OK, so the Jets won the offseason.
In a landslide.
There are no parades up the Canyon of Heroes — or even around a Meadowlands parking lot — for winning the offseason.
“Now what?’’ has been one of the offseason mantras of Jets coach Robert Saleh, and it pertinently applies as the Jets are about to find out how well the fruits of their offseason labor (hello, Aaron Rodgers) will work out with the season opener against the Bills six days away.
The Jets have a large green bull’s-eye on their collective backs, mostly because of the ballyhooed acquisition of Rodgers but also including their HBO “Hard Knocks’’ involvement.
This is new territory for a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since the 2010 season — three head coaches ago.
Rodgers’ presence has changed everything. Getting to a first Super Bowl since 1969 is no longer an unrealistic pipe dream. The question now is how well-equipped the Jets are to handle the expectations, scrutiny and target on their backs.
Saleh, as the Jets got back to work Monday after having the weekend off, said staring at lofty expectations is “better than the alternative,’’ adding, “You work hard to put yourself in position to have a realistic shot at something. That said, we haven’t done anything. We still have to go do it.’’
That begins Monday night at MetLife Stadium against the Bills, the defending AFC East champions.
“I joke around about how the expectation in New York is 17-0 every year,’’ Saleh said. “To have expectations and know that you can fulfill those expectations, that’s why we do this, to have a realistic shot at achieving the pinnacle of sport. But again, you still have to bring it back to the moment. We still haven’t done anything.’’
Saleh kept coming back to that, because he understands that offseason moves to upgrade a roster guarantee nothing other than new faces in the locker room.
“The good thing is we’ve got a good balance of veterans who’ve been through the fire,’’ Saleh said.
Jets cornerback D.J. Reed on Monday spoke about the “small window’’ this team has with Rodgers turning 40 in December.
“When you have a great defense and a Hall of Fame quarterback and a well-built roster, you have to take advantage of this, because these teams don’t happen every year, with [salary] cap space, with guys wanting to get paid,’’ Reed said. “So, we really have to maximize our opportunity right now.’’
The Jets’ defense was ranked No. 4 in the NFL last season and has eight of the 11 starters still in place. That defense was very much wasted by the consistently poor quarterback play.
“I think we have the potential to be the best defense in the NFL,’’ Reed said. “Honestly, I think we can be historical — not just the best defense in the league, but I think we can have an historical defense like the ’85 Bears, like the LOB (Seattle’s “Legion of Boom’’) in 2013. I think we can be that dominant if we put all the things together and focus on the now and everyone plays up to our potential.’’
Center Connor McGovern is as bullish on the team as Reed is.
“We all are as excited as the buzz is, because we realize the opportunity we have with the special players we have on this team and we all want to capitalize,’’ McGovern said. “There’s not many guys in this locker room that have been in this position to have a team that’s this talented and this hungry and this eager to go. This one feels extra special.’’
Asked how he believes the players will handle the expectations, McGovern said, “We’ve got the leadership in place to take that in stride. If people aren’t hating on you, you’re not doing the right things. I think this locker room is equipped very well to handle this, the scrutiny.’’
Linebacker C.J. Mosley sounded like he embraces the pressure of expectations.
“We have high expectations of ourselves, but we’ve got to put it to the test and we’ve got a long way to go,’’ Mosley said. “When you talk about the target on your back, the only way we can control that is with the leadership in the locker room and coach Saleh delivering the message every week to ignore the noise.
“All the talk that’s been talked about us has been earned, but we’ve got to go out there and make people be quiet. It’s up to us to make people miss that target by doing our job.’’
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