What a Difference a Year Makes for the Jets

Hey Jets fans, remember what it was like this time last year? Admit it, even for diehards of a team that has known as much heartbreak as Job-on one of his really bad days, things were looking especially bleak as the 2014 season approached.

Rex Ryan was starting a campaign which would almost certainly conclude with his firing. John Idzik was, well, Idzikian in his ineptitude. As evidence of this, one look need no further than the fact that Gang Green's soon-to-be ex-GM decided last year against bringing back Darrelle Revis, perhaps the greatest player in franchise history.

Meanwhile, Idzik's QB of the future, Geno Smith, was at absolute best a very big question mark at the most important position on the field. Additionally, Smith had very little talent around him, making a challenging job near impossible to do well. Finally, the Revis-less defensive backfield lacked anything even resembling competence, and would soon go on to be one of the very worst units (on either side of the ball) in the NFL. Now, as the team prepares for its final preseason contest Thursday against the Eagles, the picture is much, much brighter.

First-year coach Todd Bowles is unproven as a top dog but comes to New York with one of the most impressive resumes any assistant in the league has had in years, and already appears firmly ensconced at the helm.

His immediate boss, Mike Maccagnan, also is new to running a team as a GM, but to say he's an improvement over Idzik is as big an understatement as a normal hairdo being an improvement for Donald Trump. Maccagnan not only brought Revis back to the fold, but did the same with fellow CB Antonio Cromartie, while also adding the best receiver the Jets have had in years in Brandon Marshall.

Even the Jets' luck is much better than a year ago. Bowles and his GM were set to start the 2015 season with Smith back under center, even as he was arguably the worst QB in pro football in 2014. Obviously, no one wanted to see Smith sucker-punched as he was a few weeks ago, when the resulting broken jaw sidelined him for a big stretch. But the fact is that the team appears significantly stronger with grizzled and grizzly veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starting signal caller.

Who knows how the season will shake out? The only certainty is that the hated Patriots will be dangerous, simply because they always are. Miami and Buffalo both seem poised to give Gang Green a fight in the dvision as well. Not only aren't the playoffs a given for the Jets, I'd say they're a longshot. But things have undoubtedly changed in a big way. And if you ask me, just about all of it is change for the better.

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