FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The Jets haven't been to the playoffs since the first two years of the Rex Ryan era, way back in 2009-10. That's a seven-year drought that includes all of the Mike Maccagnan/Todd Bowles era.
It's hard to believe anyone's patience can endure much more.
Still, this isn't the year the Jets have been targeting. Their arrival date, with young Sam Darnold at quarterback, figures to be 2019. That doesn't mean they've ruled out the playoffs this season. In fact, they haven't.
But can they actually get there? Here's a look at whether their postseason dreams are actually a realistic goal.
The Jets will make the playoffs if ...: Darnold doesn't have many rookie struggles, especially early.
Rookie quarterbacks often struggle, and the Jets' early season schedule doesn't help him out much. But if he can endure that and he develops quickly, maybe there's a window open. The Jets were 5-11 last year but were close in a lot of games, and they probably have a better roster this season. Also, the division likely isn't very strong. The Dolphins lost their best player in receiver Jarvis Landry. The Bills will be transitioning to a young quarterback, too. OK, the Patriots are still the Patriots, but if Darnold is good from the start, it's not a complete fantasy that he could carry the Jets at least into the wild-card race.
The Jets will NOT make the playoffs if ...: They can't generate a pass rush at all.
If they can't generate a pass rush, quarterbacks are going to have plenty of time to find openings in their secondary, which means teams are going to score on the Jets. And that's a problem -- not just because Darnold is a rookie, but because he doesn't have any real weapons that scare anyone. He has no No. 1 receiver and very average running backs. If Darnold has to keep pace with opponents in shootouts, there's no way this season will turn out well.
So will they make the playoffs? No.
That's just too much to ask for a team in the early stages of a rebuilding project with a rookie quarterback, no big-time weapons, a shaky offensive line and no pass rush. They have nice pieces in place, but the whole sum isn't there yet. Given the amount of cap room they have next offseason, they're probably only a year away, but this has the potential to be a long year. The best hope is that Darnold teases everyone with his ability and the Jets show signs of progress. But wins will still be hard to find.
Prediction time: 5-11