It was fun, wasn’t it?
Waking up at eight o’clock in the morning, packing a barbecue and cooler and setting up your green and white flag. Your routine was back. The 92-degrees heat sweltered the parking lot and burnt your face. Football returned. Who cares if your favorite team was 0-2? It was opening day, that’s a fresh start. In the back of your mind, you may have wanted a tanked season. But, man, how good was it to yell that “J-E-T-S” chant in the parking lot with a group of your friends and family as you waited to face your arch-nemesis, the Miami Dolphins?
You don’t have to answer. Let that sit for a while.
The Jets narrative has gone from “awful 0-16 team” to a potential “young and spunky” group that may surprise people. That’s the NFL. But, don’t drink the Kool-Aid. Have fun and enjoy the season but let’s remember the bigger picture here. This doesn’t mean, don’t show up to MetLife Stadium on Sundays. In fact, you did show up to the game, albeit not to full capacity and invaded by Fin-atics, but you showed up. That’s to be commended. Not every football fan willfully wants to go to a home opener of a season projected to be historically bad. But, you did. The players saw and appreciated it.
“Everyone comes here to win,” said tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins after the Jets drubbed Miami, 20-6. “Fans come here to watch games, to watch a winner. So to be able to give that to them in the home opener felt really good. I know they hear a lot of negativity, with all the naysayers saying ‘we can’t do this’ or ‘we can’t do that.’ But it was great to win the home opener and for Chris Johnson to get his first win as Chairman and CEO.”
Walking through the parking lot brought back kind memories to any Jets fan. The tailgates were raucous, the music blared, the smiles were plentiful. Looking around, you would have never thought the Jets were 0-2 in a rebuilding year. Actually, there were more believers than you may have thought, which is concerning to some but expected by others.
“I’ve been a season ticket holder since 1999 in Section 103,” said Mike Corradino, 46, from Woodbridge, NJ. “We sit with six of our buddies we’ve known for 20 years and have been tailgating since ’99. We decided to keep [the tickets] with the hope that the team will turn it around in the next few years. Plus, we love hanging with our friends. We look forward to those eight weeks of spectacular food and friends.”
It takes a special kind of fan to block out the negative noise surrounding their favorite team. Sure, Corradino cares about the future and would love a potential franchise quarterback like Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen or Josh Allen. But, he’s primarily looking for competitive football on a weekly basis and continued development. It’s one of the many reasons why he still commutes from Woodbridge to East Rutherford on Sundays.
“Being in the endzone, you see the game differently,” said Corradino. “I don’t want to see them quit because that would reflect negatively on [head coach Todd] Bowles. I want to see the defense improve – including Jamal Adams – and I would like to see what we have in [Bryce] Petty and [Christian] Hackenberg eventually.”
Corradino echoes a large segment of the Jets faithful. Nobody is rooting for them to lose. The mindset is, ‘hey, let’s play well and if we can’t come out on top, it’s not the end of the world.’
“I’ve been going for so many years, why would I stop now,” said Pat Buro, 55, Marlboro, NJ. “I enjoy going to the games. I enjoy watching the Jets. It’s not like some people I know who root for them to lose, I root for them to win every Sunday.”
He, too, is looking for the team to improve every week and grow. If the Jets find themselves at 3-2 in two weeks’ time, which is entirely possible, Buro insists he would love it, even if it means risking a potential spot at landing a top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. It’s that mindset that keeps Greg Stengel, 22, believing.
“I don’t expect the playoffs but obviously it would be nice,” said Stengel. I’d rather see the team come out and be competitive and win a few games but most importantly, watch the young guys progress. None of the quarterbacks are guaranteed to come out, or be as good as everyone says they are. If they really like a guy coming out, they can try to trade up in the draft to get him.”
Whether the Jets win or lose on the upcoming Sundays, the fanbase will still be there. Make no mistake, these diehards refuse to root for their team to lose. That makes zero sense, according to 19-year-old Mike Siciliano of Verona, NJ. He will continue to watch his team, win or lose, every Sunday, even from college down in Florida.
“I sit in front of my TV to watch every game, every press conference and anything that has to do with the Jets,” said Siciliano. “Something to think about for Jets fans… if you want them to tank, are you really a fan?”
For all intents and purposes, it’s safe to assume the Jets will not make the postseason, especially after one win. But, who’s to say Jets fans can’t enjoy the ride? Hey, maybe they surprise us all this year.
Joe Barone is a staff writer for JetsInsider.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@28JoeBarone) or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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