- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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Breakdown: Rex Ryan must have done something to upset the folks in the league's scheduling department. Ryan's beloved defense, which struggled against the pass last season, will face five of the NFL's top six passing offenses from 2013 in rapid succession, Weeks 2 to 6. And that doesn't include the New England Patriots, which finished 10th. It's a Murderer's Row of quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. The challenge wouldn't be as daunting if the Jets had made significant improvements in the secondary, but all they've done is replace Antonio Cromartie with journeyman Dimitri Patterson. It might be a good idea to draft a cornerback or two. A year ago, the Jets allowed 3,947 passing yards, the most since 1986. Assuming they seek help in the draft, they will be trying to rebuild part of the secondary, but it'll be tough to accomplish that on the fly, especially with no breathers over the first half of the season. On the bright side, they get to open against the Oakland Raiders.
Complaint department: For the second straight year, the Jets' road game against the Patriots is on a Thursday night -- a tough turnaround under the best of circumstances. That the Jets face the Denver Broncos the previous Sunday makes it an extraordinarily difficult back-to-back. They go from Manning to Brady, two of the all-time greats, in a span of four days, conjuring up memories of when they beat Manning and Brady in the 2010 playoffs. But at least they had a full week to prepare for Brady and New England that year. Ryan, speaking to reporters Wednesday night, didn't sound thrilled. "It isn’t ideal, but, hey, we’ll be up for it," he said. The Jets got hammered in similar fashion in 2011, when they lost to the Patriots at home and played four days later in Denver, falling to Tim Tebow in the final seconds. We'll know a lot about the Jets by Week 7, that's for sure. Their trip to Foxborough, of course, will be spiced by the showdown with former Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis.
On the bright side: The good news is the Jets play three of their first four games at home, increasing their chances of getting off to a good start. Historically, they're a fast-starting team under Ryan, whose September record is 11-6, far and away his best month. The downside is that three of the last four games are on the road, and that's not a good thing. The Jets were a pitiful 2-6 on the road last season, with many of those blowout losses. This year, they close at the Minnesota Vikings, at the Tennessee Titans and at the Miami Dolphins. This marks the third time in four years they've finished in Miami. The Vikings will be outdoors in 2014, so that could be a frigid day. If the Jets don't play better as a road team, they will have no shot at the playoffs.
Jets Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 7, Oakland, 1 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 14, at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m.
Week 3: Monday, Sept. 22, Chicago, 8:30 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 28, Detroit, 1 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 5, at San Diego, 4:25 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 12, Denver, 1 p.m.
Week 7: Thursday, Oct. 16, at New England, 8:25 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 26, Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 2, at Kansas City, 1 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 9, Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.
Week 11: BYE
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 23, at Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Week 13: Monday, Dec. 1, Miami, 8:30 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 7, at Minnesota, 1 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 14, at Tennessee, 4:05 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 21, New England, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 28, at Miami, 1 p.m.