New York Jets – Hard Not To Improve On 2012 Season

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The 2012 New York Jets were a 6-10 team. There have been plenty of Jets seasons that registered worse records but last year was one of the least enjoyable, if not the least enjoyable season in recent memory.

Let’s shorten the sample size from 1997 on, a logical turning point in the franchise’s history. After a hellacious 5 year stretch when the team went 22-58, Bill Parcells took over and since then the team has been one of the most successful franchises in the NFL…really, they have. In the following 16 seasons, they have been .500 or better in 12 of them, made the playoffs 7 times and won 7 playoff games. Not bad for the circus, eh?

The four losing seasons took place in 2003 (6-10), 2005 (4-12), 2007 (4-12) and last year. 2003 was marked by a 0-4 start because a Chad Pennington injury, followed by a respectable finish that left everybody appropriately encouraged for 2004, when the Jets made the playoffs. 2005 was another year cursed by an early Pennington injury and quickly went down the tubes, leading to a necessary rebuild. It became very apparent early in that season how bad the Jets were desperately in need of a rebuild and the season led to the ouster of both Terry Bradway as GM and Herm Edwards as Head Coach. 2007, guess what? Pennington injury! They were also an overrated team coming into the year because of the surprising success in 2006 against a soft schedule. Yet, I’d contend last year was worse than any of those seasons and any season since the organization turned a corner in 1997.

Pre-season was dominated by idiotic training camp coverage of a backup quarterback and an offense who couldn’t score a point. It was clear the Jets were an average team heading into the season but most remained hopeful they could take advantage of a relatively soft schedule and sneak into the playoff mix. However, in retrospect the season peaked in week 1 with an out of nowhere, enjoyable 48-28 win over the Buffalo Bills. After that…what Jets games or moments did you really enjoy? Honestly, their 2nd best performance of the year was likely against the New England Patriots when they lost 29-26 in OT, in a game they would have won if Stephen Hill could catch the football.

Think about the rest of the games. They looked awful, particularly at quarterback, in their 2nd win of the year against Miami and were lucky to escape with a win. The way they won that game inspired more doubt about their team than optimism. Their romp over the Colts was an outlier thanks to a dominant running performance and a poor outing from Andrew Luck. I’m not somebody to sneeze at any NFL wins but their second half season victories against St. Louis, Arizona and Jacksonville were against mediocre opponents and were not won in a convincing or enjoyable fashion. The Jets were a disorganized mess on offense who were stuck playing a rotating supply of castoffs and backup caliber players. They were thoroughly humiliated on national television by New England and then to a lesser extent by Tennessee, both glaring examples of offensive incompetency, particularly when it came to protecting the football.

Aesthetically speaking, there was no worse offense to watch in the NFL last season than the Jets. Mark Sanchez’s turnovers. Shonn Greene’s plodding. Poor route running and dropped passes from wide receivers and tight ends. Outside of Jeremy Kerley, all of the footage from the Jets 2012 offense should be locked away in a hatch on an island (hey, LOST reference). They were a good defensive team but couldn’t consistently sack the quarterback or force turnovers…so good but not necessarily exciting to watch. Special teams were a train wreck of blocked kicks, allowed returns for touchdowns and muffed punts.

The on-field ineptitude was compounded by endless speculation about a quarterback controversy between three mediocre players and anonymously sourced stories about the locker room. It was a bad, boring football team that was covered by the mainstream media in a painstakingly annoying away. Not fun times to say the least.

With that being said, how can things not improve this season? The Jets are rolling with young, talented players across the board who are being given a chance to prove themselves. Chris Ivory at running back. Demario Davis at linebacker. Josh Bush and Antonio Allen at safety. Dee Milliner at corner. Sheldon Richardson on the defensive line. Potentially, Geno Smith at quarterback and Brian Winters at guard. Even veterans like Willie Colon and Antwan Barnes are on prove-it contracts or being given a bigger opportunities than previously in their career. There are going to be mistakes but at a minimum, the Jets will be a better organized, faster and more exciting team than they were in 2012.

Anything is better than Thanksgiving night last year and a 7-6 rock fight against the Cardinals.

