The New York Jets are utterly atrocious

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Neil Miller /The New York Extra

Marc Goldstein, Assistant Editor in Chief

The old saying goes, “New York City is the capital of the world,” and sports are no exception to this phrase, with the Big Apple being a hot spot American sports. Historically, teams playing there have been around the longest and are some of the best in sports. Take the Yankees for example, they have won 27 World Series, the most in the MLB. The expectation when playing in such a big market is to win, and win often. 

 

The New York Jets buck this norm greatly. Not only do they lose repeatedly, but they do it with such an unrivaled incompetence that truly puts them into a category of their own. No other team in sports can say that they have the worst coach, worst ownership group, and play in the biggest market, broadcasting their problems to a larger audience. 

Photo via Associated Press

To understand the floundering fish that is the New York Jets, it is important to understand some context for their ineptitude. The team was established in 1959, into the AFL at the time. The Jets were not terrible from the start. In fact, they pulled off one of the most improbable upsets at the time, defeating the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. Even more titles looked like they were in their future. Over the next 51 years, the Jets have won zero titles. They had no trips to the Super Bowl, and no playoff appearances since 2010. The Jets won more Super Bowls in their first ten years as a franchise (one) than they have in the following 51 years (zero). That number alone should signify a certain degree of incompetence. 

 

In the time since they won the Super Bowl, they have gone through quarterback after quarterback and coach after coach. Relentless pressure from the media and fanbase have made it nearly impossible for the Jets to function with their level of awfulness. A team in a smaller market can afford to tank for a few seasons due to the fact that they don’t have the media pressure to have a few down seasons. Teams in places such as Indianapolis can afford to lose a lot of games in one season in order to secure a high draft pick. In the Jets’ case, the massive market that exists in New York makes it impossible for them to have the luxury of throwing a few seasons away in order to win in the future. Rebuilding a team is inevitable no matter the sport or city. The key to it is making smart decisions that allow for growth in the long run. Even when the Jets do that, as they have in recent years, they have little to no expertise in the draft, which makes it hard for the organization to grow a team without any good, young players. 

 

In the recent history of the team (around 1985 to present day) the team has fumbled the draft so many times, it is impossible to include them all. One of the biggest blunders was selecting Kyle Brady, a mediocre tight end, in the first round instead of Warren Sapp, a future Hall of Famer. The footage from the television broadcast that night catches hoards of Jets fans chanting “We want Sapp! We want Sapp!”. The feeling of true agony was shown as the Jets selected Brady instead. 

 

Not only do the Jets not draft well, but when they do, they fail to surround the player with enough talent to win. Unlike the MLB or NBA, the NFL requires teams to be good at drafting due to the fact that very rarely do superstar players switch teams as frequently. Therefore, teams must be very accurate in the picks they make during the draft. When a team is not good at drafting, it makes it very unlikely that they will win, merely due to the fact that it becomes harder to attract talent to a team with no hope of getting better in the draft. In the recent past, the Jets have drafted Pro Bowlers like Jamal Adams and Leonard Williams in the first round, but failed to surround them with talent during their best years, resulting in the players to both grow unhappy in New York and demand trades (ironically, Williams was traded to the Giants, the other New York team). 

 

The ordeals with both Adams and Williams segue perfectly into another reason why the Jets are an organizational mess: lack of culture. When one thinks of a successful football team, more often than not, they will think of a quarterback or star player. In reality, a good football team is built from the ground up with solid coaching. Very rarely do bad coaches win many games. The Jets have had a myriad of coaches in the past ten years, only to see them fired after not meeting expectations. Without a long term head coach, it is hard to get players to buy into the system and, in turn, win games, which results in better players wanting to come play for the team, and so on and so forth. Think of the New England Patriots, the Jets’ main rival. They have won six Super Bowls in the past 20 years due to a stable presence as their coach, Bill Belichick. The Jets have yet to find their version of Belichick, in fact, they have been trending farther and farther away from improving the leadership at the helm.

