FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — By the time the Jets and Patriots meet for the first time in 2016, Tom Brady’s four-game Deflategate suspension will be eight weeks in the past and the AFC East playoff picture will be clearer than it was on the first day of training camp.
But connect the dots.
Even with Jimmy Garoppolo starting in Brady’s place, the Patriots will be without their two-time MVP for 25 percent of the schedule.
A loss or two that Brady could have helped the Patriots avoid in the first four weeks could go a long way toward opening doors for other teams in the division, which the Patriots have won in 12 of the last 13 seasons, including the last seven.
The Jets did not seem to care Wednesday after checking in for their first day of training camp.
“If he’s suspended for four games and we go 0-4, does it matter if he’s suspended for four?” Erin Henderson asked. “So we’ve got to take care of our end and make sure we do our job and make sure we do our part, and what’s happening in New England will happen.”
“It has nothing to do with us,” veteran linebacker David Harris said. “We can’t go out there and worry about what other teams are doing. As long as we take care of business here, we should be fine.”
Regardless of the Patriots’ situation — and the fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick is still a free agent and first-round pick Darron Lee has not signed a contract — the Jets believe they have the personnel to make the playoffs in Todd Bowles’ second season as coach. They missed last year’s postseason, thanks to losing a tiebreaker with sixth-seeded Pittsburgh, but they won 10 games.
“That’s always the expectation,” said running back Matt Forte, who was acquired this offseason. “We have a good mix of young guys as well as veteran guys on the team, so when you have a good mix like that, those young guys don’t play as young guys. They play as veterans because they learn from those guys. We look forward and expect to be in the playoffs.”
Nick Mangold said last year’s results have no impact on 2016, but he thought the Jets worked hard in spring practices with the goal of returning to the playoffs.
“We have to carry that into camp,” Mangold said. “No one’s going to care come Week One or Week Two, ‘Hey, you won 10 games last year, so we should be worried about you.’ You should worry about us because of the work we put in in spring and August.”