Knicks, Islanders showJets their turnaround blueprint can work

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After years of not being in the playoffs, the Jets have at least been at the playoffs this spring.

They have been at Knicks games. They have been at Islanders games. Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson has been on the big screen. Head coach Robert Saleh has been waving to the crowd. Backup lineman Dan Feeney has been shot-gunning beers.

It seems like every time you turn on a playoff game with a New York team in it, there has been a Jet shown at some point.

Now, it’s time for the Jets to do more than attend playoff games. It is time they get back to participating in them. The rise of the Knicks and the Islanders (and to a lesser degree, the Nets) should give hope to Jets fans that their franchise can turn it around.

The Knicks and Islanders have gone from being among the worst teams in their sport to playoff teams thanks to strong leadership. The Jets are now hoping they can do the same. The Nets, on the other hand, put together a superteam, which you should not expect from the Jets.

But the blueprint of the Knicks and Islanders is one that the Jets are trying to follow. They can only hope Joe Douglas can be half the executive that Lou Lamoriello has proven to be. Still, Douglas appears to have a clear vision and now he needs to turn that plan into players. For the Knicks, the combination of Leon Rose and Tom Thibodeau has made a franchise that has not been able to get out of its own way in recent years turn into a competent one.

Sound familiar, Jets fans?

Members of the Jets take in one of the Islanders playoff games
Getty Images

The two New York teams have done it without major star power. The Jets similarly are hoping to build through the draft and supplement with free agency. Wilson’s development is obviously paramount and it would help if the Jets could find a player like Julius Randle to revitalize his career here.

For fans who root for the Jets and the Islanders and/or Knicks, imagining the atmosphere that has been on display at Madison Square Garden and the Nassau Coliseum can bring dreams of what MetLife Stadium could look like if the Jets ever got their act together.

What a Jets playoff game at MetLife would look, sound and feel like is pure speculation. MetLife has been open since 2010. The Jets went to the playoffs the first year it was open but didn’t have a home game. The last time the Jets had a home playoff game was Jan. 4, 2003, when they beat the Colts 41-0 at Giants Stadium. You may have discussed the win with your friends on your flip phone or in an internet chat room. Facebook was still a year away from being invented.

The Jets have had seven home playoff games in their history and only two since 1988. Saleh visited MetLife Stadium on Wednesday to go over some game-day details.

“We walked out of the tunnel and they blared it on the speakers, the Jets chant,” Saleh said. “I’m not going to lie to you, I got a little bit of goose bumps. I’m really excited to get it going and get that stadium filled when that thing becomes live again like it’s been in the past.”

When Saleh spoke to reporters on a Zoom call on Thursday, he wore an Islanders jersey, his old college number 86. He has gotten to see the playoff atmosphere this spring up close at the Garden and the Coliseum.

Jets fans are starved for that same experience at their home stadium. Saleh and Douglas probably won’t be able to end that drought this season and maybe not even next. The roster still needs plenty of help.

But maybe, just maybe, they can get the Jets from watching the playoffs to playing in them.

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