There are plenty of Jets fans who thought that they already saw the very worst this franchise has to offer.
But 24 years after what was once — by far and away — the worst version of Gang Green we thought we had ever seen in the 1996 Jets led by Rich Kotite, here comes Adam Gase’s 2020 version of the Jets who might be one of the worst teams in NFL history.
How fitting of 2020 to provide just one further indignation for Jets fans, one more reason for melancholy. Like they haven’t suffered enough over the last 50 years.
After getting run out of Kansas City, 35-9, by the defending Super Bowl-champion Chiefs on Sunday, the Jets dropped to 0-8 on the season — the first time that’s happened since Kotite’s bunch went 1-15 in ’96.
Those Jets were a rag-tag bunch of borderline veteran talents and young players that would soon go on to transform the Jets into a team of pseudo-competence. But they were an absolute mess that season.
Starting quarterback Neil O’Donnell lasted just six games before a separated shoulder and a calf injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year.
It’s not like the veteran was the team’s key to success anyway as he struggled mightily in his first year with the Jets after five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He completed just over 58% of his passes for 1,147 yards with four touchdowns and seven interceptions.
His backup was Frank Reich, who just four years earlier took the Buffalo Bills to the Super Bowl as Jim Kelly’s backup, but he was just as bad, if not worse, completing just 52.5% of his passes with 15 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 10 games (seven starts).
The other three were started by Glenn Foley, who appeared in just 21 NFL games over a six-year career with the Jets and the Seattle Seahawks.
Their wide receivers were young and unpolished, though they would go on to much greater heights. New York’s leading receiver was a second-year undrafted talent out of Hofstra in Wayne Chrebet, who went on to become one of the franchise’s most iconic pass catchers.
His No. 2 was a rookie out of USC that was taken No. 1 months earlier in Keyshawn Johnson, who began a decorated career in the Meadowlands.
But this was a team that found most of its success on the ground as Adrian Murrell had a career season with 1,249 rushing yards and six touchdowns — the first of three-straight 1,000-yard-plus seasons, though that third year came with the Arizona Cardinals.
The defense certainly had some promising pieces as well with the likes of Victor Green, Mo Lewis, Aaron Glenn, and Hugh Douglas all lining up for Gang Green.
But Kotite couldn’t get out of his own way, and neither could defensive coordinator Jim Vechiarella.
Over their first eight games, they were outscored by almost 100 points, 212-114 with a -98 point differential that was 11 points worse than the next closest team.
They were a laughing stock, an embarrassment — a team that Jets fans thought they would never see again.
And yet, here they are in 2020 with a team that could very well be even worse.
Owner Christopher Johnson’s comments in September calling Gase a “brilliant offensive mind,” looks more perplexing by the week.
The team is purging talent as general manager Joe Douglas is focused on gaining draft capital while the product on-field continues to suffer immensely.
Gase isn’t calling the plays anymore, handing those duties off to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains — yet the talent-less offense around Sam Darnold is worthless. Granted, Gase doesn’t do much to evaluate the young talent he does have in an attempt to find a diamond in the rough, pulling stunts like giving more carries to 37-year-old running back Frank Gore rather than rookie La’Michal Perine.
It’s a mess, and it’s even worse than the 1996 team:
Jets team statistics through first 8 games: 1996 vs. 2020
1996: 114 (29th of 30 NFL teams)
2020: 94 (32nd of 32 NFL teams)
Total Yards Gained
1996: 2,542 (15th)
2020: 2,072 (30th)
Passing Yards Gained
1996: 1,783 (11th)
2020: 1,247 (Last)
Rushing Yards Gained
1996: 759 (25th)
2020: 825 (21st)
1996: 212 (27th)
2020: 238 (31st)
Total Yards Allowed
1996: 2,726 (26th)
2020: 3,191 (29th)
At least the 1996 Jets were able to pull out their lone victory of the season in Week 9 against the Cardinals, a 31-21 triumph featuring a 199-yard day from Murrell with a touchdown.
For the 2020 squad, there’s no end to the pain in sight anytime soon, presenting the tangible danger that this team could go 0-16.
The Jets will not be favored in any of their final eight games of the season, playing the New England Patriots twice, the Los Angeles Chargers, Miami Dolphins, Las Vegas Raiders, Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Rams, and Cleveland Browns.
While the Patriots are struggling and the Chargers are better than their 2-5 record suggests, they’re far more talented than the Jets. The Dolphins sit at No.2 in the AFC East while the Seahawks, Rams, and Browns have at least five wins heading into Week 9.
Given the way they’ve lost by double-digits in six of their eight games, nothing suggests that the Jets will win one, let alone be competitive.
This really will be the worst team in franchise history.