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They lost their final six games a season ago, haven’t been to the playoffs in a dozen years and haven’t managed a winning season since 2015. But the New York Jets are about to become the NFL’s most scrutinized team in 2023.
And maybe ever.
On Wednesday morning when rookies and veterans report to the team’s facility in time for Thursday’s start of training camp, everyone will notice. Why?
Jets Play In Nation’s Largest Media Market
Because reporters in the nation’s largest media market will be there by the multiple dozens. Because “Hard Knocks,” the league’s annual behind-the-scenes training camp series, will have cameras and microphones embedded in the locker room, training room, weight room, meeting rooms, and of course, on the fields.
And because ahead lies a regular-season schedule punctuated with enough national television exposure to rival a Super Bowl team.
So the Jets are about to take their place under the microscope.
It’s either going to show the nation how a stirring season comes to together. Or it’s going to be an inglorious disappointment in full unvarnished view.
Strange, you say?
It is true this is is not Gotham’s only team. It is true quarterback Aaron Rodgers is a known NFL figure so the curiosity might be a bit dated.
But there’s too much about this team and the gamut of possibilities it faces that has made network and league executives decide they’re interesting.
Aaron Rodgers Arrival Signals Jets Revival
It starts with Rodgers. Without him the Jets are just another flawed, plucky club that is unlikely to deliver big results despite playing in a big town.
And Rodgers hasn’t said anything to dispel that notion.
“I grew up watching old VHS tapes of the Super Bowls, so obviously, I know about ‘The Guarantee’ and Broadway Joe,” Rodgers said at his introductory presser in May.
“It’s been a while sine then. I noticed walking in this morning that the Super Bowl II trophy is looking a little lonely.”
Jets to the Super Bowl, Aaron Rodgers said on he tabloid back pages!
Paparazzi Love Rodgers And The Jets
Fine, so maybe Rodgers didn’t fully go there. But his presence has been the story this entire summer. He went to a concert. He went to a hockey game. He went on a date. And the paparazzi went with him.
It’s a thing.
And maybe you don’t like the idea the Jets will be up in your grill all season long. That’s too bad because the television networks are going to make sure they get attention.
The regular season begins on Monday Night Football. When everyone is watching. Against the three-time defending AFC East champion Buffalo Bills.
(Prediction: Jets win that opener, pundits will surely crown them as the favorite in the division, but if they lose there will be a storm of second-guessing and told-you-so takes making rounds).
That’s just after one game.
Jets Play Both Super Bowl Teams
The Jets will play the Super Bowl champion Chiefs on a Sunday night. They’ll play America’s Team, the Cowboys, in Texas. They’ll host the defending NFC champion Eagles at MetLife. All that happens the first six weeks of the season.
And then they’ll be on prime time broadcasts at least three more times before their season-finale at New England. That gives the Jets at least five prime-time games.
That’s the same number as the Eagles.
The Eagles, by the way, went to the Super Bowl last season so they have earned the attention. The Jets were 7-10.
The Jets have lost 14 consecutive games against coach Bill Belichick’s Patriots. Think that will be discussed a bit this season as the New Yorkers chase a postseason berth and Belichick chases Don Shula’s all-time coaching win total?
Yes, ad nauseam.
There will be other questions to fill radio and television air waves, too.
Will cornerback Sauce Gardner make a leap in his second season?
Will receiver Garrett Wilson make a leap in his second season?
Do Jets Make Big RB Addition?
Will running back Breece Hall make a leap in his second season? Will Hall be healthy in his second season? Will the Jets, feeling the pressure to catch the Bills, add a veteran running back?
You know, like, Dalvin Cook?
It would be weird for the Jets to be satisfied with Michael Carter and his 3.5-yard-per-carry average in 2022 to be their backup. So at a time that such well-known names as Leonard Fournette, Ezekiel Elliott, and Kareem Hunt are still free agents, it would not surprise if the Jets kick tires on one of those.
And if they don’t, that’s a big deal, too.
Because everything about the Jets this season is an attention-grabbing big deal.
Like it or not, it begins Wednesday.