With the misery that most of us have come to accept as fans of the New York Jets, piecing together snippets of hope each year has become a right of passage. This year it might actually all come together thanks to Sam Darnold.
My favorite New York Jet of all time, without question, is Chad Pennington. Friends of mine still relay stories about me wearing his jersey while none of them knew who he was, despite being a first-round pick. I believe this embodies the Jets perfectly. A certain weight is afforded to us based on the market, however, we will always be looked at as the baby brother and never taken seriously. In my mind, however, Mr. Pennington embodied hope.
On the flip side of this, I have a story from 2013. My buddy and I were watching the second round of the NFL Draft at a local bar, and we had this awful feeling in the pit of our stomachs. Neither of us wanted to draft Geno Smith, however, we just KNEW it was going to happen. Looks were exchanged and a deal was made. If the Jets drafted Geno we would each have to take a shot of house tequila and marinate in our own misery for the rest of the draft. Needless to say, we took Geno, along with the shots (I do not recommend this to anyone, warm tequila is awful), and that taste stuck with us for a few years.
As I mentioned above, I honestly do feel this year is different. Between Leonard Williams, Jamal Adams, and now Mr. Sam Darnold, we have had three recent top draft picks fall into our laps that were not supposed to be available. Pure talent, natural leadership, and a quiet moxie seem to be what they each represent in my eyes, respectively.
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I understand the natural trepidation. By default, as Jets fans, we are simply not allowed to have nice things.
The issue of the USC quarterback curse, although probably overblown, seems to carry some weight. Please, I beg you, do not buy into this. Every player is different, just as every regime in the NFL is different. Let’s not forget, Mark Sanchez did lead us to back to back AFC Championships before the entire ship fell apart. Yes, the captain goes down with said ship, however, he does need help to keep that from happening.
The bigger issue, in my mind, is timing. Will the two headed monster of Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles be allowed to see this through, or will another regime be brought in to clean up a mess? I try not to put too much stock in the two year extension for both, however, it does mean something. I truly believe that if we show any semblance of progress this year they will be afforded that opportunity. Does this mean I think the two of them are right for the job? Not exactly, however, I do feel they need a chance to figure it out. Avoiding a dumpster fire this year is the only way to assure themselves of that opportunity.
In conclusion, we do have hope if we choose to see it. We have an owner, GM, and head coach trying to piece together a locker room filled with leadership and men of character. Josh McCown, to me, is the perfect man to mentor our new pup. Past expectations may bring us to reach for the cynical lens, but I beg you not to. This current mix of youth and experience feels right to me. The New York Jets, 2018 version, feel right.