By: Jude Bazerman
EAST RUTHERFORD- The New York Jets currently sit at the bottom of the AFC East with an atrocious 0-13 record, no defensive coordinator, and much internal confusion. Many critics even believe that the team will finish the season winless, becoming just the third team in NFL history to do so. But, how did the Jets get to this point?
Going into the 2020 NFL season, the Jets were seen as a potential playoff team in the eyes of some experts. Coming off a 7-9 season, the team had many reasons to be optimistic. Most notably, the Jets were 7-6 when starting QB Sam Darnold was healthy, showing that the team could be very competitive when at full strength. Additionally, the Jets were beginning to construct a strong team around Darnold. In 2018, the team signed linebackers Avery Williamson and CJ Mosley to big contracts, along with landing star running back Le’veon Bell in that same offseason. They also drafted Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams with the third overall pick. A year later, the Jets picked up Louisville’s Mekhi Becton with the eleventh overall pick, helping sure up the offensive line. With these recent acquisitions, coupled with what seemed to be years worth of developing their own players, the Jets seemed primed for a playoff push in 2020.
However, the playmakers on the Jets were not the only ones who were expected to make a difference in 2020. Second year Jets head coach Adam Gase, along with Gregg Williams, an accomplished defensive coordinator, looked to help bring the team to the next level. With that being said, Gase did have his skeptics. In his time coaching the Miami Dolphins, his team’s were rarely successful, and his offensive gameplans were especially in question. But, the Jets felt that 2020 would be the year that Gase would take a leap forward along with the team as a whole.
To say the least, the Jets’ best wishes have been far from granted this season. Following an ugly week one loss to their rivals, the Buffalo Bills, a new storyline emerged in Bergen County: The Jets were not as good as advertised. Through week thirteen of the NFL season, this headline has held up perfectly. It took the Jets until their seventh game to lose by less than one score, along with only scoring twenty points or more once in their first eight games. More recently, the Jets have struggled to put any points on the board; in week three, they only mustered seven points against the Colts. Two weeks later, the team only put up ten against the Cardinals. Most embarrassingly, in two games against the division rival Dolphins, the Jets only put up three points combined.
Interestingly, the Jets have come close to winning two games: One against the loathed Patriots and another against the playoff caliber Raiders. But, the Jets ended up squandering a late lead in both games, eventually losing by three points in each matchup. Other than those two games, the Jets next closest losses were by eight points to both the Bills and the Chargers.
Needless to say, the New York Jets’ season through twelve games has been one of the worst in league history. The team’s -173 point differential is almost 50 points higher than the next worst team, and at the midway point of the season the Jets were on pace for the worst point differential ever. But, it is impossible to pin the blame on just one group of people.
Though the aforementioned Adam Gase gets the brunt of the criticism, the roster he was given by general manager Joe Douglas has not been spectacular to say the least. Injuries, along with a few COVID related opt outs, have greatly hurt the Jets. Before the season even started, CJ Mosley decided to sit out the season out of fear of contracting COVID. Then, as the season turned for worse, Sam Darnold went down with an injury, and running back Le’veon Bell was released due to poor performance. In their place came former Super Bowl MVP quarterback Joe Flacco and 37 year old running back Frank Gore, who both struggled mightily to get offensive production going. Unfortunately, even when Darnold has been on the field, his play has been noticeably worse. Compared to his 2019 line of 3,024 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions in just 13 games, his 2020 stats have dipped significantly (1,428 yards, 5 TDs, 9 INTS in 8 games). With that being said, coaching is still largely to blame for the Jets. Even though the squad has had a plethora of injuries, 2020 has dealt major blows to almost every other NFL team. They, unlike the Jets, have just been able to handle it better.
Following their week thirteen loss versus the Las Vegas Raiders, Jets owner Woody Johnson fired defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, whose play calling was heavily scrutinized by analysts, fans, and players alike. Other Jets staff members are on the hot seat as well. Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and head coach Adam Gase seem to be next in line to be let go, though the Jets ownership will likely wait until the season ends to fire them.
Overall, the Jets shoddy performance in 2020 cannot be pinned on just one factor. Instead, poor coaching, unfortunate injuries, player regression, and a multitude of other reasons have combined to make this New York Jets season a forgettable one. However, not all hope seems to be lost for the franchise. With the likelihood of obtaining the number one overall pick in the upcoming player draft, the Jets seem to have their sights on Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who is believed to be a transcendent talent who can change an entire team’s fortunes.