The Current State Of The Jets
PERCEPTION VS REALITY
The New York Jets are widely believed to be a losing franchise. As of January 12th 2013, It's been 44 years since the Jets have won a superbowl. There have been many ups and a lot more downs since that ground breaking and league changing championship in 1969. Throughout the 70's and much of the 80's, The Jets became an irrelevant franchise. Very few winning seasons or playoff seasons over the course of two decades. There were slight hiccups along the way where the Jets made an impact and went on runs towards a championship(1982) but there was a lot more losing than winning in those two decades.
The 90's saw the Jets start off somewhat promising only to fall badly and become a laughingstock by the time 1996 finished. It wasn't until Bill Parcells arrived in 1997, That the Jets would change course and change their culture and become a contender. Since 1997, The Jets have been a respectable and contending franchise. They won their first division title since the merger in 1970 and from 1998 to present day, The Jets have won two division titles and have made the playoffs 7 different times and have made 3 trips to the AFC Championship Game. In the last 16 seasons, The Jets have only 4 non winning seasons. In the era of parody, that measures up pretty well against the other 31 NFL franchises. The Jets transformed from being a laughing stock and irrelevant franchise to being relevant and a legitimate contender. The local and national media would have you believe otherwise but the Jets have been a respectable franchise since 1997.
BACK TO THE DARK AGES
This leads me to where I feel this franchise is now headed or currently is. It looks like the Jets have officially reverted back to their losing ways prior to 1997. It's been a long time since the Jets franchise was considered and expected to be awful and that's where they currently stand. The late season collapse of 2011 and the ugliness of 2012 have combined to set this franchise back and downward. It's amazing how far down the team has gone after two magical runs near the mountain top just two years ago. There are a lot of people to blame for the downfall. Poor leadership and team awareness by Rex Ryan. Poor management by Mike Tannenbaum and poor ownership and guidance by Woody Johnson. The run is over. You can not recapture the vibe and aura that the franchise had.
It's hard to gauge what direction the Jets are currently in. Are they retooling or rebuilding? The model for rebuilding is in place, A young roster with a lot of departing veterans. You have uncertainty at key spots like QB and a new leader of football operations in John Idzik. At the same time, The Jets have the same football leader in place in Rex Ryan, the same quality defensive system and a whole new accomplished offensive staff. Rex is coaching for his life in 2013. If the Jets do not have a winning season or make the playoffs. He is gone. He knows it and the entire organization knows it. Rather than begin a complete organizational reset. Woody Johnson has decided to try and take another shot. The problem is that The Jets are not constructed properly to be a legitimate contender. They do not and will not have the neccessary cap room to improve their talent base. They don't have the current talent base to be a legitimate contender. The team is stuck in neutral. If 2013 goes as projected, The Jets will have to reset the entire organization from the coaching staff to the scouting department a year from now. The only person that will remain is John Idzik. Instead of using 2013 to build for 2014. The Jets are putting off the rebuild for another year in the hopes of getting back to where they were. That ship has sailed. Woody failed to realize that or doesn't want to face that reality. By attempting this in 2013, The Jets are pretty much setting themselves up for potentially two more losing seasons in 2013 and 2014. Even if the organization gets things on track, They may not contend until 2015.
There is always a fine line between realistic and pessimistic. So I know that this thread can be seen in both lights. Probably leaning more towards the pessimistic side. There is something about the way 2012 ended that made me feel like we are back to the way things were before 1997. I hope that I am wrong.