Any of you remember Browning Nagle? I think it was Bruce Coslet's first season as coach. 1992. We drafted a kid out of Louisville by the name of Browning Nagle and anointed him our savior, our huge QB steal who would lead us to The Land of Better Things. (Why, you ask? because he threw the football 80 yards downfield - with ease, mind you - in the combine.)
And after a year of watching Ken O'Brien from the bench, our savior was pronounced ready. And he had an absolutely rocking preseason (5-0) and everyone was saying how even though preseason don't mean much, he looks like the real deal, and so do the Jets.
Who finished 4-12? Nagle was god-awful, completing less than 50% for 2200 yards and change, 7 scores and 17 picks.
So with that in mind, let me go out on an emotional limb here and say that I'm having a hard time restraining a giddy feeling. Jets be looking good, yo! (Knock on wood and all that).
Why does Gang Green have me all optimistic, against my better judgment? Well, I'm a list kind of guy, so let's lay it out:
1. This is not specific to the upcoming season, but will have positive bearing on it and on following seasons. We wrapped up Curtis "Da Man" Martin and Wayne "Working Class Hero" Chrebet for the rest of their NFL lives. This is how a healthy, title-minded franchise behaves. It's good manners, and it's good sense to wrap up your best, most consistent performers and give them deals they'll be happy with. Way to go, Woody and Terry!
3. We have no choice but to believe Offensive Coordinator Paul Hackett when he says he'll let Vinny throw the damn ball (although not to Keyshawn). As I kept insisting last year: If you play with a gunslinging QB, you have GOT to let him throw. If you want to play strictly short, controlled, nothing but totally wide open shots downfield type of ball, get Trent Dilfer.
4. Bryan Thomas is beginning to look like a steal. Julius Peppers will probably be the better player down the road, but don't be all shocked if Bryan, picked 20 spots beneath him, has better stats as a rookie.
5. Knock on wood again, but Santana Moss is looking like the playmaker we thought. Not many teams have enough speed back deep to contend with him AND Laveranues Coles, who has also looked ready to go.
6. A couple of untouted rookies, especially Jon McGraw, are looking to make the team. Always a good thing.
7. LaMont Jordan (7.5 yards per carry) continues to look like one of the big 2nd round steals. He'll be really good to have throughout the race.
8. John Abraham will probably be ready for Week 1 at Buffalo, although I really won't hold it against Coach Herm if he sits him as a precaution. With Abraham and Thomas at end, we have the basis of something that can rival the Sack Exchange.
And this brings me to the things I'm not happy about:
1. Shaun Ellis is not really doing his part in this Sack Exchange thing. I mean, with him at what we thought his potential would be, this would be a monster front line for the ages. Not many people get the chance to be part of really great units, especially in the age of free agency.
2. This unbeaten preseason thing. Brings me back to the '92 season and shades of Browning Nagle. I'd rather we came in feeling the need to shake off poor showings in exhibition.
Oh well. Let those be our worries, and let it be Greg Williams and the Bills crew who do the worrying come Sunday night. Let's take a look at the matchup:
1. The Bills have a very promising rookie, Mike Williams, at right OT. Let's give him a good New York style welcome to the league and teach him a thing or two about the pros.
2. Heavy duty test for the nearly brand new secondary, right off the bat: I'm predicting big things for the Bills passing game this year, so it'll be up to Beasley and Donnie A. to keep Vinny and his air mail firm in the game.
3. Buffalo was 26th against the run last year. Although they added linebackers London Fletcher and Eddie Robinson, it would be a good idea to test whether those guys have really jelled with the rest. That means 25 carries at the very least for Curtis.
4. We also had a crappy run D. That's one of the main things we gotta show improvement on if we mean to go places. So let's start by holding Travis Henry to 80 yards or less.
That's about the size of it.
This column will go up after the Giants-49ers game, so no point in dispensing fantasy advice for this week. Look for my painfully obvious observations starting with the next column, after the Bills game.