In 2015, the New York Jets looked like a team on the rise. They had fired loudmouthed head coach Rex Ryan and replaced him with the reserved, focused, and still-fiery Todd Bowles. The team was 10-5, on the verge of its first playoff appearance since 2010, and all that stood in their way was a date with the Buffalo Bills, who had already been eliminated from playoff contention.
We know what happened next. Former Buffalo Bills’ quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick melted down in epic Fitzpatrician fashion, throwing three interceptions in the fourth quarter. The 22-17 loss dropped the Jets to 10-6, and a victory that same week by the Pittsburgh Steelers eliminated the Jets from contention.
Rather than building on that season, the Jets carried over the negativity from the season’s final game into 2016. Bowles started his tenure as Jets’ head coach 10-5, but the team is 5-12 since that point. After dumping multiple veterans, the Jets seem content to begin a full-scale rebuild in 2017.
Josh McCown QB (FA, Cleveland)
Jordan Todman RB (FA, Jacksonville)
Quinton Patton WR (FA, San Francisco)
Devin Street WR (FA, New England)
Marquess Wilson WR (FA, Chicago)
Jonotthan Harrison C (FA, Indianapolis)
Kelvin Beachum T (FA, Jacksonville)
Spencer Paysinger LB (FA, Miami)
Morris Claiborne CB (FA, Dallas)
Corey White CB (FA, Buffalo)
Shamarko Thomas SS (FA, Pittsburgh)
Chandler Catanzaro K (Arizona)
Jamal Adams S (Draft, Rd. 1, LSU)
Marcus Maye S (Draft, Rd. 2, Florida)
ArDarius Stewart WR (Draft, Rd. 3, Alabama)
Chad Hansen WR (Draft, Rd. 4, California)
Jordan Leggett TE (Draft, Rd. 5, Clemson)
Dylan Donahue DL (Draft, Rd. 5, West Georgia)
Elijah McGuire RB (Draft, Rd. 6, Louisiana-Lafeyette)
Jeremy Clark DB (Draft, Rd. 6, Michigan)
Derrick Jones DB (Draft, Rd. 6, Ole Miss)
The Jets had a strong draft, snagging one of the draft’s best players in Adams and adding a solid compliment to him in Maye in the second round. Stewart, Hansen, and Leggett should form the core of a pretty strong skill-position group over the coming years, but the short-term question about who will throw them the ball is one that will need to be addressed.
Ryan Fitzpatrick QB (Tampa Bay)
Geno Smith QB (New York Giants)
C.J. Spiller RB (Kansas City)
Brandon Marshall WR (New York Giants)
Eric Decker WR (Tennessee)
Breno Giacomini T (Houston)
David Harris LB (New England)
Nick Folk K (Tampa Bay)
Darelle Revis CB (unsigned)
Nick Mangold C (unsigned)
Ryan Clady T (unsigned)
Marcus Gilchrist SS (unsigned)
Erin Henderson LB (unsigned)
Kellen Davis TE (unsigned)
Khiry Robinson RB (unsigned)
Antonio Allen CB (unsigned)
Randell Johnson LB (unsigned)
Brandon Bostick TE (unsigned)
Nick Marshall CB (unsigned)
Mike Catapano DE (unsigned)
Julien Obioha DE (unsigned)
Brandon Burks RB (unsigned)
Jeff Luc LB (unsigned)
Zach Triner LS (unsigned)
Josh Latham LS (unsigned)
Kenny Anunike DE (unsigned)
Chris Swain FB (unsigned)
Plenty of big-names in this category. The team parted ways with its starting quarterback, both of its top receivers, its defensive heart and soul (Harris), and the anchor of its offensive line for the last decade. This is definitely a team in transition.
T-8th (137-119; .535)
As with every AFC East team based outside of Foxboro, the strength of schedule penalty for seeing a 14-2 team twice is harsh.
This is not a roster built to win now, and it’s more likely that the majority of the older players on it won’t be around to see the next time the team is competitive. This is what a full-scale tear down looks like, and I can’t say I blame them for doing it. That was a toxic locker room last year, with multiple instances of teammates bashing other teammates.
Without a surefire answer at quarterback, the Jets are stuck in a bad place for this current season. Christian Hackenberg has been atrocious, by most (but not all) reports, and Bryce Petty was ineffective in limited duty last season. Josh McCown, the man who seems to be the NFL’s go-to placeholder quarterback, joins his tenth NFL team since 2002.
Matt Forte has been a great player for a long time, but he’ll be 32 by season’s end and he has nearly 3,000 NFL touches to his name. The receivers are either new, or new to their roles. The defense may have seven new starters.
It’s probably going to be a very rough year.
Football Outsiders projects the Jets at 6-10, with the 8th-easiest schedule based on DVOA (as opposed to their schedule being the 8th-most difficult based on 2016 overall record). Depending on who is playing quarterback, and how well that person adjusts to the season, this could be a six-win team, and it could be a three-win team. Either way, this seems to be a year where the Jets are looking more towards the future than they are the present.