NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The expectations could not be lower for the Jets entering 2017. But that doesn’t mean fans can’t still come away from the season feeling better or worse than they anticipated.
Here is a look at three dream scenarios and three nightmare scenarios that could shape the Jets’ season.
Hackenberg Hacks It
To believe the Jets are building toward something, they need a franchise quarterback. They spent a second-round pick on Christian Hackenberg last year hoping he might develop into that guy. He’ll likely get a chance at some point in the regular season to show what he can do. If he impresses, the Jets’ entire future would suddenly look brighter.
Landing First Pick
Yes, it’s counterintuitive to suggest that finishing with the NFL’s worst record would be a dream scenario. But the Jets made it clear with their personnel moves this offseason that their big-picture plans don’t include winning in 2017. There’s no guarantee USC quarterback Sam Darnold, widely projected as the top pick in next year’s draft, will be the next Tom Brady, but he would at least give the franchise renewed hope (unless, of course, Hackenberg proves he is the QB of the future).
It’s highly unlikely, we know, but we are, after all, discussing dream scenarios here. Maybe Hackenberg turns out to be great or Josh McCown plays like he did with the Bears in 2013. Maybe Robby Anderson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins step up and become feared pass catchers. Maybe the defensive line lives up to its potential. Maybe rookies Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye prove to be the NFL’s next great safety tandem. Maybe coach Todd Bowles learns from his past mistakes and helps the Jets scrape together enough wins to earn a wild-card berth.
Run Game Stalls
The Jets released wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. They lost Quincy Enunwa to a season-ending neck injury. They have arguably the NFL’s worst quarterback situation. It’s clear the Jets need to be able to run the ball effectively. The good news: Matt Forte and Bilal Powell have been successful in the past. The bad news: They’re on the older side.
D-Linemen Disappoint Again
Last season, Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson combined for just six sacks. That simply cannot continue. Along with Leonard Williams, who was a Pro Bowler last season, they are supposed to form the Jets’ biggest strength.
Winning 4-8 Games
If the Jets don’t reach the postseason and they’re looking toward overhauling the roster in 2018, they can’t afford to just be mediocre this season; they need to fail spectacularly. In other words, going 2-14 and landing the first pick in the draft could go a lot further in turning around the franchise’s fortunes than going 6-10 and drafting eighth.