Remember when Jets fans were known for being an inherently negative, self-loathing group that expected disaster was around each and every corner? You don't need a particularly long memory, just one that goes back to the moments directly following their Week 15 loss to the Falcons, but it certainly appears as if that description is as dated as a pair of Z. Cavaricci pants.
ESPN recently conducted a poll asking fans to select the winner in each of the 16 games on the Jets schedule this season and the Gang Green faithful returned a 15-1 verdict on the season to come. Rex Ryan was, naturally, concerned to hear that people actually thought his team would lose their road game with the Patriots before magnanimously conceding that record was okay because he didn't want to "be too greedy."
You don't need to remind us that this is a totally meaningless web poll that has as much bearing on the season to come as the results of the British prime minister election. That's not what's at issue here. What's at issue is the sea change in the perception of the Jets brand.
We invite any reader old enough to tell us about the expectation level of the post-Super Bowl III Jets to comment below because it is impossible to remember a Jets team in the last 25 years that's had anything close to this kind of aura around it during the offseason. People had high hopes for the Vinny Testaverde-led bunch that lost to the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game in 1999, but this doesn't feel like hope.
It feels like certainty and that's what makes this whole chapter in the Jets saga such an odd one. Whether it comes to fruition or not, you have to marvel at the job done by Woody Johnson, Mike Tannenbaum and Ryan. When the 2008 season ended in a massive Favre-centric meltdown the franchise seemed dead in the water despite finishing with a winning record. They'd blown a high first-round pick, had no quarterback and were as ripe for ridicule as any other point in the past.
A little more than 12 months later, following a season with the same regular season record, the success of the Jets is being treated as a foregone conclusion. Only the Yankees reside in that kind of orbit in these parts and there's a lot more propping up their outsize expectations.
There's plenty of time to discuss whether or not everyone's setting themselves up for a big fall. For now, it's still the rise that's interesting.