J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets

Three weeks into the NFL season and the unpredictability we’ve come to expect from the NFL has once again captivated fans. If you predicted the Bills would start the season 3-0 or that the Eagles would stumble to a 1-2 start, I’d like to shake your hand.

Unlike the NBA and MLB, the NFL’s 16 game season means that a slow start or an explosion out of the gates sets the tone for an entire season. While there is no shortage of impressive teams to start the season, the team that has captured my attention is the New York Jets.

Despite the fact that the Jets should be 1-2, if not for the Cowboy’s inadequacy in week one, I think this is a team with championship potential.

With the NFL adjusting to an even more pass-happy environment, a team’s success has to start with the quarterback — and I’ll be the first to claim that Mark Sanchez was the piano strapped to the Jets’ back in his first two seasons. However, three games into this season, Sanchez is exceeding expectations with a quarterback rating upwards of 90 and nearly 300 passing yards per game.

We’ve seen these flashes from Sanchez before, though on a smaller scale. When watching a game he always seems to be on the verge of a breakout. At times he’ll look like a polished high-end NFL quarterback, leading his team down the field with degree-of-difficulty throws, but then he’ll throw some head scratching interception.

This lack of consistency has been the thorn in his side. I’m well aware I sound like every Jets fan when I say this — I am not, Lions 3-0 baby — but Sanchez will likely find that consistency at some point in his career. The question is when.

If the early season stats are any indicator, the Jets are buying into the NFL’s new spread ideology. Sanchez has thrown the ball 111 times while the three Jets’ running backs combined for only 64 carries. The good thing is that Sanchez boasts talented receivers to throw to.

The passing attack features the grossly underrated Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes, a big downfield threat in Plaxico Burress and consistent veteran Derrick Mason in the slot. Dustin Keller gives Sanchez a nice safety valve and Ladanian Tomlinson transformed himself into one of the best third-down backs in the league.

While the running game hasn’t impressed thus far, I doubt a Rex Ryan led team will struggle in that department over an entire season. The offensive line is beat up and underperforming but this group has proved itself as one of the best in the league over the past couple seasons.

Shonn Greene looks to solidify his role as the early-down back after a shaky season last year. If Greene can’t handle the role, former USC prodigy Joe McKnight — who ran for 158 yards during week 17 of last year — waits in the wings.

One aspect of the Jets that no one questions is their defense. Playmakers litter their starting lineup and they’re arguably a top five defense. They also have special teams that make plays; their week 1 victory was largely due to a blocked punt. And yes, special teams matter, just ask the 2010 Chargers.

The Jets’ success this year boils down to whether or not Sanchez can make the transition from game manager to game changer, something I’m not particularly comfortable predicting will happen this season – although I respect the possibility. Right now, the Packers and Patriots have to be considered Super Bowl favorites.

However, if I knew for a fact Sanchez would make the leap I’d personally consider the Jets the team to beat. The pieces are in place with exceptional players scattered on offense, defense and special teams. Just waiting on you, Mark.