This is the time of year when football fans should be hopeful, the time of year when all NFL teams are on an equal footing and anything seems possible to the true believers.
But for Jets fans, the start of training camp signals something different. Something far more depressing.
Todd Bowles’ players likely will say that their collective goal is to play in meaningful games and to reach the playoffs in 2017, but everyone at 1 Jets Drive knows that this is northing more than a rebuilding year that’s sure to be filled with plenty of growing pains and possibly cringe-worthy moments.
Their offense will look different given the change in coordinator — Chan Gailey’s surprising retirement this offseason paved the way for the hiring of John Morton, a former assistant to Sean Payton, Jon Gruden and Pete Carroll. But the Jets’ quarterback issues are ongoing.
Josh McCown, who turned 38 this month, is the presumed starter. But he’ll have to officially edge out Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty as camp goes on. As always with McCown, it remains to be seen how long he can stay healthy.
The Jets roster itself is a shell of what it once was. Gone are veterans Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Nick Mangold, David Harris and Darrelle Revis. That leaves Matt Forte, Bilal Powell and young guys like Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson to shoulder more of the offensive and leadership load. Bowles and his defensive staff also will be relying heavily on rookie safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, who replace former starter Marcus Gilchrist (released) and Calvin Pryor (traded).
With a decimated roster and no playoff-caliber quarterback, it’s easy to see why so many believe the Jets are tanking in 2017 — a claim general manager Mike Maccagnan denied.
“That’s not our focus,” he said in June.
But while the wins may not come in bunches this season, Forte is confident about one aspect of this season: Team camaraderie will no longer be an issue.
“We did a lot of stuff in the offseason to work on that,” the running back said, referring to team bonding activities, while at a promotional event for the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Tuesday.
“We know last year that kind of hurt us. It’s a detriment to a team if you have guys that are selfish and only want to get their job done for a certain reason instead of the main reason, being for all of us to get our job done to win.”
The testy relationship between Marshall and defensive end Sheldon Richardson produced plenty of headlines last year and this offseason. Marshall, who requested his release, is now with the Giants.
Notes & quotes: Tom Brady has owned the Jets for years — figuratively-speaking. But according to a brief glitch (or hilarious hack) on Google’s web site Thursday, an image of the Patriots quarterback popped up during a search for “New York Jets owner.” Technically, that job title belongs to Woody Johnson, who bought the franchise in 2000. Johnson also is President Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom . . . ormer Saints RB/returnman Marcus Murphy was claimed off waivers and RB Brandon Wilds was waived.