Are the Jets really the perennial losers everyone makes them out to be?


Okay, that's not the end of the article this time.

But seriously, the Jets are treated in the media as if they are one of the worst teams in the NFL, year in, year out. However, this simply hasn't been the case.

Assuming the Jets have a losing season in 2017, this would be the first time since the Rich Kotite era that they've suffered two losing seasons in a row. It might not even happen. After all, it wouldn't the first time in recent years they've defied the critics.

How do they stack up against the rest of the league in this category? Let's take a look:

Although I could pack up shop with the premise of the article settled and call that a good day's work, there's more to be gleaned from this information.

  • Consecutive losing seasons may be rarer than you'd think. Almost half the league hasn't had two losing seasons in a row for about a decade. Teams often bounce back quickly after a bad season.

  • It can be a path to success. Looking at some of the playoff teams from last year, we can see teams like the Giants, Atlanta and Oakland down near the bottom of the list. So an extended period of losing can set you up for a resurgence.

  • It doesn't always guarantee success. Only six teams have a longer postseason drought than the Jets and all bar one of them either is in a current streak of losing seasons or broke such a streak last season. The one exception are the Bills, who last had two losing seasons in a row in 2012 but haven't been to the playoffs for 17 years. I could see them bottoming out and starting over within a year or two though.

  • You can get stuck in a rut. Clearly there's a danger than you can fall into a cycle of losing. That seemed to happen to the Raiders, who have only just started to break out of that downwards spiral. The Browns are arguably in that situation now and, despite the young talent they keep adding, who knows how soon they'll find their way back to respectability?

  • You can get stuck into a different kind of rut. It seems apparent that the Jets have fallen into a cycle of mediocrity, which might be more difficult to break than a losing cycle. By trying to remain competitive, the Jets have been unable to restock their farm system as well as a couple more losing seasons might have allowed them to do. Perhaps a losing streak is exactly what they need after all. However, higher picks doesn't guarantee you anything because you still need to draft well. It's also possible to draft well without those high picks.

  • Sustained success is achievable; Attaining that success in the first place is the hard part. Look at the list of teams who have gone the longest since they had two losing seasons in a row. The Jets stick out like a sore thumb because those top eight teams have all been to multiple Super Bowls as recently as the 90's and they've all won at least one in that period. The Cardinals, in ninth, almost won one too. So, once you've got a good team in place, you can consistently stay in the mix but getting that team together is the overriding challenge.

  • Quarterback, as ever, is key. The Jets also stand out from those teams at the top end of that list because most of them have had the best quarterback situations in the league. The Broncos are a bit of an outlier here because while they've had some good quarterback play from the likes of John Elway and Peyton Manning over the course of their incredible 45-year consecutive losing season-free streak, their success was founded for a long time on their running game and/or their defense.

  • Coaching stability is clearly a big factor too. Most, if not all, of the teams near the top of that list seem to have had less coaching changes over the years than the Jets. Of course, this is a bit of a vicious cycle because most teams would probably keep their coaches in place until they had at least two losing seasons in a row.


I doubt many people realize quite how long it's been since the Jets had an extended period of losing. In recent decades the team has had a habit of exceeding expectations and restoring some pride by bouncing back from a bad season and getting into the wild card mix, even though they often fell short.

Many fans believe that to build a long-term contender, a couple of losing seasons - especially a last place finish - could be just what a team needs. However, the team needs to beware of falling into a cycle where they create a culture of losing and hurt their ability to attract talent due to their damaged reputation.

However you feel about this approach, it looks like that's the direction the Jets are headed in. It will be interesting to see how quickly they are capable of turning things around.