Which Was the Best New York Jet Team Since 1980?

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Which Jet team over the last 33 years was best? It is a purely subjective question. Four teams made it to the AFC Championship Game but were there other Jet teams that were better and circumstances prevented them from reaching their potential? Here are some contenders but leave your opinion in the comments section:

1981 Jets – The team finished 6-3 in a strike-shortened season qualifying for the playoffs beating Cincinnati and the Raiders before losing to Miami in the controversial AFC Championship Game. Miami was able to slow down a Jet offense that averaged 27 points per game by “forgetting’ to put the tarp on the field before a rainstorm and Jets fell to the Dolphins 14-0. The offense was led by Richard Todd at QB, Freeman McNeil at RB, Wesley Walker at WR and Mickey Shuler at TE. The defense was led by Mark Gastineau at DE, Joe Klecko (lost for 14 weeks due to a knee injury) at DE/DT, and MLB Greg Buttle.

1986 Jets – The team finished 10-6 after starting 10-1 and made it to the playoffs as a Wild Card. After a victory over the Chiefs the team went to Cleveland and lost in 2 overtimes. It was a game they had won in regulation after they stopped Cleveland on a 2nd and 24 late in the game. However, Mark Gastineau was called for roughing the passer which extended the drive and allowed Cleveland to rally back from 20-10 to tie the score. The team scored 364 points averaging nearly 23 points per game and the offense was very strong at the skill positions. Ken O’Brien at QB, Freeman McNeil and Johnny Hector at RB, Wesley Walker and Al Toon at WR and Mickey Shuler at TE. If the offensive line protected better, it allowed 40 sacks, the team could have averaged close to 30 points a game. Case in point was the Week 3 game vs Miami. Ken O’Brien threw for 479 yards and 4 TDs including the game-tying and winning touchdowns to Wesley Walker as the Jets won 51-45 in overtime. Defensively a weak secondary was masked by the New York Sack Exchange, a defensive line of Joe Klecko, Marty Lyons, and Mark Gastineau. Gastineau only had 2 sacks as he battled through injuries most of the year but came back for the playoffs and had 3 1/2 in two games.

1998 Jets – The team finished 12-4 (3 of the losses were due to Glenn Foley who started the year as QB before Testaverde took over) and won their first AFC East title and had a bye in the playoffs. They beat the Jacksonville Jaguars at home and faced John Elway and the Broncos for the AFC Championship. The Jets blew a 10-0 lead and fell 23-10 behind 6 turnovers. The offense averaged 26 points per game behind Vinny Testaverde at QB, Curtis Martin at RB, and Keyshawn Johnson and Wayne Chrebet at WR. The defense behind Mo Lewis, Bryan Cox and Aaron Glenn allowed 16.6 points per game good for 2nd in the league.

2002 Jets – The team finished 9-7 and won their second AFC East title then shut out the Peyton Manning-led Colts 41-0 at home before succumbing to the Raiders 30-10 in the divisional round. The team started 2-5 and turned their season around after the famous Herm Edwards “You play to win the game” speech before the San Diego game. They finished 7-2 to win the division. Vinny Testaverde gave way to Chad Pennington after 4 games at QB, Curtis Martin and Lamont Jordan at RB, and Laverneus Coles, Santana Moss and Wayne Chrebet at WR sparked the offense. John Abraham, Shaun Ellis, Marvin Jones and Mo Lewis led the defense.

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  • matr dontelli iii

    2010 followed by 1981. in 2010 we had hard knocks, the comeback victories and everything was breaking in our favor. after the season i was walking in beautiful downtown newark, nj wearing my jets sweatshirt and some complete stranger pointed out that we should have won that year. ‘you guys shoulda won last year. that was your year, man.’ and it was. but the defense spotted the steelers 17 points on the road can’t do that. 1981 because the dolphins left the field uncovered to take away our speed advantage, and it worked. had they covered the field we likely would have won that game and gone to the superbowl we had the full sack exchange going and the offense was fast and potent. shula finally got his revenge from superbowl iii.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.willie.509 Joe Willie

      81 The field was a big factor—looking at the conditions Micheals blow his stack – the team lost its composure and Todd blew it– F Shula I hate him! he lost the SB again that yr to an ex jet John Rigggins

      • matr dontelli iii

        i was gonna mention that riggins got our revenge. i picked this team because i felt they were not beaten fairly whereas the others were beaten fairly though most beat themselves rather than were beaten. in 81 if i recall correctly there was a blown call leading to miami’s first touchdown, maybe a bad call on a fumble. this put the jets in a hole and then they started trying to throw in the bad conditions instead of being patient. recipe for disaster. i don’t understand why teams lose their patience when down by a single score early in a game. just play your game. if you’re the better team you’ll come back and win. the only time you need to try to hurry to get back into the game is when it’s the fourth quarter, or if you’re behind by more than three scores in the first half.

        • http://www.facebook.com/joe.willie.509 Joe Willie

          Joe Walton was calling the plays as OC in the 81 season –he wasted a lot of talent in the 1980s as an OC and HC–BrUTAL!

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.willie.509 Joe Willie

    Best “team” since 1980 was the 1998 group, they were on a great roll and Parcells was pushing all the right buttons till the 2nd half of the Denver game in the AFC championship game when it unexplainablely fell apart—if Parcells started Vinny from the beginning instead of the injury/mistake prone Folly we might have had home field and crushed the Broncos, then easily won the SB vs the Falcons The teams of the mid 80′s had the best talent front-liners and depth–But Joe Walton couldn’t make it happen.

    • Craig Hoffman

      Even though I didn’t list it the 1999 team might have been best of all but got blown up by the Testaverde injury Week 1.