gase loves his slot receivers, thinks Crowder is one of the best, and is sure the free agent signee is going to have a really big year.
As for the defense, how can it not get better with Gregg Williams prodding them along. I believe he really will get the best out of Leonard Williams, who may finally have the double-digit sack season that everyone is expecting. The Jets have a terrific linebacking corps and safety group, too. Sure, the cornerback position is a big, black hole and that will cost them in some games. But look at the schedule: There may not be a lot of teams who can exploit that in the second half.
So barring a big injury - especially one to Darnold - you can expect the Jets to get better as the season goes along. Yes, with a tough schedule and as they begin to gain chemistry and learn schemes, they may stumble a bit out of the gate. It would not be a shock to see them at 3-5 or 4-4 halfway through the season.
But expect a big second half from this team, and particularly from Darnold. They have 9-7 written all over them and they definitely have 10-win potential. They will make the playoffs. In fact, they'll enter the playoffs hot and be called, "The team that no one wants to play."
They're not the Patriots. They're not going to win the division. And certainly don't buy your tickets for the Super Bowl or even the AFC championship game. But this season will re-energize everyone about the Jets. They will give their fans a playoff berth. They will even give their fans a playoff victory.
Most importantly, they will legitimately give their fans hope -- something they haven't had much of over the last 10 years.