New York Jets: Breaking down a divided fan base


Nov 9, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Fans of the New York Jets celebrate during the first half of the New York Jets game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets are coming off a disastrous campaign in 2014 that saw the team post a 4 – 12 season. Things went terribly wrong in Rex Ryan’s final season as head coach. The offense was horrendous, with a lackluster receiving corps, a struggling offensive line and very poor quarterback play. Defensively, it was much the same, with poor play coming from both the cornerback position and the safety position as the Jets’ defensive secondary was porous to say the least. To put it simply, it wasn’t very pretty and Jet fans don’t want to see a repeat of 2014 anytime soon.

Enter Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles. This past offseason, these two men combined to make major personnel changes and bring a new face to the organization. Veteran leadership was added across the board in free agency and a very successful draft brought even more young talent to this team. It would appear, at least on the surface, that this is a much improved football team headed into training camp.

In recent months, while talking to fellow Jet fans, I’ve noticed that there appears to be two distinct ways to view this team in the eyes of fans. Now, the Jets fan base has been known to be divided at times, but I found this split rather interesting. The predictions for this team vary widely this early in the season on most web sites and in most articles, but most would agree there will be a bunch of success for this football team. In the eyes of many though, there seems to be two distinct camps, let’s take a look at how both sides view the 2015 season.

Next: The NFL Playoff/Super Bowl Fans

Jan 31, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; New York Jets former quarterback Joe Namath on the red carpet prior to the NFL Honors award ceremony at Symphony Hall. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Playoff/Super Bowl Fans

The Jets have a perfect record in the Super Bowl. They have only been to one of the big games in their franchise history, but won that game in upset fashion in 1969, led by none other then fan favorite Joe Namath. This season, many fans are seeing this team as having the potential to reach the Super Bowl once again, or at least a deep run into the playoffs.

Fans I’ve talked to this year that come from this faction, cite the additions of Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine for their predictions. They are excited about the defense and the return of a very stout defensive front from last year with the addition of first-round draft pick Leonard Williams. The most frequent phrase coming from this crowd is “The Jets defense will dominate this year, keeping them in games and allowing the offense more opportunities to score.”

The Super Bowl crowd is also high on the Jets’ offense for the first time in many years. Many believe that the third year of young signal caller Geno Smith will be the year he breaks out for the Jets. Still others tout an improved running game, which in their opinions will take some of the pressure off Smith. They cite the addition of former Patriots running back Stevan Ridley and the return of Chris Ivory for their enthusiasm at running back.

Yet others in this crowd site the addition of Brandon Marshall and Devin Smith as reason for their belief that this year’s version of the Jets’ offense will be vastly improved. Between the additions at WR, RB and a projected break out year from Smith, many fans believe the Jets will possess a potent offense this season.

There is a growing number of Jet fans joining this group who are predicting playoffs and a possible Super Bowl run. There is no doubt that these fans are super charged this year, and they are expecting huge success from this team. They are a boisterous bunch and surely will be heard during the season making noise to support this team at Met Life Stadium.

Everything is perfectly aligned according to this group. The moon and stars are perfectly aligned to ensure success this season in their eyes. But what about that other group of Jet fans? Let’s see the other side of this story.

Next: The Doubters

Dec 28, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) looks on from the bench during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Doubters

Among all the enthusiasm surrounding the Jets, there is another group of fans that believe the team is nowhere near a Super Bowl run. These fans readily admit that Maccagnan has made major improvements to this year’s roster, but believe there is much work to be done before this team is competing for a Super Bowl or even a deep run into the playoffs. Most of this crowd have much lower expectations of the Jets this year and are predicting a middle of the road finish and a possible wild card birth.

This crowd’s lower expectations of the success of this team is based on concerns at several positions. They know the overall record will improve over last season but they question by how much. This group isn’t a small one either, this team is far from perfect in their eyes and they have concerns on both sides of the football.

Offensively, it all starts with the uncertainty at quarterback. The job is Smith’s to lose according to Bowles and his staff and many in the fan base have concerns about that. They site Smith’s inconsistencies, the turnovers and decision making skills as the reason they don’t believe Smith can get it going offensively. Ryan Fitzpatrick has his proponents as well, some in this group believe Fitzpatrick is the better option at quarterback. Yet others believe the Jets don’t even have one viable NFL starter on their roster, and are looking to trade to get one.

The offensive line is also a major concern for this group. As a whole they wonder if the Jets did enough in the offseason to improve the team’s offensive line talent. Their concerns, they say, are that this line may not be talented enough to keep our signal callers safe in the pocket or lead the way for the running backs. Most often cited is a perceived weakness at offensive tackle, with others expressing deep concern with the depth along the line when injuries occur.

Still others are not too overly excited about the safety position. The addition of Marcus Gilchrist has been less than exciting to this group of fans. Defensively, they are worried about the Jets being beaten deep as they were last season without a true free safety on the roster. They readily agree the cornerback position is vastly improved over last season, but are quick to point out that without over the top safety help, the Jets will be susceptible to the bomb.

The other day a group of Jet fans on a social media outlet went on at length about some perceived weaknesses at linebacker. They questioned the strength of the second level and questioned how well the group would fair this summer. Many cited the age of our linebackers and expressed concerned of how well they play in space. Last year was terrible for the linebacker corps in coverage they point out and question if the Jets made any true upgrades in that department.

In a nut shell, this group of fans is excited for the season, but are naysayers when you mention a deep playoff run or a Super Bowl team. They believe this is a team on the build, but they believe pieces still need to be added to get to the point that this team can get that far. Many of this group are predicting a 9 – 7 finish or even an 8 – 8 finish, and hoping the Jets can build off of that for the following season.

Next: The Middle Ground

Feb 18, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan speaks to the media during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Middle Ground

I’m of the opinion that this is a very talented roster Maccagnan and Bowles have put together in less than a year. It has its extreme strengths at some positions, while being slightly lacking in others. Both sides of this debate make valid points. If one thing I’ve learned following New York sports over the last 50 years, it’s that no matter what moves a team makes in this city, it will never please the masses.

This season will play out as every other season unfolds in the NFL. The Jets will hold competitions throughout the summer, make their final cuts and field the best team they possibly can going into the regular season. Once the lights come on, it will fall to players to execute game plans and be responsible for their individual assignments. Fans will attend games and root from in front of their television sets. This is sports of course, it’s about competition.

Regardless of which group proves to be right at the end of the season, this year holds promise for a beleaguered fan base. No matter which side you find yourself on, remember, we’re all Jet fans! Discussions can be friendly and fun. Here’s to anxiously awaiting the beginning of training camp, preseason games and regular season football!

Let us know which side of this discussion you relate to best. Are you a Jet optimist? Or maybe, like myself, you have a little pessimist in you? We here at The Jet Press encourage you to let us know what you’re thinking. Leave us a comment, and Let’s Talk Jet Football!!

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