TOJ Six Pack – Worst Jets Seasons From 1996-2016

Joe Malfa ranks the six worst seasons in New York Jets history over the past twenty years…

With a potentially rough season looming, Joe Malfa revisits some of the Jets’ worst seasons of the last two decades.

The Jets are not going to be a good football team in 2017, so I figured I might as well steer into the skid and take a look back at some of the franchise’s worst seasons. This stroll down memory lane may draw a few laughs, tears or fits of rage as we remember the franchise’s low points of the last 20 years.

6) 2016 

I’m sorry. I know this wound is still fresh, but I could not leave 2016 off this list.

Hopes were high heading into the 2016 season after Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles engineered a quick turnaround upon taking over in 2015. The team went 10-6, narrowly missing a playoff berth due to a Week 17 loss in Buffalo, but the core was coming back for the 2016 season.

A sloppy 23-22 loss to the Bengals in Week 1 set the tone for the dysfunction that would ensue. The Jets beat the Bills in a high scoring affair in Week 2, before an ugly blowout on the road against the Chiefs — remembered mostly for the four (editors note: SIX!) interceptions thrown by Ryan Fitzpatrick — started a four-game losing skid.

The Jets bounced back and won the next two against the Ravens and Browns, providing the fans with a sense of false hope before things spiraled out of control.

They had two winnable games — on the road against the Dolphins and home against the Rams — before the bye week, which meant the Jets could have entered the bye week at .500. It was not meant to be.

The team’s lone win the rest of the season came in Week 15 — an overtime win against the 1-11 49ers. Blowout losses against the Colts, Dolphins and Patriots led to the Jets’ worst season, in terms of point differential, since the Kotite years (-134).

5) 2007

The 2006 season was supposed to be a rough one, but Chad Pennington enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career and led the team to the playoffs.

Hopes were high heading into 2007 after the ’06 playoff run, but Pennington followed one of his best seasons with one of his worst.

The Jets decided to give Kellen Clemens a shot in Week 9 with the team already sitting at 1-7, but the second-year QB provided no spark. The Jets whimpered into the bye week at 1-8.

They were a bit better after the bye week, managing to go 3-4 over the final seven weeks, but it was a lost season nonetheless.

One of the most forgettable seasons in recent history was not entirely fruitless. Two notable rookies — Darrelle Revis and David Harris — began their careers as Jets in 2007.

4) 2008 

This season is the only outlier on this list in the sense that it is the only season to have ended with a winning record. Why did this season — better known as the Brett Favre year — make the list? The epic collapse.

A five-game winning streak in the heart of the season put the Jets atop the AFC East at 8-3. The Giants, at this point, were 10-1, so the New York area was buzzing with the potential for a Jets-Giants Super Bowl.

Everything was going in the Jets’ favor. Three of the last five games would be played at home, and the five remaining opponents had a combined record of 23-32.

On November 30, Peyton Hillis ran wild on the Jets in a torrential downpour. The Broncos won 34-17, and Favre was never the same. He let his ego and his games-played streak cloud his judgment as he concealed a major injury.

Favre played the final five games of the season with a torn biceps tendon in his throwing arm — the Jets went 1-4 in this span.

The season ended with Chad Pennington wearing his “Division Champions” hat in Giants Stadium as a member of the Dolphins after defeating the Jets 24-17.

3) 2005 

Scott Mason, leader of our “Play Like a Jet” podcast series, recalls this season vividly:

One of the saddest years in Jets history. Not only because the team had come within inches of the AFC Championship in 2004, but also because literally everything that could go wrong did go wrong.  [Chad] Pennington blew out his shoulder for the second time in Week 3 and was out for the year (this was the injury that more or less ended his run as a top level QB). In the same game, Jay Fiedler, the backup, was hurt and lost for the year as well. The Jets had to call in Vinny Testaverde off the couch, and then Brooks Bollinger played. It was just awful and the team went 4-12.  On top of all of that, this was also the year in which Curtis Martin and Wayne Chrebet both suffered career ending injuries.

2) 2014 

The 2014 season was a tough one on many levels — first an foremost, the eight-game losing streak.

A 19-14 win at home over the Raiders in the season opener on September 7 was the last time the Jets would enjoy a victory until November 9. The team was not very good, and the schedule-makers did not help the cause. The Jets faced a “Murderers’ Row” of quarterbacks from weeks two through seven, which included Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady (in that order).

All hope was lost as the team entered the bye week 2-8, but the poor record had fans excited at the potential of drafting first or second and landing either Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota when April rolled around.

A meaningless Week 15 win on the road against the Titans ensured the Jets would fall out of contention for either of the top two picks. Three years later, the Titans — led by Mariota — are poised to win the AFC South and the Jets are preparing for what will be a four-win season at best.

The cherry on top of this nightmare of a 4-12 season was the firing of Rex Ryan. It was certainly time to move on, but it marked the end of an era that began with two consecutive AFC Championship appearances.

1) 1996

This season took place before I was born (I apologize if that makes any readers feel old), so I once again called upon the memory of Scott Mason:

I believe this was the worst season in team history, simply because they spent so much money and drove up hopes only to see everything come crashing down yet again.  The three weakest spots — QB, WR, and OL — got huge makeovers, with two new tackles (David Williams and Jumbo Elliot), two new WRs (Jeff Graham and Webster Slaughter), and a new QB (Neil O’Donnell, who had just started the Super Bowl for the Steelers).  They also got another lift at WR from #1 overall pick Keyshawn Johnson.  Regardless, the team couldn’t get out of its own way all year. O’Donnell got hurt after six weeks and ended up being a huge disappointment. The Jets went 1-15, earning the #1 overall pick for the 2nd year in a row.  Kotite either resigned or got canned, depending on who you ask. The only good that came of this season was the dawn of the Parcells era.

Before you call me a “Debbie Downer” or a “Negative Nancy” for throwing this article together, just know that I am actually excited for the 2017 season. I have low expectations in terms of winning ballgames, but I am looking forward to watching the young players develop.

Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com 

  • glegly

    How the heck was 2011 not included here? NYJ came off 2 AFC Champ games, things were clicking and then…

  • BleedGreen

    1996 was NOT the worst season it Jet history. It may have been the worst COACHED (as proven by essentially the same core roster going 9-7 in 1997) but despite the 1-15 record, the team was actually competitive in many games. IMO 1995 was worse then 1996 because that team was embarrassingly awful despite winning 2 more games then the 1996 team did. But by FAR, the worst season in Jet history is 1976. That team got blown out week in and week out, won 3 games (2 v a 2 win Buf team and 1 v the 0-14 Bucs), had a totally washed up Joe Namath, (as a TEAM they threw for exactly 7 tds the entire YEAR…Joe had 4), Holtz made them a laughing stock and then quit during the year, and the team was so void of talent it was a joke. Thank goodness for the terrific 1977 draft that out the team back on track. But 1976 and 1995 rank higher IMO then 1996 did.