So many low moments for Jets fans to deal with over the years. So many times hope has gone unfulfilled.
Just so much heartbreak.
And now this. With the Jets’ season already having spiraled out of control at 1-6 after another gut-wrenching series of losses, they are one step from yet another ignominious moment. A loss to the 0-7 Dolphins — a team that made its intentions of playing for 2020 and beyond quite clear before the start of the season — would add one more awful chapter to the Jets’ book of misfortune.
As if there hasn’t already been enough misery since that singular moment of triumph when Joe Namath pulled off the upset for the ages in Super Bowl III. Namath produced the most treasured piece of Jets history just a few miles from where Sunday’s Jets-Dolphins game will unfold. His win over the Colts at the Orange Bowl not only cemented Namath’s legacy but legitimized the AFL and turned the Jets into the most captivating team in football.
But they haven't gotten to the Super Bowl since.
Where success once defined the team, a drumbeat of misfortune has taken its place.
Weeb Ewbank’s successor, Charlie Winner, lasted just 23 games before being replaced by Ken Shipp in 1975 … Lou Holtz resigned after just 13 games in 1976 … Richard Todd shoved reporter Steve Serby into a locker in 1981… A run to the 1982 AFC Championship Game ended with defeat in the “Mud Bowl.”
Adam Gase returns to Miami for the first time since being ousted after three seasons as Dolphins coach. And while the Jets’ first-year coach insists his focus lies squarely with trying to beat the Dolphins, he does admit things will be a bit awkward on a personal level.
“To be honest with you, I don't know how that's going to feel for me just because when you walk through the other tunnel, it's probably going to be weird,” he said. “But I know that we have enough to work on that I have to worry about us.”
The Jets’ season came unhinged quickly. A season-opening 17-16 loss to Buffalo in which the Jets blew a 16-0 lead was followed by the news that quarterback Sam Darnold had mononucleosis. Backup Trevor Siemian suffered a season-ending ankle injury the following week in a home loss to the Browns, and the Jets were left in the inexperienced hands of former practice squad quarterback Luke Falk.
By the time Darnold was ready to return, the Jets were 0-4 and virtually out of the playoff race.
Darnold provided a glimmer of hope in his first game back after recovering from his illness, and he looked terrific in a 24-22 win over the Cowboys at MetLife Stadium. But the following week’s game against the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots went miserably. Darnold was off the entire game, throwing four interceptions and losing a fumble in a humiliating 33-0 loss.
And despite a promising start in last Sunday’s road game against the Jaguars, Darnold again stumbled in a 29-15 loss. There were three more interceptions in that one.
The 10-1 start in 1986, followed by five straight losses … The 23-20 double-OT loss to the Browns that year, with the lingering memory a roughing-the-passer penalty on Mark Gastineau … Joe Must Go … The ill-fated Bruce Coslet era … Missing Brett Favre by one pick and settling for Browning Nagle … The Fake Spike … Pete Carroll’s one-and-done in 1994.
It is a confluence of events that has the Jets reeling through the first half of the season, with issues both on and off the field conspiring against them.
This past week, it was another batch of controversy. After dealing former first-round pick Leonard Williams to the Giants on Monday, the Jets fielded calls from teams interested in trading for Jamal Adams, Le’Veon Bell, Robby Anderson and Marcus Maye.
Adams was stung by the team’s willingness to even listen to trade offers, likening himself to the Patriots' Tom Brady and the Rams' Aaron Donald, two players who are considered untouchable by their respective teams. Adams tweeted his displeasure just seconds after first-year general manager Joe Douglas briefed reporters and said no team had offered a deal commensurate with the Jets' opinion of Adams.
The third-year safety accused Douglas of going behind his back after telling Adams a few days earlier that he wouldn’t be dealt and that he was considered a major part of the team. Adams then refused to talk to Douglas or Gase, leaving the relationship fractured. An eventual departure appears inevitable.
The Rich Kotite era … The shovel pass … The ill-fated Neil O’Donnell signing … Bill Belichick’s stunning resignation as “HC of the NYJ” … The Mangini years … Favre’s rapid descent after an 8-3 start.
With Adams insisting he’ll remain excited to be with the team for at least the rest of the season, the Jets now will face the Dolphins, followed by a sequence of games against teams with losing records. It’s a chance for them to get back to respectability.
“We need to do what we do in practice and make sure that it translates to the game,'' Darnold said, "and if we do that, we'll be just fine.”
Bell has preached patience to his teammates and coaches, although he admits he was frustrated after Sunday’s loss in Jacksonville because of a lack of involvement in the offense. That irritation comes from a good place, according to Gase, because he knows Bell believes he can do more to help the team win, not simply pad his individual stats.
To review: No Williams. Adams is upset. Bell and Anderson are happy to be here.
After a captivating first two seasons under Rex Ryan, who got to the AFC Championship Game both years, it was a sustained descent, perhaps best captured by yet another low moment in franchise history: The “Butt Fumble.” … Todd Bowles got close to a playoff berth in his first season, but Ryan Fitzpatrick wilted in the season finale in Buffalo … And now a horrifyingly bad start to the Gase era.
Will a loss to the hapless Dolphins on Sunday turn into the latest debacle?