By Ernie Palladino
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If the Jets didn’t have a spring in their step during Thursday’s workouts, well, maybe they just hadn’t heard the news about Tom Brady.

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New England’s quarterback and chief football deflator had just lost the first round of his legal battle against the NFL. The Minnesota federal court throwing out Brady‘s request for a change of venue for his appeal of the league’s four-game ban for breaking rules, and then his cell phone, represented a setback in his goal to start the season on time.

Considering that is the same august body that District Senior Judge David Doty had turned into a legal gift-giving operation for the players, one can only assume Brady will be sitting home with Giselle for the first quarter of 2015.

Unless some piece of legal wrangling changes that decision, Brady’s case goes back to the New York Southern District Court, where the NFL first-shot lawsuit was filed in the first place. Assuming that court sides with the league, it will be hard for Brady to get out of this fix. After all, when the so-called friendly court wants no part of hearing your side of things, it’s just not a good sign.

But this is more about the Jets than legalities. As far as they are concerned, Brady’s absence can help them indirectly. He’ll be back in time for the teams’ first matchup in Week 6. Knowing Brady, he’ll be ready for them.

The key for Todd Bowles and company is to get a running start into that game during the vulnerable period where Bill Belichick will have to make do with second-line quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Of course, if the 2014 second-rounder looks anything like the injury-replacement Brady did 14 years ago after Mo Lewis bulldozed Drew Bledsoe, that would be another story.

But let’s assume for now that the Patriots only have one supernatural quarterback on the roster, and that his name is not Garoppolo. If that’s indeed the case, New England could run into enough early trouble to keep the Jets close.

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Their schedule is hardly a piece of cake. Except for Week 3 against Jacksonville, the Pats have a diet of contenders and division champs. They’ll open against Pittsburgh, last year’s AFC North winners who sport a Ben Roethlisberger who will be motivated to prove himself worthy of the five-year, $99 million extension he just got. Then they’ll travel to Buffalo, where former Jets coach Rex Ryan may at last get Belichick to kiss his, er, ring instead of the other way around.

The bye comes after Jacksonville, and then the Pats travel down to Dallas, last year’s NFC East champ.

The Jets, meanwhile, get the Browns at home, the Colts away, the Eagles at home, and the Dolphins away. It’s not all that easy a schedule, especially since the offense is still in the hands of one Geno Smith. But if Bowles can create some consistency in that unit, the combination of that and the Darrelle Revis-led defense could keep Gang Green step-for-step, or even a notch above, the Pats.

If nothing else, Brady’s absence should reduce the Pats’ scoring ability.

This is all an oversimplification, of course. Geno might still act like Geno as training camp progresses, and that won’t be a good thing. The defense, as mighty as it appears now, will operate without a big up-front piece for four games as Sheldon Richardson serves his whacky weed suspension, and maybe more after he was busted for resisting arrest after allegedly driving 143 mph with a loaded gun and a 12-year-old in the car.

And the Pats are by no means a one-man team. There is a great likelihood that they will overcome Brady’s absence, or at least find a way to minimize it.

But when one remembers that nothing went right for the 4-12 Jets of 2014, Thursday’s court decision in Minnesota should call for a tiny emotional lift in Florham Park.

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It left Brady vulnerable, just like the Pats will be if he loses his appeal. And the Jets should make it their camp business to take advantage of that.