With the NFL set to introduce a 17-game schedule next season, ESM ponders how the New York Jets will be affected in the immediate aftermath.
The NFL season got a little longer this week, as league owners approved the addition of a 17th game to the yearly schedule. This new game will a fifth interconference battle based on divisional finish the year before. For example, the New York Jets and their AFC East brethren will battle their NFC counterparts in the 2021 debut, with the Jets taking on their fellow fourth-place finishers from Philadelphia.
What sort of unique challenges does the new schedule present? ESM investigates…
It’s An Extra Game of Experience
Even with some valuable veteran additions in tow, the Jets are still a young team at heart. Only eight players on the current roster have more than five years of NFL experience (not counting ongoing free agents like Bradley McDougald and Neville Hewitt) and all signs point to them sending out a rookie quarterback for their Week 1 contest in September.
Perhaps nothing could’ve stopped the carnage that last season wrought, but the Jets were one of the teams more drastically affected by the lack of a 2020 preseason. There were simply too many new faces that could’ve benefitted from consequence-free opportunities. With Robert Saleh in tow, the Jets are preparing to enter a new era. While there are many newcomers in on one-year deals, there’s hope for longevity through the new contracts bestowed to guys like Corey Davis and Carl Lawson (three years each).
Though the Jets have gotten better through their offseason additions, asking them to compete for a 2021 playoff spot is still a tough ask. Buffalo has apparently inherited the AFC East throne from New England, who spent big this offseason to reclaim. Established wild card contenders pepper the outlook elsewhere. Thus, the 2020 season will be about building continuity and chemistry. If they insert themselves into the playoff conversation, that’s an added bonus. But an extra game gives them a chance to develop the big pair of c’s for their future.
It’s Perfect For a New Coach
Robert Saleh has a good chance to make a first impression with a shortened preseason on its way. But now he, as well as the other six new head coaches in the league, has an extra regular season game to further establish his vision and start to make things right.
In his opening statements, Saleh expressed his desire to establish a new culture in New York but stressed that fans would have to be patient.
“There’s an investment that’s going to be made to one another, coaches to players, players to coaches, organization to everybody, and there’s an investment that’s going to be reciprocated,” Saleh said, per notes from the Jets. “(It’s an) understanding that the all gas, no brake mentality that we’re going to have with how we wake up in the morning, how we rehab, how we prepare for meetings, how we take the practice field, how we’re deliberate in everything we do will lead to the results that you’ll see on Sunday. It will take time, but everything we do is going to be designed to win championships in the future.”
The caveat of patience is still extremely necessary, but an extra game of regular season work is a godsend to Saleh and Co.
The Jets-Giants Rivalry Could Finally Become a Thing
The Jets own countless acres of real estate in the heads of New York Giants fans, and vice versa. Yet, it’s hard to truly classify the battle of Bergen County as a true rivalry as the teams’ quadrennial meeting doesn’t stem enough animosity. One can only get so amped from a preseason tilt as well.
Obviously, the Jets won’t face an NFC East opponent every year under the new format. But the gap between metropolitan meetings could steadily decares if things play out. Heck, if things go the way each side is hoping they will, it could become a battle of local division champions, as the 17th meeting will matchup teams who finished in the same spots. Even if things don’t work out, it can become a battle of rebuilders, and give their long-suffering fans something to battle and brag about.
The Giants-Jets clash is never going to become the Subway Series. But if the 17th game allows them to meet more often than once every four years, it could at least gain a little traction and become a must-see event on the national level.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags