Jets' victory over Cleveland shows Todd Bowles' rebuilding is working

It's been five years since the New York Jets have been a relevant threat in the AFC East. Many fans wondered during the off-season if that trend would change in 2015. Well, after one game, it appears that the Jets may in fact have a legitimate shot at returning to the playoffs. Yes, it was just one game. Yes, it was against the lowly Cleveland Browns who have only made the playoffs once since returning to the NFL in 1999. And yes, the Jets still have a long way to go. But second-year head coach Todd Bowles looks like he’s prepared to go that distance, especially after an off-season defined by the punch heard round the world on the team's probable starting quarterback Geno Smith. The Jets weren't good in 2014, and no one expected them to be. Bowles knew that he would be handed a team in need of major rebuilding, and the biggest question was exactly how long that process would take. This weekend’s 31-10 victory over the Browns was a sign that the process is working. Journeyman backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick played his usual smart and effective game in throwing two touchdown passes, while running back Chris Ivory scored two of his own on the ground. On defense, it seemed like the Jets of old were out there running around against a Johnny Manziel-led Browns offense. New York forced five turnovers on the day, which added a little nostalgia for both teams probably. When the Jets were challenging for AFC titles, they were wreaking havoc on defense. When the Browns struggle – which has happened a lot in recent years – it's usually because of the inability to take care of the football. Bowles needed this kind of start to the new campaign. While no one expects the Jets to contend for a Super Bowl trophy this season, again, progress is what matters. Cleveland was a team that New York should have beaten. It did, and now Bowles and company prepare for a game that could spark even more progress. The Jets will head to Indianapolis for a Monday Night Football showdown with the Colts in Week 2. Indy was a popular Super Bowl pick prior to the season, but after getting routed in Week 1 by the Buffalo Bills, the Colts showed that they aren't invincible. It will be a tough spot for the Jets coming off of a big win and facing an angry Colts team with something to prove. It's the type of game where Bowles' team can prove something of their own by carrying over the momentum from the Cleveland win. If the Jets want to prove to the football world that they are for real, then they won't take a step backwards Monday night. They won't be the favorite. However, a win isn't necessary to show that Bowles has this team on the right trajectory. The Jets just need to keep taking steps forward. Week 1 was the perfect start, but now it’s time to determine if this team is a contender or pretender. Follow @joemess17 on Twitter
Joe Mason
Joe is a co-founder of Rukkus, a web & mobile marketplace for sports tickets. As a former Division I pitcher, he has a deep love for sports and a passion for writing.

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