Let’s start with an admission. The New York Jets have not been very good at football for a long time. I get it. We get it. So if you are a member of the ‘same old Jets’ crowd, you may well roll your eyes when I say that these are actually exciting times to be a Jets fan.
Not that you’d know it if my twitter timeline is anything to go by.
Littered amongst the white hot draft chatter (just a week to go now), in the last couple of weeks we’ve had Mark Schlereth bury the team and engage in a back and forth with Jet fans on twitter, including Play Like a Jet’s own Luke Grant.
In the run up to one of the most crucial drafts in Jets history, ESPN’s Rich Cimini recently decided to dedicate almost two thousand words to the selection of Christian Hackenberg back in 2017. Thanks Rich.
This week, Colin Cowherd declared that presumed Jets first round pick Zach Wilson is destined to be an ‘obvious bust’, which going by Cowherd’s record almost guarantees Wilson will go on to have a stellar career in the NFL. Thanks Colin!
Until the Jets start winning, we shouldn’t expect much to change. But ‘same old’ is an easy and lazy way to talk about any team and in a lot of ways, it just doesn’t make sense…
Let’s talk numbers…
Maybe only the Jaguars, the Lions and until recently the Browns get tarnished with the ‘same old’ brush as much as the Jets. I’ve never really understood why that is. Since 2000, the Jets total regular season win loss record is 150-186, a 44.6 win percentage. That’s good enough for joint 22nd in the NFL over that time. That’s not great Bob…but consider this
In the same period, the current Super Bowl champion Buccaneers sit below the Jets at 44.3%. Two years ago, I sat in London and watched Jameis Winston throw pick after pick against the Panthers. I’m guessing not a single person in that crowd had Tampa Bay picked as SuperBowl champions two years later. That’s the magic of the NFL. Same old Buccs huh!
Media darlings the 49ers and the Rams sit just above the Jets at 46%, yet both have made the SuperBowl in recent years and are tipped to contend again. Divisional rivals the Bills have the exact same record over the last twenty years (150-186) and yet now find themselves contending for a championship.
The point is, the past doesn’t have to continue to define you in a league that is specifically designed to make everyone competitive. Tell me why the Jets can’t turn this around?
A franchise is the sum of it’s parts, and the Jets have entirely new parts.
Yes, the Jets have won a grand total of nine games of football in two years. But another reason why ‘same old Jets’ doesn’t make sense is that most of the players, coaches and staff that will make up the Jets 2021 have not been Jets before!
Think about it. Entirely new coaching staff (with the exception of Brant Boyer). By the time the 2022 draft takes place and with another free agency under our belts, the roster will be unrecognisable from the one Joe Douglas inherited from Mike Maccagnan. The Jets have even revamped the entire strength and conditioning department, now led by former Olympic coach Dr Brad DeWeese. So in the last two years, players, coaches front office and support staff will have almost completely changed. These are not the ‘same old’ anything – let alone the Jets.
Team ownership has finally handed over control of all football operations to the general manager and these are very much Joe Douglas’s Jets now. Does anyone really think that when Douglas hands in his draft cards next week (virtually from Florham Park) he’s thinking ‘boy I better get this right, because some guy who used to do this job picked Christian Hackenberg in 2017’? It’s absurd – but same old Jets right?
The NFL is built different
One of the many reasons that the NFL is so popular here in the UK and across Europe is that it’s so competitive, which is the polar opposite of our own football leagues. It’s been an incredible week over here, with the stunning announcement of a breakaway European Super League that quickly died a miserable and deserved death 48 hours later thanks to an unprecedented fan and media backlash.
Whilst the Super League was an atrocious idea built on pure greed, it also exposed another lazy take here in England from fans and media alike – ‘we don’t want the Premier League to be like the NFL’. Well let’s think about that for a moment.
Since it’s inception in 1992, the Premier League has produced a grand total of seven different winners. Arguably, in that entire time there has been one shock win, Leicester City’s 2016 triumph at odds of 500/1. You could quite easily write the first 6 to 8 places down before the start of each season and you would not go far wrong. It’s boring and anti-competitive.
Meanwhile, since 1992, 16 different teams have held the Vince Lombardi trophy aloft and a further eight lost in the Superbowl. That’s three quarters of the league. The NFL is designed this way to it’s credit and it should give every fan hope, including those in Gang Green. If Zach Wilson (and it’s a big if) pans out as some analysts expect, the Jets could have one of the best players in the league on their hands for the next ten years. That could never happen here in Europe to a team more used to losing than winning.
Of course, none of this guarantees that the Jets are going to win. Either this year, the year after or beyond. It’s likely going to take time, but I for one haven’t been as excited about the Jets future for a long time. I love the look of this new coaching staff, Joe Douglas has put us in an enviable draft and salary cap situation and now it’s over to Robert Salah and his players to produce.
Win or lose, it will have everything to do with these Jets and nothing to do with the ‘same old Jets’.