It only takes a quick peak into the New York Jets history books for some perspective on the “failure” of this 2011 season. While it is true that the Jets were built up by Rex Ryan and many others, as a Super Bowl contender and tricked into believing that Mark Sanchez was primed to take the next step, like many other Jets teams of the past, preseason hopes simply didn’t match up with the season that followed. This recent disaster is not the first time that such a tragedy has taken place for the Gotham Football Club.
Publications as early as 1966 had the Joe Namath Jets ready to take the AFL title. In Namath’s second year, “Pro Football” magazine had already pictured Weeb Ewbank’s crew gelling on both sides of the ball. Led by the bonus baby face of the league, “Broadway Joe.”
Instead, the Jets went a disappointing 6-6-2, falling three games short of the Eastern Division title. There were no wildcard berths in the American Football League so that meant that the Jets were done for the year. Namath? He threw 19 TD’s and 27 int’s that year with a lousy 49.1 completion percentage. It wasn’t until the magical season of ‘68 that he and the Jets made any postseason appearance.
Richard Todd’s Jets were just a game away in 1982, after losing the famed AFC Championship “Mud Bowl” in Miami 14-0. 1983 saw Todd on the Sports Illustrated cover to reinforce the belief by many analysts that the Jets were Super Bowl favorites.
Then they went 7-9.
Todd threw 18 TD’s that year with 26 picks, in playing his way off of magazine covers and OUT of New York. Todd ended up in New Orleans with the Saints in 1984.
Vinny Testaverde came off the bench to replace Glenn Foley in 1998, leading the Jets, like Todd, to an AFC championship. This time a heartbreaking 23-10 loss to Denver. Testaverde threw 29 TD’s and just 7 picks that year, with an impressive 61 pct completion rating and 101 QB rating. The Jets were surely set to fly in 1999.
This of course, until Testaverde went out for the season in week one, by tripping over a yard line and tearing his achilles tendon. The Jets had no proper backups in place early enough that year, to weather the storm. Season over.
Another sky high expectation crashing on the runway for the Jets.
This leads us to 2011. A year first affected by the NFL lockout and Wild West free agency period. A training camp where for the Jets, saw many new faces replaced reliable old ones on offense.
By the time the season started, the Jets who were initially set to open up the air waves, lacked cohesiveness and chemistry right from the start. The confidence of their young franchise QB soon waned, as losing streaks piled up throughout the course of the year.
The 8-8 ending of this year’s Mark Sanchez Jets has shocked many diehards, but if they consider the team’s history, it shouldn’t.
There are two lessons to be learned from all of this as well.
Namath’s career provides Jets fans with the hope that sometimes expectations arrive prematurely. Todd and Testaverde on the other hand, remind us that opportunities can’t be squandered because there are no guarantees that they will reappear again.
For Sanchez and his teammates, those are the two paths they can travel. Clearly Rex’s Jets currently reside at the fork of these roads as we head into the 2012 season, One that will start with the changes soon to take place in Florham Park.
Even if, none of these alterations, came alongside that silly good for nothing Monday Press conference that many loyalists waited an extra half hour for.
2011 is gone. An opportunity wasted in what has at times been a recurring theme for those who have bleed Green and White. Despite the latest severe disappointment, the saga that is the New York Jets will again continue on. Never dull, never boring, and rarely ending up the way it is drawn up on paper.
That’s why we love them Jets Nation. Don’t forget that.