  • KAsh

    They cannot be much worse but only relatively because last year began with lots of misplaced expectations, while this year they are not as great yet. The problem was not that Thomas, Pace, and Scott started last year, but that we had no.one waiting in the wings. We are relying on Davis, Ellis, and maybe Sapp to step up when they could not last year, nevermind that this was a net loss of starters on the defense, so we are bringing in Barnes and hoping he can put together another full season. Secondly, leadership does not relate to ability, which is one of the reasons young generals are not automatically thought of as better generals. Just because Wilkerson and Coples showed a lot of success last year does not mean that they are ready to lead the defense this year. I do not see anything in Wilkerson that would make him a bad leader, but is he ready and able (he seems willing). This is not determined by anything he does prior to being on the field, so we will just have to wait and hope. All we know is that for the first time, Wilkerson will be without a safety rope; there is almost no one behind him that can be relied on to back him up so the buck stops with him. If he pulls it off, you can forget about JJ Watt, no matter what the statistics say.

    This offseason is not looking too hot and the team looks like it is rebuilding because we have failed in the draft the last few years. There was little talent to cushion the release of so many (admittedly, bad and overpaid) players. Certain elements of this team should shine and we should surprise some teams, but this team has replaced one set of weaknesses with another, namely low athleticism with inexperience. There is no such thing as a lost season, but winning will be hard. You should not be surprised if the defense looks solid, even great, but occasionally blows it on a big play. The offense is actually in better territory because it has long time pros to point the way and rescue a unit that is coming up short, especially if Holmes comes back healthy soon and Sanchez actually gets it together. I am not writing off this team, but to expect the defense tobe flawless is to think of football as the Matrix, where Ryan can just download all his football knowledge directly into his players’ brains. To fully evaluate the team, you have to look not simply at the sum of all the parts, but how those parts fit in with each other.

    The Jets might not have a losing season, but it does not mean that there are no serious reasons to worry. It will take at least one more successful draft for the Jets to return to the point where they do not have to worry about losing players and just focus on being dominant.

  • mike

    it’s impossible to predict what this team will do because we don’t yet know how the new offense will take. the passing game won’t project as a dominant one until there’s a lot of roster turnover, but if marty & co. are able to get them just to stop turning the ball over, then i see no reason for the jets not to be competitive this year. of course, that’s a huge if.

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  • John

    I contend that they were better than they showed as everyone was healthy for game one. And once Mark suffered his concussion, other injuries followed suit and the season could never be recovered. I think whay you saw in game one was what they could’ve achieved had they stayed healthy. BUt no one else sees what I see – maybe I’m delusional.
    That said, I think this team should not be rolled into the shell of a team that had no weapons to work with and we all must be cognizant of the scrapheap of defensive players that have been replaced.
    You can’t reasonably make a season prediction without taking all factors in account. Many fans and media don;t look closely enough into the team dynamics and as a result are always stunned and amazed when another worst to first scenario comes to fruition. While I’m not actually making that jump here, I would advise many of you to look at the landscape and take note that the AFC East champ doesn’t have much going for them.

  • Bruce Harper

    Oh yes they can do worse.

    They still have Austin “not quite as terrible as Wayne Hunter” Howard as their starting RT, and second on the depth chart is Vladmir “?worst draft pick ever?” Ducasse. They are apparently starting Bush as a starting safety who showed nothing last year, and did nothing to shore up the WR position and outside LB position (except shifting Q Coples around, which may work.)

    This is a rebuilding period for the Jets-the last year of Sanchez and Ryan, and a competitive year for a VERY high draft pick. They have succeeded in filling some holes this off-season, but there is no way they are going to win more than 6 games this season. BTW-I am a jets fan lifer who lives and dies with their games so it gives me no pleasure to write this (or to see Miami finish ahead of us as they will this year.)

  • Bruce Harper

    Oh yes they can do worse.

    They still have Austin “not quite as terrible as Wayne Hunter” Howard as their starting RT, and Vladmir “??worst draft pick ever?” Ducasse as his replacement. They are-so far-planning on starting Bush as a safety even though he showed nothing last year. They are pathetically thin at WR, and did little to shore up the slow and aging LB position who cannot defend against the pass (although having Coples standing up make make the pass rush improve.)

    They look to have filled a few holes in the off-season, but some of these are holes that had been created by newly departed Jets-Pouha, Greene, etc. By the way, I am a Jets lifer and it gives me no pleasure to watch the Jets finish below the Dolphins as they will this season, but there is no way they will win more than the 6 games they won last season, and this is the farewell season for Ryan and Sanchez as we try to rebuild with a very high draft pick next spring.