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.