By Ernie Palladino
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Assuming everything falls right next week, the football public might have a different feeling about the Jets.

Their image will have turned 180 degrees. Their owner, Woody Johnson, will be regarded as someone who is going all out to win, as opposed to his current profit-at-any-cost persona.

Johnson would love that, especially since the current depth chart still places Geno Smith as the starting quarterback. Johnson will have to wait for the draft to fix that dilemma.

But he won’t have to wait to repair one other key weakness. This whole image thing, at least in the short-term, hinges on one man.

Darrelle Revis.

Get him, and people will start thinking differently about the Jets and the people who make their football decisions.

The New York Daily News reported Tuesday that Johnson and new general manager Mike Maccagnan were in the midst of some serious planning should the New England Patriots not pick up the cornerback’s $20 million option for 2015. If they decline, Revis would become an unrestricted free agent, which means the cell phone in his agent’s pocket would commence buzzing precisely at 4:01 p.m. on March 10 and not stop until some GM uttered the right numbers. One can safely assume that the Bills — now coached by Revis’ biggest supporter, Rex Ryan — and the Dolphins, with the Jets’ last good GM, Mike Tannenbaum, in that position in Miami, will be on the horn immediately.

Johnson, though, can ensure Maccagnan will have the correct succession of numerals at his disposal. He must. Otherwise, the painful refrain of “same old, same old” will roll again across the Tri-State Area.

It shouldn’t be too hard, considering the Jets go into the signing period with $51 million of cap space. But these are the Jets. If the last two years under John Idzik taught us anything, it is that management can do some awfully stupid things sometimes.

Stupid in this case would be to pass on returning the best shutdown cornerback in the NFL to a vulnerable secondary for a second time in two years. Remember that Idzik had the chance to get him last year after Tampa Bay released him. He was too expensive, and certainly not worth the gamble coming off knee reconstruction.

So instead Revis went to New England, where he turned his half of the field into a quarterback’s no-man’s land and won himself a Super Bowl ring.

Unless the rest of the league figures out how to run him into an official in the end zone, as Doug Baldwin did a month ago, Revis won’t be letting up many other touchdowns over the next few years. The Jets could certainly use that kind of security.

Some things have to happen before anyone gets clearance to land on Revis Island. First, the Patriots have to decline the option, which is quite likely. But they must also fail to come to a long-term deal with a cornerback who defensive genius Bill Belichick loves and owes.

In the next few days, we’ll find out if he comes free or not. If he does, Johnson knows what he has to do, if only to make selling those overpriced PSLs a little easier.

The first order of business has to involve a change of image, a process that has already started with the hiring of blitz believer Todd Bowles and Maccagnan.

New players — or in Revis’ case, one new old face — come next.

It’s time to crawl out from the onerous shadow of Idzik.

Assuming Revis comes free, get him, if only to offer real hope for 2015.


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