Martin: Jets to challenge Patriots for AFC East title this season


(Photo courtesy of the New York Jets)

Talk of Fame Network

Step right up for playoff tickets, Jets’ fans. This is the year your team challenges New England in the AFC East.

That’s not new coach Todd Bowles talking. It’s not old coach Rex Ryan, either. Nope, it’s Hall-of-Fame running back … and, OK, former New York Jet and New England Patriot … Curtis Martin, who last weekend told the Talk of Fame Network he thinks the Jets will squeeze the defending Super Bowl champions for the division title.


“I think they’re going to challenge them this year,” he said. “They have ‘Cro’ (cornerback Antonio Cromartie) and (Darrelle) Revis back. They’re one of the few tandems in the NFL that slows Brady down. So I think that’s going to give them an advantage in comparison to last year. I (also) think Todd Bowles is good for the team.

“I do think they needed to make a coaching change, not because Rex wasn’t a good coach but because New York is just a place, a city, where you have to win. And, for the last few years, he hasn’t won. And so I think the change was necessary, and I like Todd Bowles.”

OK, so the Jets are better, much better, in their secondary. But there’s something that hasn’t changed: The quarterback. Geno Smith is still there, and journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick was brought in to push him. But let’s be honest: Geno Smith and/or Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Tom Brady?


So shouldn’t that be a concern? Or, let’s put it another way: Shouldn’t the Jets’ quarterbacks … period … be a concern?

“Yes,” Martin said. “I don’t think Geno has shown he can get the job done. Now, a lot can happen in an offseason, and I think his commitment to the offseason is going to determine what he‘s able to do this year. (Former coach Bill) Parcells used to tell me, ‘You have two years to get it done, and three is the max.’ I believe this is Geno’s third year (so) he’s going to really have to produce. And if I was an owner of the team he would really have to produce to stay around.”

OK, so let’s see if we have this straight: The Jets are improved defensively and should be much better vs. the pass. But they still have the same problem that plagued them for years – mediocre quarterbacks who can hold them back. So put them together and what do you have?

Martin stands by his prediction: A vastly improved club that is in the playoff picture.

“I think their defense is going to be the strength of the team,” he said. “But if Geno makes some improvement or if Fitzpatrick … they don’t have to have great play out of the quarterback. If they have good play out of the quarterback … consistent play out of the quarterback … the Jets will make some noise this year and they’ll definitely be contending for the division championship and definitely the playoffs.”


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