I don’t write much about sports, and for a good reason: It is
very hard for me to be objective. After all, how would you
explain my almost 50 years of unconditional support for both the
New York Jets and the New York Mets, teams known more for serial
disappointments than for impressive accomplishments?
But when Business Insider approached me to write something on the
coming season for my beloved Jets, my resistance slowly eroded ?
and then collapsed. So here’s my amateurish take on the 2016
J-E-T-S, JETS JETS JETS (as the popular chant goes).
In theory, this could be a solid year for the Jets ? that is to
say, one in which a competitive team makes it to the playoffs
while simultaneously progressing on its multiyear rebuilding
effort that would bear fruit for many years to come.
After all, the Jets have a strong defense that could (and should)
forces opponents into crucial, game-changing turnovers. The
starting quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, is capable of moments of
brilliance, coming off a solid 2015 season. Like those of many
others on this evolving team, his talents are yet to be fully
unleashed. And the team seems to have a good punter in Lachlan
The 2016 Jets also see the return of outstanding veteran players
such as Nick Mangold and Muhammad Wilkerson ? really inspiring
footballers who brilliantly lead by example and do so game after
game. Todd Bowles is a strong head coach. Wide receivers Brandon
Marshall and Eric Decker have exciting breakout potential, while
Darrelle Revis remains one of the best cornerbacks in the league.
These are but some of the many valid reasons to be hopeful this
year. And we didn’t get here easily.
The offseason was dominated by questions about when and how
Fitzpatrick would re-sign. The four preseason games were far from
remarkable. The team just waived two high draft picks (Jace Amaro
and, more controversially, Dee Milliner) while holding on, at
least for now, to four (yes, four) quarterbacks, also potentially
setting the stage for a QB controversy should Fitzpatrick slip
It is also a team that is light on tight ends. Six of the first
nine games are on the road and include some pretty tough
opponents. And it is a schedule that doesn’t even give the team
the luxury of a game against the New England Patriots during the
weeks that Tom Brady is suspended.
What worries me most, however, is that for way too many years the
Jets have displayed a maddening tendency to mess up, and
unnecessarily so, by playing down to the level of mediocre
opponents, losing their concentration at crucial junctures in key
games, and blowing big leads (especially in the fourth quarter).
To turn strong theoretical potential into proud accomplishments,
the Jets will need to fill some important gaps, develop more of a
deep threat, and invigorate what seems a rather lackluster
offensive line in the preseason. Most important, they need to
stop making the unforced mistakes for which they have become
known, if not infamous. (Remember the November 2012 “butt fumble”
against no less a disliked team than the dreaded Patriots ? and
this during a historically catastrophic quarter in which the Jets
gave up five touchdowns even though they had the ball for 80% of
the time. Go figure.)
Entering this new NFL season, my head is again telling me not to
hope for too much from the Jets, to realistically manage down my
expectations, and to get emotionally ready for the usual series
That is what I should be doing.
But when it comes to the Jets (and the Mets), the heart dominates
the head. So, here I go again throwing caution to the wind and
hoping for a playoff run that follows ? equally important ? solid
regular-season wins against the archrival Patriots!
Mohamed El-Erian is chief economic adviser at Allianz and a
die-hard New York Jets fan.