New York Jets Playoff Drought: Close Calls and Heartbreaks

Admin - December 17, 2023

Oh, the New York Jets. They've had some rough times in the recent past, haven't they? But perhaps none so tough as the 2023 campaign.

Heading into the ongoing NFL season, many thought that the MetLife Stadium side was one of the outsiders for the Lombardi. Their blockbuster trade for Aaron Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers was a statement of intent, and many expected the four-time MVP to bring the Jets back to the big time. Those dreams lasted all six minutes.

A-Rod went down injured just minutes into his debut against the Buffalo Bills, and the Jets never recovered. After the postseason promised so much, the Jets are currently languishing down in third place in the AFC East with a paltry record of 5-8. One imagines that they would need to win all of their remaining games to have any hope of reaching the playoffs this term and as such, NFL odds at Bovada make them a whopping +30000 outsiders to win the Lombardi this term. We doubt anyone will be putting a buck on that.

With another year being added onto their already decade-plus drought, the culmination of the current season will mark 12  seasons since they last tasted the postseason, the longest of any team in the league. Some memorable players and moments in recent years have seen the franchise come agonizingly close to ending their dry spell without actually doing it.

2011: Bengals Pip the Jets to Sixth Seed Status

Coming off two consecutive conference championship appearances, the Jets had high hopes for the 2011 season. Despite a turbulent campaign, they were in the prime position with a record of 8-5 with just three games remaining. Inexplicably however, they lost all three, firstly at the Philadelphia Eagles, then heartbreakingly at home to their cross-city rival New York Giants, and finally on the road at the Miami Dolphins.

That left them with a modest 8-8 record, the same as two other teams as well as the AFC West-winning Denver Broncos. This time, it was the Cincinnati Bengals who clinched the last playoff spot with a record of 9-7. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was another defensive player who shone for the Jets that year - cornerback Darrelle Revis had four interceptions and an impressive 52 tackles throughout the course of the campaign. A third straight season of promise looked to be on the cards when they defeated the Dallas Cowboys in Texas on the opening week of the campaign, but that crushing 45-19 defeat to the Eagles toward the latter stages of the season - on national TV, no less - was the final nail in the coffin.

2013: Four-Way Tie Sees Chargers Progress

In Rex Ryan's fifth season as head coach, the Jets went on a surprising run in the final stretch of the campaign. After starting 5-7, they won three of their last four games to have a shot at the playoffs in Week 17. However, they needed some help from other teams and lost to the Miami Dolphins, making their effort useless.

Three other teams finished with the same record however, it was the San Diego Chargers that qualified as they had a better conference record. The best player on that squad was probably defensive tackles Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson, with the former notching up 10.5 sacks and three forced fumbles and the latter securing Pro Bowl honors. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to push his side over the edge.

2015: Impressive Campaign Still Not Enough

The most heartbreaking end to a Jets' season in the last decade came in 2015. Despite finishing with a 10-6 record, their best since 2010, the Jets needed some outside help to reach the playoffs. The Pittsburgh Steelers, who had the same record as the Jets, held the tiebreaker based on common opponents. The Jets did everything they could in Week 17, narrowly knocking off the Bills, 22-17, but the Steelers took care of business and advanced to the postseason.

Their worst defeat that year came in week 10 when they lost 22-17 to the Houston Texans. It's hard to imagine a worse way to lose a season than being edged out by the Texans not once, but twice. But one small positive in an otherwise disappointing end to a season was the performance of wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who set a franchise record with 109 receptions and 1,502 yards.

2022: Second Half of the Season Collapse

Last season was perhaps more disappointing than all the other seasons combined.  After 12 games, the Jets were flying high with a 7-4 record. It looked like they might actually break the curse and make the playoffs. They had picked up some impressive victories against their divisional rivals in the form of the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins, both of whom were on a great run of form themselves.

But alas, it was not meant to be. In the second part of the campaign, they proceeded to lose their last six games on the spin managing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Their last three defeats were particularly depressing, and the Jets scored just 15 points in all three games.