Dec 20, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) passes the ball against the Denver Broncos during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
For the New York Jets heading into the regular season, they will face a much tougher schedule as these are the top warning signs that it’ll be different this time around.
Now that all the draft hype and hoopla has been over for about a month, it’s time to dissect the 2016 schedule and what to look for in the upcoming season for the New York Jets. When the Jets brought in general manager Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles in 2015, the hope and expectation was that this combination would finally produce consistent success for the Jets organization.
While 2015 was mostly a success as far as improving from the previous season and winning 10 games, the ultimate goal was not achieved as the Jets missed the postseason for the fifth straight year. That bottom line result has left both Maccagnan and Bowles excited to get back on the horse and give the Jets fans another exciting season that features a postseason berth in 2016.
The 2016 schedule presents many challenges that this franchise has never done well overcoming. However, if this franchise is going to take the next step into becoming one of the elite franchises in the NFL, taking on a difficult schedule should not automatically mean that the season is doomed from the start – and I think that is something long time Jets fans always fear.
What I am trying to accomplish by writing articles like this and the last one I wrote about understanding how poor this franchise has been historically, is to inspire the current regime as to what exactly they are trying to change and the negativity that this franchise is embedded in. If Maccagnan and Bowles are the winners we hope they are, they will take this as the ultimate challenge and a few years from now – when Jets fans are celebrating another Super Bowl Trophy – we can all look back and clearly see the difference from this regime compared to the failings of the past.
The other thing is that the front office and fans should not be discouraged by our past or the fact that writers like me point out these pitfalls that have always gotten the better of this franchise. Instead, the front office and fans now clearly see the challenges and understand why so many fans need to see proof of change – not just the same boring excuses spewed by past coaches like Rex, Mangini, Edwards and Coslet to “play like a Jet” and “there is no Same Old Jets” syndrome. What writers like me get disgusted at endless talk of change without the results to prove it.
Here are some of the warning signs that both Maccagnan and Bowles will need to deal with in order to start to produce that consistent, long term success Jets fans have never experienced.
Next: 5. The challenging AFC West
Dec 27, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (19) celebrates after catching a touchdown pass against the Cleveland Browns in the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
5. The challenging AFC West
Week 3 sees the Green & White travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs. Playing an AFC West opponent on the road has been a total disaster for the Jets in recent history.
The Jets have lost five straight and nine of their last 11 games against AFC West opponents on the road. The only two wins the Jets have since 2005 against AFC West opponents on the road came at Oakland in 2009 (38-0) and Denver in 2010 (24-20).
The other disturbing thing about those nine losses in 11 games is they haven’t been close, as the Jets have lost by an average of 16 PPG in those contests. The first of those 11 games was at Kansas City in the 2005 season opener. The Jets have lost their last two games at KC by an average of 15 PPG.
Next: 4. The tough AFC North
Dec 28, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs (55) gets introduced prior to the game against the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
4. The tough AFC North
Unlike last season when the Jets played the AFC South – which produced a combined winning percentage of .390, the intraconference division Jets play this season is the AFC North.
Last season, the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers both won 10 or more games. Historically, the Jets have never had much success against the Steelers – who they are 5-19 against all-time and 1-9 at PITT – with their only win coming in 2010.
Same goes for the Baltimore Ravens – whom after defeating them in their first ever meeting in 1997 – when Vinny Testaverde was the Ravens quarterback – they have lost eight straight games against with five of those coming by double-digits.
The other discouraging thing is the Bengals – whom they have won nine straight against at home, which is where they will start the season – have averaged just under 11 wins in their last five seasons, equaling a .650 win percentage. They are division favorites again this year, and in their only meeting during the Bengals resurgence over the last five seasons, Cincinnati manhandled the Jets 49-9 in 2013.
Next: 3. The incredible defenses of the NFC West
January 16, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) celebrates during the fourth quarter in a NFC Divisional round playoff game against the Green Bay Packers at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Packers 26-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
3. The incredible defenses of the NFC West
Just like when the Jets faced a weak AFC South for their intraconference division opponents in 2015, the NFC division they faced was equally weak facing the NFC East. In 2015, the NFC East finished with a combined win percentage of .406. This season the Jets play the NFC West.
Historically, the Jets have struggled against the San Francisco 49ers, who they have defeated just twice in twelve all-time meetings, which includes a 1-4 mark at San Francisco where they play this season.
Just like the Bengals in the AFC North, the discouraging thing about the NFC West teams the Jets have had historical success against, are two of the best teams in the NFL. The Jets have won six straight against the Arizona Cardinals – a team that won 13 games and earned a first-round bye in the 2015 postseason and advanced to the NFC Championship Game.
Oh and don’t forget about the Seattle Seahawks – whom the Jets have won five straight against at home – which is where they will meet in Week 4. The 2013 Super Bowl Champs and 2014 NFC Champs have averaged just under 12 wins a year the last four seasons and field one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in Russell Wilson.
Next: 2. Primetime isn't the right time
2. Primetime isn’t the right time
The 2016 schedule for the Jets sees them tying a team record with five primetime games on the docket. Historically, this does not fare well for the Jets who are 36-50 all-time in primetime.
The Jets first primetime matchup is at the Buffalo Bills on Thursday Night in Week 2. The Jets have lost five straight on Thursday Night and are 3-8 all-time. They also do not fare well against the Bills in primetime, losing five of their seven all-time meetings. This is combined with the fact that the Jets overall have lost five straight against the Bills by an average of 18 PPG.
The next primetime opponent for the Jets is the Cardinals in Week 6 on Monday Night Football. Historically the Jets are 0-1 against the Cardinals in primetime, losing to them when they were the St. Louis Cardinals in 1971. Overall, the Jets are 21-29 on Monday Night Football, having lost eight of their last 12 appearances.
In Week 12, the Jets host the Patriots in primetime on Sunday Night, which if playing the Patriots isn’t hard enough, playing them in primetime is almost impossible. After defeating quarterback Tom Brady in their first ever primetime matchup in 2002 – which led to the Jets second and last division title – the Jets have since lost seven straight games to Brady under the lights by an average of 16 PPG. Brady has dominated the Jets in those games, averaging 250 YPG and throwing 18 touchdowns while only being intercepted once.
On the positive side, the Jets host the Indianapolis Colts in primetime in Week 13 on Monday Night Football – a team they defeated last season on MNF, and in their two career meetings against Andrew Luck have held him to a quarterback rating of 52.5 while holding him to just 1 touchdown and forcing five interceptions and outscoring the Colts 56-16.
The Jets final primetime game of 2016 is on a Saturday Night in Week 15 as the Miami Dolphins – the opponent that has the most primetime games against the Jets – invade the Meadowlands. This will be the 19th primetime meeting between the two franchises, of which the Jets have won 10 of the previous 18, including going 6-2 against the Fins at home. This will be just the third primetime game the Jets will have played on a Saturday Night, defeating the Dallas Cowboys last season, while losing to the Patriots in 2003.
Next: 1. Coming off a 10-win season
May 25, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles answers questions from media during OTA at Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
1. Coming off a 10-win season
One thing that doesn’t happen often is the Jets winning double-digit games in a season. 2015 marked just the 9th time in 46 seasons since the merger that the Jets won 10 or more games.
Only once in those 46 seasons have the Jets recorded consecutive seasons with 10 or more wins – that came in the 1985-86 seasons.
Since then, the Jets have won 10 or more games in season six times. Their combined record in those six seasons following 10 wins is 39-56 (.411), which is equal to 6.5 wins.