Throughout this series, we've been looking at minor aspects of the Jets as currently constituted, such as their pass rush or running game.
Today, we're going to take a look at the big picture. Sometimes it can be rough to be a Jets fan if they're blowing leads or losing trap games. Last year it looked like the wheels were coming off and it would be a long time before the team was even competitive again. However, the team hasn't fared as badly as expected and actually has a promising future ahead based on some of the building blocks they have in place and the assets available to them next offseason.
So, let's look around the league for some teams whose current and short-term outlook are worse than that of these Jets:
New York Giants. This has been a disastrous year for the 1-8 Giants, who just lost badly to a 49ers team many people thought were the NFL's worst. After going 11-5 in 2016, the Giants crashed out of the playoffs in the first round and their struggles this year seem to suggest that their success was just as smoke-and-mirrors-y as that of the 2015 Jets.
At this point, the Giants are more of a perennial embarrassment than the Jets, as they will suffer their fourth losing season in five years barring an improbable seven-game winning streak to end the season.
Poor coaching, off-field controversies, defensive players loafing and a stubborn refusal to upgrade their personnel on the offensive line have all blighted the team this season.
Injuries have no doubt played a major factor, but even without those it's clear the locker room culture was rotten, the roster lacks depth and some of their talent isn't as good as was thought.
They've even lost their "classiness" trump card with incidents such as the Josh Brown fiasco, the recent in-house suspensions and multiple incidents involving Odell Beckham clouding their usually squeaky-clean perception within the media.
Sure, they won a Super Bowl fairly recently, which they'll always be able to use to tweak their crosstown rivals. However, the requisite five-year period is up at the end of the season so their fans can justifiably really start to grumble. And let's face it, both of their wins over the last decade were Florida Marlin-esque flashes in the pan.
Quarterback Eli Manning looks like he'll be on his way soon, so you can reset the clock on them having their franchise quarterback situation resolved. And, sure, they might draft one this year, but - as we've already established - none of those are sure things.
Oh, and enjoy those pending OBJ contract negotiations. That should be fun!
Miami Dolphins. Are the Dolphins any better off than the Jets? It seems not. They're only half a game ahead in the standings, despite losing their starting quarterback, but just traded away their star running back, a sure sign that they're giving up on this year. That's showing on the field too, as they've lost three straight, surrendering 40 points in two of those losses.
The Dolphins recently locked up their franchise quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, but he never really made that leap towards elite status. Tannehill was lost for the year to a preseason injury leaving Miami with a highly paid player coming off an injury in 2018 and who they were never really sure if he was "the guy" anyway.
$5.5 million of his 2018 salary is guaranteed for injury, a guarantee that crystallizes next March. Add in the fact that they already deferred $5 million of the cap hit on Jay Cutler's deal to next season and it looks like they'll be on the hook for over $10 million before they even make a decision on what to do with Tannehill. Not having a franchise quarterback is a problem, but paying one who isn't quite good enough is arguably even worse.
The success of the defense relies heavily on Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake, who are now 30 and 35 respectively. However, the Dolphins' struggles this year have been in spite of those guys still playing well. If they moved on from either, it would create a significant hole.
They don't have much of a foundation on the offensive line either. Laremy Tunsil was drafted to be a cornerstone piece but hasn't lived up to his pre-draft hype yet. Their lack of depth has been exposed by having Jesse Davis - a player who didn't even last on the third unit with the Jets - as an overmatched replacement starter.
The main reason the Dolphins are worse off than the Jets right now is Mike Tannenbaum. The Dolphins are now in that phase of Tannenbaum's roster development where they've built the roster, are completely capped out and need to overextend themselves each year to fill all their needs and comply with the cap.
Basically, the Dolphins are in the same position as the 2011 Jets and they will have to rely on signing players equivalent to a washed up Plaxico Burress or Derrick Mason, injury prone players like LaRon Landry or never-will-be's like Chaz Schilens or Lex Hilliard in order to remain competitive and extend their window while still paying Suh and Tannehill.
Tellingly, the Dolphins are currently in the bottom 10 for projected 2018 cap space...and 2019 and 2020 cap space. We know from experience how Mike Tannembaum will handle this situation and that it doesn't have a high probability of success.
Cleveland Browns. At the start of the season, all we heard was how talented the Browns were. They have so much talent and so many young players. However, they also - yet again - have a zero next to their name in the win column.
The Browns might have plenty of individual talent, but they don't have any semblence of a team and, collectively, seem to have no idea how to win games, even those where they seem to have plenty of favorable match-ups.
In a few years' time, all that talent is going to either command a ton of money or head elsewhere to fully realize their potential having got all their learning experiences out of their system.
The Browns clearly show us the downside of tanking in a NFL where one or two potentially elite players aren't enough to turn a bad team into a good one and probably develop slower than they otherwise would by virtue of playing on a team that lacks a winning culture.
Maybe they'll come good eventually. After all, many people thought they'd start to make strides this year and we'll probably continue to hear about their abundance of talent once they add to it in next year's draft.
However, they're starting from a much worse position than the Jets, whose rebuild is arguably already underway and trending upwards. The Browns need to dig themselves out of a hole before they can even start work on building off their foundation.