Demise of the 2020 New York Jets: 13 reasons for 13 losses – NFL Nation


FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The New York Jets are executing one of the greatest tanks in the history of tank-dom, except this isn’t by design. They’re not trying to lose, but it comes so naturally it seems as if they’ve mastered a plan to secure the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL draft.

Not only are they three losses away from becoming the third 0-16 team in NFL history (the others are the 2008 Detroit Lions and 2017 Cleveland Browns), but the Jets are sinking into “all-time bad” territory. They have been outscored by 210 points, which projects to a minus-258 point differential. Only three teams in the 42-year history of the 16-game schedule fared worse than minus-258, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

How did it get this way? A look at the people and events responsible for 0-13:

1. Jets CEO Christopher Johnson: It starts at the top. Since assuming day-to-day control in 2017, Johnson’s Jets are 16-45, the worst record in the league. To be fair, he inherited a gutted roster, a going-away present from older brother and owner, Woody Johnson, but he has had more than enough time to get it fixed. He has had two general managers and two coaches (soon to be three). His worst decision occurred in the 2019 offseason, when he waited five months before firing …

2. Former Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan: He was sent packing after the 2019 draft and free-agency period, which made no sense. Before leaving, Maccagnan made two of the worst free-agent signings in recent memory, adding running back Le’Veon Bell and linebacker C.J. Mosley. He overpaid for non-premium positions, adding a ton of dead weight to the salary cap. Maccagnan’s failure in the draft room is the reason why the current roster is so lean. In five drafts, he picked only three top-level starters, two of whom are thriving elsewhere — safety Jamal Adams (Seattle Seahawks) and defensive tackle Leonard Williams (New York Giants). The third is defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. Maccagnan also played a key role in the hiring of …

3. Jets coach Adam Gase: He needed only a few months with Maccagnan before realizing their partnership wasn’t going to work. Then — pffft — Maccagnan was gone. Gase was brought in because of his offensive acumen, but the Jets have averaged 14 points in 29 games on his watch — three points fewer than the 31st-ranked team. Even though he never had developed a young quarterback, Gase was charged with the grooming of …

4. Sam Darnold: The quarterback’s regression is hard to watch. There were flickers of promise in his rookie season in 2018, but he has gone the other way under Gase, who admitted recently he has failed Darnold. Quite simply, he’s not playing the position at an acceptable NFL level. He has nearly six times as many sacks (28) as touchdown passes (five). With a top-three draft pick secured, the Jets’ front office will strongly consider a replacement. Darnold’s slide started in March, when …

5. Wide receiver Robby Anderson walked in free agency: This was GM Joe Douglas’ biggest mistake in his first full offseason, and he admitted it recently by saying he miscalculated Anderson’s market value. The Jets let Darnold’s top target go to the Carolina Panthers for two years and $20 million, hardly an outrageous contract. They replaced him with a poor man’s Anderson, Breshad Perriman. Gase said he would be able to scheme ways to replace Anderson’s production by utilizing …

6. Tight end Chris Herndon: Oh, really? The veteran player, once described by Gase as a “unicorn” because of his diverse skill set, has disappeared from the offense. We’re talking about a David Blaine-like vanishing. Herndon rebounded from a terrible start with a breakout game against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 11, but has been targeted once in the past three games. The Jets have turned him into a blocker, a waste of his talent. But he’s not even the biggest disappointment on offense because …

7. Bell was a bust: They paid him $28 million, and all they got out of him was 17 games, four touchdowns and zero 100-yard rushing days. Despite Gase’s objections, the Jets signed him to be their lead back, a dual threat who would elevate Darnold and everybody around him. That was the plan, but the marriage was a spectacular failure, so bad that he was sent packing in Week 6. That triggered another issue …

8. An over-reliance on running back Frank Gore: Coaches have favorite players — we get it — but this is bordering on ridiculous. Since Bell’s departure, Gore has tied or led the team in carries in every game except one — and that one was when he suffered a concussion in the first quarter. Gase’s obsession with Gore, 37, has stunted the development of young backs such as La’Mical Perine (injured) and Ty Johnson, who had eight carries Sunday after delivering the first 100-yard rushing game in the Gase era. It might be a different story if the Jets had a dominant offensive line, but …

9. Douglas blew it in free agency: He nailed the drafting of left tackle Mekhi Becton, but his free-agent additions to the line haven’t panned out. The Jets rank 31st in run-block win rate and 28th in pass-block win rate, according to tracking data from NFL Next Gen Stats. Of all his 2020 moves, Douglas will be remembered for …

10. The Adams trade: While the Jets accumulated significant draft capital that will help in the future, they undeniably hurt their short-term prospects by trading their All-Pro safety. At that moment, they shifted into rebuild mode. No team that fancies itself as a contender deals its best player on the eve of training camp. It created a bad vibe, and they weren’t able to overcome it because …

11. The Jets lack playmakers on defense: Other than Quinnen Williams (six sacks), no player has more than two sacks and only one player has more than two interceptions — cornerback Pierre Desir (three), whose place in team history is secure. He’s the Jets’ nominee for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year, an awesome honor, except he got fired by the Jets in November. You can’t make this up. You know things are bad when …

12. The team can’t even convert basic kicks: Thanks to Sergio Castillo‘s meltdown in Seattle on Sunday, the Jets lead the league with the highest combined percentage of missed PATs and missed field goal attempts inside 40 yards. Lastly, when it doubt, blame it on the …

13. Jets’ difficult schedule: They have played the 11th hardest schedule, and their overall strength of schedule (which includes remaining games) is ranked fifth, according to ESPN analytics. They have faced four teams with losing records, and yet only one of those games was legitimately close.

Bad season. Bad team.



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