"We have a big name in Aaron Rodgers," Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley said Wednesday, via the team's official website. "And from his first day, you can kind of feel the screws and bolts tightened up with the name and weight he carries. Everyone is excited top to bottom. We all have the same mindset and excitement. We did a good job in the offseason getting ready. Now's the time to go to work and put it together."
Despite the worst QB situation in the NFL last season, the Jets got off to a 6-3 start and were in playoff position before cratering, winning one of their final eight games, including dropping their last six, to finish 7-10. It marked the third consecutive season and sixth in the past seven years Gang Green finished last in the AFC East.
However, there are pieces in place for a quick turnaround, including a rock-solid defense that finished among the top five in the league last season.
"We've got Aaron Rodgers and we've got our main guys back, so for me, it's probably the most excited I've been," corner D.J. Reed said. "He's a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and playing against him [in OTAs] you've got to be on your P's and Q's. He throws on a dot, especially those deep balls. That workout on the sand dunes ... it was intense.
"He's already helped us a lot. We've talked about what teams look at when they're preparing for us, what they think they can exploit. Talking with him from that aspect is cool. We saw a lot of deep balls in OTAs."
"That's the goal to be the No. 1 defense in the NFL," Williams said. "We've got the guys in our room, guys who had phenomenal talent last year and are getting better every single day now, who can be better than they were last year. We've got guys who haven't even scratched the surface last year who can be better."
To a man, Jets players dismissed that the extra attention with the Rodgers addition and Hard Knocks chronicling training camp will be a distraction.
"When people hear New York Jets, they're going to think losses, or now when they hear the New York Jets, they're going to think automatic Super Bowl," Mosley said. "We can't think that way, we have to stay focused, we have to stay grounded and take this camp one day at a time. Each day it's going to be a new challenge for us and each day that person has to accept that challenge and be able to take it on."
Given how the club played early last year and the upgrade at the most important position in sports -- going from a turnstile to a four-time MVP -- the optimism in New York is understandable. Living up to the hype is a different task. We've seen the Jets crash and burn trying to meet those expectations in the past.