(Note: I'm leaving this as it was written so you can see where my head was at regarding the Jets before the Revis signing, and I'll add my two cents on Revis after the prediction at the end.)
There's a funny thing about the 2010 New York Jets.
On the one hand, everything about them is out in the open - all you have to do is tune in to HBO on Wednesday night's to see what's happening on 'Hard Knocks'.
But on the other hand, their season could hinge on the biggest unknown in the entire NFL -
Will Darrelle Revis report before the season begins?
And if he doesn't, how will that affect the team's on-field performance?
I'm not really one to put a lot of stock into the Jets' preseason performance - I've seen them go 4-0 in the preseason and then go 1-15 in the regular season, and I've seen them go 0-4 in the preseason and have successful regular seasons.
The fact that the offense hasn't been clicking too well is a worry - but would be more of a worry if it's still happening in October. The Jets face some tough defenses to start the season - I'll give them a little bit of a pass against Baltimore and New England if the results improve by the time the Dolphins and Bills games roll around.
Because the Jets defense is such that they can win you games. All the offense has to do is what it did when the Jets made their run last year - not make mistakes, wait for the defense to set you up to score. (The biggest issue with the offense's preseason struggles has been the Jets' inability to protect the ball - if they can stop fumbling and turning the ball over, they'll probably be fine.) The Jets can definitely do that with Revis - they just may still be able to do that without Revis.
As a matter of fact, the closer to the season the Jets get, the less the absence of Revis glares as much as two other absences from last year. Nick Folk has done OK, but I need to see him do it with everything on the line to be a true believer. Though Jay Feely had some late-regular season struggles last year, he redeemed himself in a big way in the post-season, pulling off near-heroic duties as a(n effective) last-minute punting replacement in the first round of the playoffs in addition to being a reliable kicker.
The other gaping hole, literally and figuratively, is the absence of Alan Faneca on the offensive line. Neither Vladimir Ducasse nor Matt Slauson has taken charge as his replacement, and at times both have looked terribly ineffective. One of them will be trying to protect Mark Sanchez when the games count, and it remains to be seen how that affects the passing and running game this season. (If Darrelle Revis could play the O-line, I'd say he was worth Asomugha-type money.)
I'm nervous about this Jets season - the last time they went into a season as a Super Bowl favorite their quarterback went down with an Achilles injury in Week 1 and they were a .500 team (1999, Vinny Testaverde). But I'm also confident, because Rex Ryan has his team believing they can be that good.
I'd be a lot more confident if Darrelle Revis is in the fold before next Monday rolls around.
2010 Prediction: 13-3, 1st Place in AFC East
Revis Update: And welcome to the fold Darrelle Revis. An uplifting ending to the final episode of 'Hard Knocks', to be sure - Rex Ryan and Woody Johnson fly down to Florida to meet with Revis face-to-face and break the ice. It really seems to me, money-wise and timing-wise, that the Jets win these negotiations - 1) Revis is in the lineup for Week 1 (with a full week of practice to boot), and 2) The money seems closer to what the Jets wanted than what Revis wanted...though I could be wrong about that.
This makes me feel a little bit better about the Jets than the way I was feeling after they cut Tony Richardson Sunday night. I now feel, at least, like they're playing with a complete set on defense - it felt like something was missing without Revis. Like I said above, there are still some notable holes - the offensive line primarily, because that was such a strength last year - but having Revis there brings a bit of team cohesion and readiness for the season.
Bring on the Ravens.