Calibrating Expectations

Florham Park, NJ- Expectations and hope are two similar, but completely different concepts and yet when it comes to the Jets people struggle to recognize the differences.

Before the season the expectations were low at best, ranging from glorified expansion team to worst team in the league destined for the number one pick to three or four wins, five max, to a few rouge outliers predicting around 7-9, 8-8 otherwise known as an average football team.

After victories over the Falcons (on the road), Patriots and Saints somehow people decided to ignore the games that were lost in-between those wins and began to act like the expectations for the 2013 Jets had changed when in fact they should have stayed exactly they same. Those wins should’ve given fans hope, certainly watching this young team beat two of the elite teams in the league is worthy of being hopeful, but if those wins actually changed your expectations that’s on you.

Rex Ryan was considered a 'dead coach walking' coming into the season, but after exceeding expectations early in the season the tide has turned painting the Jets as disappointing. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

Before the season certain members of the media were mocked for suggesting the Jets could win more than five games, then they start with a 5-4 record and all of a sudden it’s a disastrous outrage of epic proportions that just can’t be tolerated anymore after two losses?

If you didn’t believe the Jets had a shot at getting five wins this season then you can’t be outraged that they now sit at 5-6. You can be disappointed, a little upset that they teased you again. They gave you some hope and they took it right back, being disappointed is natural (especially with the way they lost), but outrage simply isn’t logical.

Comedian Louis C.K. has a hilarious bit that illustrates this point perfectly.

“I’m not that old, I’m 41, but I’m still amazed at the sh** in my life. I’m amazed at the sh** in the world. I was on a plane once, like about a month ago, and they had high-speed wireless internet on the plane. And they had never done that before, they explained to us that we were, like, one of the first aircraft. And I opened up my laptop, and I’m online! I’m looking at Youtube and shit while we’re flying!… And then it broke down. And the woman says, ‘I’m sorry, but we have to fix the Internet so it’s down for the rest of the flight.’ The guy next to me goes, ‘it’s bleeping bull-bleep.’ I’m like, ‘dude, how does the world owe you something you didn’t even know existed 30 seconds ago?’”

Which pretty much sums up the outrage over the Jets two game losing streak. Very few people thought the Jets could win five games all season, so how does the world all of a sudden owe you a Jets victory every week just because they were better than you expected?

Before the season there were plenty of fans saying they’d be happy with ‘five wins considering this garbage roster’ (or something of that nature), now all of a sudden heads need to roll and quarterbacks need to be benched because they don’t have more than five wins with five games left in the season and still a reasonable shot at sneaking in the playoffs.

But just because there’s a reasonable chance the Jets could make the playoffs your expectations still shouldn’t change, it gives you reason to be hopeful, but not to expect anything.

The player’s expectations has always been playoffs, it has to be for every team, but reality is the Jets are an average football team. They were an average football team before the season started, when ESPN had ranked them the worst team in the league, and they were still an average team after they beat the Patriots and Saints. They’re an average team with a lot of young talent, especially on the defensive line, and a solid foundation to build on for the future, but they’re also a team with too many holes to be anything more than average this year.

Unless of course Geno Smith starts playing at an exceptionally high level for the rest of the season, but there’s no reason to expect that considering his learning curve coming out of West Virginia and the problems on the offensive line/limited weapons to rely on.

Smith fell to the Jets in the second round because of worries about him being able to learn an NFL offense and he’s learning one of the most complicated systems in the league, there’s growing pains with any young quarterback (hell look at Andrew Luck struggling without Reggie Wayne, Colin Kaepernick struggling without Crabtree or consider the down year Cam Newton had last year after an amazing start to his rookie season and just now bouncing back) and there’s no reason to expect anything different with Smith. At the same time Smith’s struggles over the past few weeks also doesn’t mean he’s a garbage quarterback who will never be good.

The whole ‘extend Rex Ryan’ one week, but ‘fire him’ the next thing needs to stop, so does the calls for Matt Simms. Smith may not ever be a franchise quarterback, but the only way to know is to let him play. Everyone loves the backup, but Simms isn’t suddenly turning this offense into a high-powered scoring machine.

Before the season started any reasonable Jet fan would have been thrilled to just be in striking distance of the playoffs while the team builds a foundation around it’s young, talented core. Recalibrating expectations after each week still results in an average team, a couple wins against elite teams doesn’t fix the holes on this roster.

Be hopeful that the Jets can find a rhythm on offense, hope that they can get into the playoffs, but expect an average team to continue being average and wait until the season ends to evaluate whether the team, coach and quarterback had a succesful season.

Otherwise you’re just spinning wheels and driving reasonable people insane with the back-and-forth of completely conflicting ideas for the future, let the present play out and be happy the Jets aren’t the laughing stock of the league like most of the world expected.

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