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For Jets fans, 2017 is J-E-T-S: Just-Enjoy-Tailgating-Season

NFL column by Metro's Kristian Dyer
Jets, Christian Hackenberg
Christian Hackenberg continues to wait for his chance to play after Josh McCown's season-ending injury. (Photo: Getty Images)

Truthfully, 2017 only matters for the New York Jets if it sets them up for 2018 and beyond. It is that glimmer of hope, the belief that a season of knocks and losses will be worth it.

That the suffering green-clad saints who march this weary road will catch a glimpse of paradise in 2018. But certainly not in 2017.

 

Fans needn’t live and die from every report out of offseason workouts for the Jets, whether Christian Hackenberg looks good one day and horrible the next practice or how the top picks are blending into the secondary. It really doesn’t matter. In fact, it might be better to just tune-out.

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As the old adage for fans of this team goes: Just Enjoy Tailgating Season.        

 

In fact, Jets fans might just want to head over to Lot L7 and just tailgate, not even bothering to go into the game. The games of cornhole might be more competitive than their team.

This season, the moves and the draft picks, are truthfully just to set-up for next year. They will, depending on future moves such as potentially trading Sheldon Richardson or cutting certain veterans, be a team with $75 million to upwards of nearly $90 million in salary cap space. That’s a lot of cap space for Mike Maccagnan, the gambling general manager charged with another rebuild.

 

That’s a lot of space, the type where a team can not only plug a hole or three but add key, impact players in their prime. It is the kind of spending the Jets did under former head coach Eric Mangini in 2007 and 2008, the core for a team that would go on to consecutive AFC Championship Game appearances just a couple seasons later.

 

The key now this season for the Jets is to establish certain pieces of their team and add depth. The backend of their secondary looks set with the selection of two safeties in their first two selections of April’s NFL Draft and they have some good pieces along the offensive line and certainly their front three on the defensive front. Any depth and complimentary pieces they can build in 2017 to augment yet another NFL Draft as well as some serious cap flexibility next offseason can have the Jets trending in the right direction next year.

All of which means that the Jets and their fans must have a long-term outlook for this year. It may not be pretty and in fact, they likely will have some serious bumps and bruises, but this team has a bright future.

 

So perhaps just stick to tailgating this year and invest more in brats and BBQ than into emotions for this team. At least for one year.

 

And unlike several seasons when they had oodles, yes oodles, of cap space under then general manager John Idzik, this current general manager isn’t afraid of his own shadow. Maccagnan has shown a willingness to spend and take risks. He traded for a headache in wide receiver Brandon Marshall, a move that parlayed itself into one of the best statistical receiving seasons in franchise history.

 

The same can be said of free agent deals for the likes of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, players who helped lead the Jets to play competitive football up until Week 17 in 2015. The wheels fell off last year but the willingness from Maccagnan to spend and bring in impact players is there. That will be called upon next offseason if and when Maccagnan still is in charge with the team.

 

Now if his three draft classes can start to produce starters, then this year of suffering will be worthwhile for the Jets.

 

This is a franchise, of course, that has just a singular Super Bowl appearance and trophy to fill up a chronicle that is long on history and short on championships. But if Maccagan gets next offseason right, and there is evidence to support that he does know how to build a winner, then a tough 2017 is well worth the struggles.

And the tailgating.