Jets players sat in front of their lockers after Sunday’s 13-6 loss to the Dolphins, some wearing looks of disgust others showing signs of frustration. It was a scene that has become all too familiar for the Jets in recent history — even in that very locker room.
These losses are starting to have a déjà vu feel to them because the Jets have lost so much lately. This could have been last year in Miami when they blew a 14-point lead or the year before when a late kickoff return doomed them. It could have been 2011 when Santonio Holmes sat on the bench for the final two minutes of the Jets’ season. And that’s just the Miami portion of Jets losing.
This is about to become a lost decade for this franchise. It started with a trip to the AFC Championship Game in the 2010 season. They have not been back to the playoffs since.
At 3-6, it seems a certainty that the Jets will miss the playoffs for an eighth straight season. That will tie the franchise’s second-longest playoff drought going back to when the franchise began and missed the playoffs from 1960-67 in the AFL. They still have a ways to go to match the longest period of futility, when they failed to reach the postseason from 1970-80.
Any way you measure it, though, this decade has been miserable for the Jets.
They have only had two winning seasons — 2010 and 2015. Only the 1970s (0) and the 1990s (two) compare.
Their record is 60-77 — a winning percentage of .438. Only those 1970s (.368) and the 1990s (.406) were worse.
As much as Jets fans bemoan the fate of their franchise, there have been some good periods for this team and the last decade was one of them. In the 2000s, they had seven winning seasons and five playoff appearances.
But things crumbled after those back-to-back trips to the AFC title game. In-fighting and poor play from Mark Sanchez doomed the 2011 team, a season best remembered for Victor Cruz’s 99-yard touchdown on Christmas Eve. Tim Tebow and the circus arrived in 2012. Geno Smith and John Idzik followed in 2013. Rex Ryan and Idzik could not agree on anything in 2014 and were both shown the door after the season. Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan showed up in 2015 and things were good until Ryan Fitzpatrick’s three-interception day in Buffalo spoiled the season. Then, Fitzpatrick got $12 million and played like $2, sending the team into another rebuild.
That brings us to the present. The drafting of Sam Darnold has given Jets fans hope, even during the rough days like Sunday. After three straight losses, it is clear the 2018 team will likely be just another in a long line of nondescript teams that Jets fans have watched through the years.
While this is nowhere near as bad as the 1970s, older Jets fans will remember glimmers of hope at the end of that decade after the drafts produced some young talent like Marvin Powell, Wesley Walker, Joe Klecko, Michey Shuler, Marty Lyons and Mark Gastineau. At the time, there was also hope Richard Todd would be the man to replace Joe Namath, and he was for a short time.
They ended the playoff drought in 1981 and were in the AFC Championship Game the following season in, of all places, Miami.
Jets fans have a similar hope now for the future with Darnold at quarterback and some young talent showing promise in Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye, Leonard Williams, Darron Lee and Robby Anderson.
So, Jets fans again are left looking to the future while suffering through the present. It is a state they have become are all too familiar with.