In exactly a one month span, the New Jersey Jets went from AFC East bottom dwellers to contenders. On August 7th the Jets added Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre while the Pats lost their Hall of Fame QB on the 7th of September, greatly altering the AFC East landscape. The Jets had already made a host of moves, especially on defense, prior to the change in QBs for the two rivals, and even with the buzz that Favre had created around the Jets (buzz that made the defending Super Bowl champs an after thought in their own town during the pre-season), not too many were thinking anything better than maybe a Wild Card spot. Now, with Matt Cassel under center for the Pats, the expectations for the Jets could not get much higher........and that may come back to bite them.
Gary Myers of the NY Post wrote an article on September 8th entitled "With Tom Brady done, Eric Mangini, Brett Favre have to win division". Myers' believes that the Jets must "win now", and much of this stems from the one year window in which the Jets, with Favre in (and who knows if he will be around for 2009) and Brady out (who should be back for 2009), have to make some noise in the division and possibly make a deep run in the playoffs........not to mention generate some noise before they and the Giants move into a brand new stadium in 2010.
As we know, the NY media can be the most critical (and ruthless) in the country of its respective area pro sports teams. After struggling in Fenway in just his 16th career start as a 21 year-old, Phil Hughes was ripped by the NY Post. A related Post article targeted fellow "young gun" Ian Kennedy......both articles came less three weeks into the season. If the NY media gives little slack to two kids who had, at the time, started fewer than 30 games.....combined......it is hard to think they will be any less critical of a team that went from a being 10-6 playoff team to a 4-12 joke, a coach that is already on the hot seat, a future Hall of Fame QB, and a defense that drafted one of the highest rated defensive players in this year's draft as well as bring in a Pro-Bowl defensive tackle and throw $42 million at new OLB. Even some non-NY media personalities were stating before the Brandy injury that the Jets are in a must win now situation.
However, while the Jets should certainly finish much better than 4-12 as they did in 2007, this is a team that still has some things to iron out. Favre admits he is still not fully comfortable with the offense, Gholston struggled with his transition to OLB during the pre-season and how all of the new acquisitions will mesh together remains to be seen. And despite defeating the pathetic Dolphins by just 6 points this past Sunday......granted the game was in Miami and the Jets were without a kicker.......there are those in the NY media who think the Jets are good enough right now to knock off New England this Sunday. (Even without Tom Brady the Pats bolster a very strong roster.)
The Jets are a contender in the division, no doubt about that, but they are still a team trying to find its identity with so many additions to the roster and the NY media will not be patient. It will be interesting to see how Jets' players react to articles written about them like those written about Hughes and Kennedy should they struggle in the early going. Even Brett Favre, possibly the most beloved players of our generation (retirement talk aside) is not impervious to the critics. New York is a tough town to play in to begin with.......high expectations make it near impossible.