My New York Jets, fresh off an 8-8 season, are already a boastful bunch and the calendar hasn’t even turned to August yet.
Cornerback Dee Milliner, who was nicknamed “Toast” last year as a rookie – and then he was benched – said this last week: “The best corner in the league? Me. I ain’t gonna say that somebody else is better than me.”
Calvin Pace, a 33-year old outside linebacker coming off a career-high 10-sack season, said this: “(Compared to) the rest of the defenses in the NFL? S—, man, we’re the best. You ask anybody around the league, we’re not the team you want to see coming in, even in a down year.” Yeah, except Tennessee (38-13 loss), Cincinnati (49-9 loss), Buffalo (37-13 loss). The Jets were blasted in all three of those road games.
Second-year QB Geno Smith, who by some metrics was the worst starting QB in the NFL last year, said: “If I’m No. 32, by this time next year or the year after, I expect to be in the top 5.”
That’s a lot of bluster from three players who weren’t Top 5 contributors on a non-playoff team last season. (The Top 5 contributors: Mo Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Damon Harrison, Chris Ivory, Jeremy Kerley).
The good news is that the Jets are in a division with a terrible team (Dolphins) and a team riddled with question marks (Bills). Another entire AFC division reeks of mediocrity (Cincinnati-Baltimore-Pittsburgh-Cleveland), and then there’s the AFC South, arguably the worst division in football (Titans, Jags, Texans will all miss the playoffs). Also, the devoid-of-talent Raiders remain in the AFC.
I won’t release my always-accurate Jets season prediction (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013) until a few weeks intro the preseason, but if you looked at my 2015 NFL Mock draft, you know I’m slightly bullish on their chances to make the playoffs. None of this optimism is regarding Milliner or Smith, however. Those two are essentially wild cards – if Smith isn’t a bottom five QB and if Milliner plays like he did in December instead of the first 3/4 of the season, then yes, this team could make the playoffs.
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