The chic pick to win Super Bowl XLV, the New York Jets, opens training camp this weekend.
Let me repeat that.
The chic pick to win the Super Bowl.
The New York Jets.
In the past that was a recipe for disappointment...but things seem different here in 2010.
Here are 10 things you need to know about the 2010 New York Jets as we get ready for the NFL season:
New running back LaDainian Tomlinson is entering his 10
th NFL season, and just how much he has left in the tank could be an indication of how effective the Jets will be this season. Tomlinson will not be expected to carry the load (for the first time in his career), but he will be a big factor in the Jets' offense.
The Jets went 9-7 in 2009 - 9 wins would be a disappointment this year. They have a very difficult schedule...but they have a team that should be good enough to win more than 10 games.
The Jets have 8 regular season home games in their new stadium - their first home that they didn't have to share with anyone...well, except for the team they share the stadium with. But it's different now, right? Anyway, a new home, new attitude for a new team - these aren't the same ol' Jets, playing in Giants Stadium. At the very least, they need to get themselves a first round bye and play one more home game in the divisional round (the AFC Championship Game might be asking a bit too much - there are good teams in the AFC - but it would help the Super Bowl hopes).
7 children with 6 women in 5 states. What, too many numbers to devote to one man, newly-acquired Antonio Cromartie? Well, he's already admitted to those numbers being something of a distraction. So I think it's worth mentioning...and it's pretty emblematic of the character issues this team might have. But if you don't like the waste of the three numbers we'll go with...
Season 6 of 'Hard Knocks' on HBO featuring 5 weeks of episodes on these Jets. A good chance that those will be the best five weeks of television programming all August/September. It starts on August 11th. As you can tell from this countdown, there's a lot of made-for-TV stuff going on with this year's edition of the Jets.
Santonio Holmes, one of the Jets' biggest offensive targets (and off-season additions), begins 2010 with a 4-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Those are four big games - conference rival (and potential AFC Champion threat) Baltimore, followed by the three divisional opponents.
The Jets have 3 scheduled Monday Night Football games this season, always a sign that a team is highly regarded. They open the season at home against Baltimore in the first of the season-opening Monday night doubleheader, they host Minnesota on Columbus Day, and are in New England on Monday, December 6th.
This is Year 2 of Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez. It's going to be hard for them to live up to the expectations they set in Year 1, but the good news is everyone is on the same page - anything short of a Super Bowl is going to be viewed as a disappointment.
Finally, I fear that the Jets have just a 1-year window to make this happen. They turned a successful team last year on its head in 2010, replacing respected clubhouse leaders with questionable characters. There are a ton of personalities on this team, for better or for worse, starting with the coach and filtering right on down to Nick Mangold's Twitter account.
This year's a gamble for the Jets - and it's a gamble I think they will win for the year. But anything after this year is a huge question mark, with the potential for all those combustible parts to blow up in their face.