The Jets haven’t bought into the doom and gloom surrounding the upcoming season, even if the rest of the football world has already written them off.
After an offseason in which several influential pieces of the team left via free agency or trades, the Jets welcomed a revamped roster to upstate New York on Thursday for the start of training camp. Gone is All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis and stalwarts of the defense such as linebackers Bart Scott and Bryan Thomas and defensive linemen Mike DeVito and Sione Pouha. And an offense that was No. 30 in the league last year in total offense took hits with the loss of tight end Dustin Keller and running back Shonn Greene, both big parts of the offense the past few years.
It has become popular in the media to bash the Jets and even go so far as the declare them a lock for the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft next spring, but the players aren’t buying that line quite yet.
“I feel as though this team has some pieces and could potentially be much better than people see them to be,” wide receiver Braylon Edwards said.
Edwards was signed by the team on Wednesday and did not participate in any offseason programs.
“Just talking to the different coaches, seeing what they have in place and listening to how everybody is now playing their roles, which is a key word for this organization— roles— I think we have a shot to be much better than we were last year [and] the year before,” Edwards said.
There’s plenty of team talk, of course, and guarded optimism. Perhaps no one on the Jets has more on the line this season than incumbent starting quarterback Mark Sanchez, who will face a stiff competition for the starting job from rookie Geno Smith.
In his first two years in the league, the Jets were a game away from the Super Bowl each season with Sanchez as the starter. But they have missed the playoffs entirely the past two seasons.
“We’re going to build the best possible team here, first, and see where that takes us,” Sanchez said. “As far as the playoffs go, we’re going to be working as hard as possible, as efficiently as possible and I know that we have some serious playmakers on this team and we’re going to see them perform here first.”
But with all the doubters claiming that the Jets will be woeful this year, this is a team under head coach Rex Ryan that is capable of surprises.
In the past, the Jets have responded well to adversity. In Ryan’s first season with the team, they won five of their last six games to squeak into the playoffs and went on to make it to the AFC Championship game. The next year, in a controversy laden season, the Jets seemed to respond to each media blowup with a big win to silence their critics, en route to another AFC Championship game run.
“We’ve always done well with our backs against the wall when no one believe in us,” kicker Nick Folk said. “Now it is a matter of getting back to that way, getting back to that belief.”
Jets notes …
» Running Mike Goodson did not report to camp on Thursday. Goodson is dealing with a recent arrest on drug and gun charges, but his agent has told media the delay in appearance was due to dealing with “personal matters.” In a statement by the organization that was disseminated by the team via text message, a quote attributed to Ryan said, “We knew Mike was not going to report and we understand why he’s not here.” The Jets declined further comment on the situation.
» First-round pick Dee Milliner did not report to camp as he is still negotiating his contract. The cornerback was the No. 9 overall pick in this past spring’s NFL Draft.
» After weighing 228 pounds last season, Edwards said that he’s in better shape now and currently tips the scale at 214 pounds.
» Last training camp was dominated by the hype surrounding quarterback Tim Tebow and the ensuing media frenzy that followed. When asked about the difference this year, center Nick Mangold suggested that “Mangold Mania” could potentially sweep through training camp. When asked what “Mangold Mania” was, the Jets center responded “You’re looking at it!”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for updates from training camp in Cortland, N.Y.