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The only way for fans to view the 2017 season

By Paul Newbold
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 01: A New York Jets fan watches the action during the second quarter of the Jets game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on January 1, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Ed Mulholland/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 01: A New York Jets fan watches the action during the second quarter of the Jets game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on January 1, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Ed Mulholland/Getty Images) /

The regular season will be here in no time as fans of the New York Jets should consider 2017 as an extended training camp.

Many fans are approaching the upcoming season of the New York Jets with a gloom and doom attitude. They’ve seen all the negativity surrounding the team and expect the worst. Many in fact have written off the season before it begins. There is one way Jets fans can view the 2017 season however that is a little less dismal.

I’ve been trying to stay positive for this season while being realistic about the challenges this team faces. The Jets have a young and rather inexperienced roster going into training camp. A majority of the players currently on the roster have in fact never played together. The current state of the team resembles more of a college roster after having lost a large talent pool than it does an NFL roster. Conditions aren’t ideal, but all is not lost.

My approach to this season is to ignore the wins and losses column and focus on player development. While officially the Jets will open their training camp in late July and close camp in late August, I’ll be viewing the season as one long camp. The Jets are rebuilding, and everything that is learned in this year’s games will be invaluable to next year’s efforts.

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What does that mean? For me anyway, it means that this roster and coaching staff will need to put in the work to get better from week to week.

Sure, there will likely be some ugly games for us to endure, but if the players can develop their games as the season progresses, it’ll make those games just a bit more bearable. There is a bunch of potential talent on this roster, so there will be a lot to watch for.

The first thing I’ll be looking for is head coach Todd Bowles and his coaching staff to take control of the locker room. In his first two seasons with the team, Bowles has drawn a bunch of criticism on his coaching style and the way he handled his personnel. He’ll need to show he can lead this team through diversity while keeping it focused on improving. Meanwhile, his staff must focus on teaching system, technique, and communication throughout the season. The impetus has to be on player development. This coaching staff has a lot of work to do, and that work needs to continue throughout the season.

Of course, I’ll be looking for certain players to step up and redeem themselves from their performances of a year ago. Muhammad Wilkerson should be a close watch for every Jets fan in 2017. Will he be fully recovered from his injury from two years ago and return to form? Keep an eye on Matt Forte and Bilal Powell, they need to prove they can stay healthy and carry the team’s run game. Buster Skrine and Marcus Williams will also need to rebound. Can they improve their game and be consistent in coverage?

Young players are everywhere on this roster, and their development from week to week will be vital. The second year players will get their opportunities this year, they must step up and show development while becoming leaders at the same time. This process won’t happen overnight, but it should be a critical watch throughout the season. Players I’ll be watching closely are Juston Burris, Brandon Shell, and Darron Lee for example. There are plenty more of course, but development is what to watch for.

Of course, like every Jets fan this year, I’ll be watching the quarterback situation as it unfolds over the course of the season. Training camp probably will answer some of the questions at the position, but the staff won’t have a clear picture of the situation until the season plays itself out. Bryce Petty, Josh McCown, and Christian Hackenberg will compete to start, and it’s not likely to be pretty, but again, development is what fans need to be looking for. Can these quarterbacks work their way through adversity without losing focus? Can they fix the mistakes they made in Week 1 and play at a higher level in Week 2?

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You can look at this season in a number of ways. You can look at it as another dismal year for the team. You could also view it as another dismal year to be a Jets fan. Both are legitimate opinions. This year I’ll try to stay positive, look for the positives and view the season as one long training camp.