A look at what’s happening around the New York Jets:
1. Ultimate underdog: Of the 256 potential Super Bowl LII matchups, the least likely is a Jets-San Francisco 49ers title showdown, according to the Golden Nugget sports book in Las Vegas.
The current odds are — prepare to gulp — 5,000-to-1.
Win that bet with a $10 wager and you’d have enough money to buy two PSLs in the Coaches Club at MetLife Stadium.
Let’s try to put that into perspective, if possible. The odds are getting struck by lightning in your lifetime are 13,000-to-1, per the National Weather Service. Hey, if the Jets dump a couple of more veterans before the season …
For a sports comparison, the Leicester City soccer team was a 5,000-to-1 shot to win the Premier League in 2015-2016 — and it did.
I’ve been covering the Jets since 1989, and I can’t recall any season in which the expectations were this low. Even in 1996, the year they bottomed out at 1-15, they entered the season with high hopes, bolstered by an offseason spending spree that included Neil O’Donnell and the arrival of No. 1 overall pick Keyshawn Johnson.
Look at the bright side: A Jets-Dallas Cowboys matchup is only 400-to-1.
2. Four-gone conclusion: The abrupt release of David Harris means the Jets’ version of the Core Four is no more. We’re talking about Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson (both drafted in 2006) and Harris and Darrelle Revis (both drafted in 2007). Mangold acknowledged the Harris news with a tweet, using this hashtag: #EndOfAnEra
While they weren’t a dynasty, a la the New York Yankees’ Core Four, they represented the best of the Jets — four homegrown players who achieved varying degrees of personal success. Unfortunately, they never tasted a championship. In their seven seasons together, the Jets were 57-55, plus four playoff wins. They got as far as the AFC Championship Game — twice.
In this time of gloom and doom, I’d like to pose this question: Which players will comprise the next Core Four? Leonard Williams and … who? His concert-going buddy, Darron Lee? Jamal Adams? Your guess is as good as mine.
3. Hit Man’s next move: From what I understand, Harris, 33, isn’t considering retirement at this point. He has attracted interest from teams, and there could some action in the coming days. The Cleveland Browns need an inside linebacker after trading Demario Davis to the Jets. The Los Angeles Chargers, coached by former Jets assistant Anthony Lynn, could use some experience in their linebacking corps.
Mangold and Revis also are looking for jobs. It’s all quiet on those fronts, as their asking prices remain high. As of a few weeks ago, Mangold still was looking to be among the highest-paid centers.
4. Maye day! Maye day! Adams has been the talk of the draft class, which is what you’d expect from the sixth overall pick, but the player who really jumped out during the three-week OTA period was second-round safety Marcus Maye. Working mostly at free safety, he impressed the organization with his ability to digest the defense and limit his mental mistakes on the practice field. It’s still early, but the Jets really like the way the Maye-Adams tandem is developing.
5. Gang (Very) Green: Yes, the Jets are a whole lot younger than they were a year ago, but it’s not like they’ve cornered the market on youth. In fact, they’re barely the youngest team in the AFC East. The average opening-day age of their projected starters is 26.2, a bit younger than the Buffalo Bills (26.9). Next is the New England Patriots (27.8), followed by the Miami Dolphins (28.2).
Here’s a breakdown by unit:
Average Age Of Projected AFC East Starters
TEAM OFFENSE DEFENSE TOTAL
Jets 27.3 25.2 26.2
Bills 27.1 26.4 26.9
Patriots 27.8 27.7 27.8
Dolphins 26.5 30.0 28.2
6. Short-sighted decision: The Jets goofed by parting ways with Eric Decker, and here’s why: It’ll be that much harder to develop Christian Hackenberg (or Bryce Petty) without an experienced and reliable wide receiver. Every quarterback needs a go-to guy at receiver, especially a young quarterback, and the Jets don’t have one.
Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson show promise, but they’re still not polished route runners — and route running is vital in a West Coast-based system. With Decker, you know exactly where he’ll be. He’s also a weapon in the red zone; Enunwa and Anderson have 10 red-zone catches between them.
Barring a trade, the Jets will save $7.25 million when they get around to cutting Decker. I don’t want to say it’s a penny-wise, dollar-foolish decision because we’re talking about a lot of money, but you get the point. Look at the Philadelphia Eagles; they devoted their offseason to upgrading the supporting cast around Carson Wentz. Have the Jets done that with their young quarterbacks? Perhaps for the future, but not now.
7. Stop & Shop: As noted the other day, the Jets have talked to the Baltimore Ravens about Decker. Why the delay? The Ravens could be waiting on an answer from free-agent wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. Best-case scenario for the Jets: Maclin signs with the Bills, increasing the Ravens’ need for Decker. In that case, the Jets might be able to extract a late-round pick from the Ravens.
There’s nothing cooking on the Sheldon Richardson trade front. The Jets are prepared to go into the season with him, hoping his value increases before the mid-season trading deadline.
8. Cap ‘n crunch: The Jets have $16.2 million in cap room, according to overthecap.com — and that includes Decker. When he goes, and when they sign Adams, they’ll be at about $19.5 million. They can carry that into next year, when they could have a whopping $80 million in room.
9. Mo’ better than before: Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, coming off a disappointing season, is now 17 months removed from surgery to repair a fractured leg. No more excuses.
“He’s moving well and in good shape,” new defensive-line coach Robert Nunn said. “He’s not in game shape, but he’s in good enough shape to get in shape. … He seems to be moving quicker and I think he feels like he’s moving quicker than he has. I know he struggled off that injury, but he’s very impressive.”
10. Confessions of a sideline reporter: Yep, I was the guy who encountered a Hackenberg pass last week at practice. With a phone in one hand and a notebook in the other, I was able to use my forearm to block a low sideline pass that hit damp grass and skipped like a stone on water. End of story. Can we stop the hysteria, please?