 

In 2010, the last time they made the playoffs, Rex Ryan was their coach. He was a gritty coach who emphasized strong defense and few mistakes in order to win games. That worked, with the Jets making it to the AFC Championship Game, one win away from getting to the Super Bowl. Ultimately, the Jets lost, and the Rex Ryan Era would only continue for another four seasons, ending with his termination in 2014. In came rookie head coach Todd Bowles, another defensive minded coach. With a strong first season that nearly saw the Jets get a playoff berth, the future looked bright in the Meadowlands. The next three seasons saw the Jets win no more than five games in a season. Once again, the Jets were looking for a coach, this time choosing an offensive mind in Adam Gase. Gase underwhelmed in Miami with the Dolphins, but was the offensive coordinator for the Broncos when Peyton Manning had an MVP season. Predictably, he has not done very well in New York. In the past season and a half, the Jets have not only lost a lot of games, but lost three of their best players due to discontent with the franchise, Pro Bowlers Jamal Adams and Le’Veon Bell. They both left the team to go to the Seahawks and Chiefs, respectively. This was compounded by the loss of former #3 overall pick Leonard Williams last season at the trade deadline. 

 

For the Jets, the move to hire Gase was met with loads of skepticism and has not looked any better as time has progressed. He started his first year with the Jets by starting 1-7. They season was deemed over by just about everyone, with fans hoping to improve the pick they would get in the draft. The Jets, however, sabotaged themselves by going on to win 6 of the next eight games to finish the year 7-9. This record is probably one of the worst results possible for the Jets. Not only do they miss the playoffs, but they are stuck picking outside of the top 10, where the big prospects will not be available anymore. Predictably, the Jets did not get the opportunity to draft some of the best players in the draft, although they took Mekhi Becton, an offensive lineman who has shown promise in his rookie year. Additionally, Gase has not been a good coach. Simply put, he is not a good game-planner. As recently as Week 9, the Jets were playing their rival New England Patriots, a team that lost Tom Brady in the offseason and are seeing little success on the season. The Jets had a commanding lead in the fourth quarter, but went on to lose the game because Gase’s lack of preparation kept the Jets from winning the game, one that was well within reach and one that was very winnable.

 

Aside from the incredibly lackluster coaching, Gase has become a bad look for the organization. The media and fans alike have all lauded him as the worst coach in the League, and every additional game he coaches tarnished the reputation of the organization as a whole. The team has become a massive joke in the football landscape, not making the playoffs in nearly a decade, and making terrible move after terrible move. For example, after the 2019 NFL Draft, GM Mike Maccagnan conducted the draft for the team, and the following week, he was relieved of his duties. To put that into context, the team allowed him to draft players with the intention of firing him a week later. The Jets brought in Joe Douglass, a good GM at the time of writing, but he inherited a mess in the organization. Not only does he have to clean up the mess in the coaching conundrum, but he has to fix a roster that is lacking talent and excitement. Along with that, he has to do so under the scrutiny of the New York media, who look to criticize every move made by the team. 

 

Ben Soloman/New York Times

The New York Jets are so bad and mismanaged that top prospect in the draft, quarterback Trevor Lawrence from Clemson, who looks to be the top selection in the draft, is rumored to be considering returning to Clemson instead of going into the 2021 NFL Draft, solely because he wouldn’t want to play for the Jets. Owner Woody Johnson spends more time being the ambassador to England for President Trump than he does managing his football team that he bought. He is a very good microcosm of the organization as a whole: uninterested in winning and infuriating to have to watch. 

 

The Jets hold multiple first round picks in both this year’s and next year’s drafts, and boast a treasure trove of draft assets to help rebuild them. Additionally, they have a massive amount of salary cap space to lure free agents to the Big Apple. The Jets’ biggest needs lie at their skill positions, running backs, tight ends, and wide receivers, their offensive line, and pretty much everywhere on defense. These can be pretty easily fixed with some solid draft picks in the next two years. The Jets need to fire Adam Gase to hire a respected coach, have solid drafts and sign some free agents. Getting back to relevance is plausible for the Jets if they follow these three steps.

 

The Jets are currently the laughingstock of the league, but nonetheless there is hope. The bottom line is that the New York Jets have always been finding new ways to let fans down, and this season is no exception.