Why the New York Jets Will Be the Worst NFL Team of the Upcoming Decade
The Jets, ranked No. 8 on the list of cursed franchises, appear ready to experience some more bad luck during the 2010s.
The Jets of this past year have some very similar comparisons to the Detroit Lions of 10 years ago, the team that underachieved and paved the way to where the Lions are at right now.
- The Lions drafted Charlie Batch in the second round in 1998 as their new franchise quarterback to succeed the aging Scott Mitchell. The Jets drafted Mark Sanchez in 2009 to replace Brett Favre, who had "retired" before joining the Vikings.
- The Lions had an aging receiver in Herman Moore and two young, up-and-coming, and often underrated receivers in Germane Crowell and Johnnie Morton, both of whom achieved 1,000-yard receiving seasons. The Jets match that with their young receivers, Jerricho Cotchery and Santonio Holmes. While Braylon Edwards is still young, at age 27, his best days appear to be behind him
- The Lions had a run-based offense before Barry Sanders retired in 1999, and then they struggled some on the ground after that. The Jets had a run-based offense in 2009 as well, and they released Thomas Jones this offseason.
- The Lions had one of the top five defenses in the NFL in 2000 and were able to win four of their nine victories without scoring an offensive touchdown. The Jets had the top-ranked defense in 2009.
- The Lions started out 8-4 in 1999 but lost their last four games and finished 8-8. Despite this, they still managed a wild-card spot, where they lost to the Washington Redskins. The Jets started 4-6 but were able to win five out of their last six games, including two against teams that were resting their starters, and they grabbed a wild-card spot as well.
Both of these teams are considered among the worst playoff teams in NFL history, although the Jets probably shed this label when they went to the AFC Championship game.
- Finally, the most convincing similarity is the record of these two teams the decade before. During the '90s, the Lions were actually a pretty decent team, as they went 79-81 throughout the decade and even appeared in an NFC Championship Game. The Jets were the only team during the 2000s to finish with a record at exactly .500, posting an 80-80 record.
- The Lions also made the playoffs six times during the '90s, and the Jets made it five times. However, neither team went further than their conference championship games.
- Charlie Batch actually performed well under center during his first two years as a starter, posting QB ratings of almost 85 during 1998 and 1999. He would have likely won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1998 if it weren't for Randy Moss' incredible rookie season. Mark Sanchez, frankly, looked horrible for most of the year, as he threw more interceptions than all quarterbacks not named Jay Cutler, and in far fewer pass attempts as well.
- The Lions picked up James Stewart after he had already been in the league for five years. Shonn Greene is only entering his second year of play
- The Lions had a veteran head coach in Bobby Ross who had already taken the San Diego Chargers to a Super Bowl and won Coach of the Year. The Jets have Rex Ryan, who is in only his second year as a head coach.
- The Jets have some aging veterans, and traded away most of their draft picks this year, leaving them with only 4 picks during the draft. This increases the possibility that they will miss on all of these picks
Despite these differences, the Jets still possess a carbon copy of the Detroit Lions of 10 years ago and look to follow in their footsteps sometime within the next decade.
In 2000, the Lions were picked by many as the preseason favorite to win their division. They started out well, going 5-2 in their first seven games and keeping pace with Minnesota. After a win on Thanksgiving Day, they were 8-4 and in second place in the division.
However, two losses brought the Lions to a must-win situation against the Jets. Although they did not score an offensive touchdown, they won, 10-7. The final week of the season, they hosted the 4-11 Chicago Bears, and all they had to do was win the game and they would be in the playoffs. Even if they lost, they could still make the playoffs if St. Louis and Green Bay both lost.
By the way the game started, it looked like a rout. The Lions jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter after a Chicago turnover. But Batch was injured, and the Lions let the Bears back in. Late in the game, the Lions actually found themselves in a tie, 20-20. As they were driving towards the winning field goal, third stringer Stoney Case was sacked and fumbled, and the Bears recovered.
The Bears were able to drive down the field, and on the last play of the game, rookie kicker Paul Edinger booted a 55-yard field goal through the uprights, giving the Bears a dramatic 23-20 win. This occurred just minutes after the Rams beat the Saints and put the Rams in the playoffs, while the Lions went home at 9-7.
During the offseason, many changes were made, and Matt Millen—the worst general manager in NFL history—was hired. Marty Mornhinweg, the new coach for the Lions, lasted just two seasons, going 5-27 during his tenure
Finally, seven years later, the Lions successfully completed the worst season in the history of professional football by becoming the first NFL team to go 0-16.
The Jets are a preseason favorite to win their division and possibly go back to the AFC Championship game. However, the future of this team is in question. They have aging receivers, and Mark Sanchez has "bust" written all over him, especially after you look at the stats from his rookie season.
It is only a matter of time before changes have to be made, and these changes will not necessarily be the right ones, leading to a mess of a franchise.
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