The 2019 New York Jets, dealing with one issue after another, horribly contrast with the “team of destiny” idea.
Well, whatever hope there was has been extinguished. The 2019 New York Jets will not be a miracle team.
After a 22-6 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals that was immediately inserted into dictionaries next to the word “nondescript,” the Jets find themselves back where they’ve been all too often: the middle of nowhere, unable to go forwards and unwilling to go back.
Implicit in the Jets’ dashed hopes for a miracle, of course, is that the hopes were there at all. A lowly 1-7 after a November loss to the Dolphins, the Jets won three in a row, scoring 34 points each game. Fans loved it. Never mind that the wins came against the Giants, Redskins and Raiders, whose current combined record sits at 9-22 — things were looking up.
Surely the Jets would beat the Bengals and move to 5-7… then, hungry for revenge, they would dominate the Dolphins and move to 6-7… the Ravens would rest their stars for a playoff run, and the Jets would beat them and move back to .500.
Now, flush with momentum, the Steelers and the Bills would be easy targets. It was practically destiny.
In hindsight, of course, it’s beyond obvious how many unlikely pieces had to fall into place for any of this to happen. Good teams needed to fail at exactly the right moments. Bad teams needed not to have good days, and the Jets — a bad team — needed to have only good days. Le’Veon Bell needed to find his form and keep it. Sam Darnold needed to throw touchdown passes. For things to really go right, the Jets probably needed to have drafted Patrick Mahomes in 2017.
Of course, things went wrong. I don’t think anyone really believed they would go right, much as fans might have convinced themselves it was just possible enough to be exciting. It’s a marked contrast with the 2012 season, in which 4-7 was the low point, the basement from which the Jets climbed ever so briefly with back-to-back victories before fading down the stretch and finishing 6-10. Now, in 2019, 4-7 is as good as things seem likely to get.
The loss to the Bengals, which ended a miracle run that never really started, exemplified the 2019 Jets perfectly. An inexplicable loss to a terrible team, and not even an exciting loss. 22-6 the final score, certainly not a blowout but also not a nailbiter.
The Jets failed to even score a touchdown, but twice turned the ball over on downs, and also conceded a safety. Even the most committed of Jets fans surely had to struggle not to change the channel.
The ball kept moving back and forth, and the score changed every once in a while, but nothing really happened. It was just that kind of game. In the second quarter, after the Jets punted for a third consecutive possession and the Bengals scored to take a 17-3 lead, the game was pretty clearly a loss.
So the Jets went through the motions, and at least pretended to play the rest of a football game, though they clearly weren’t coming back. The contest stayed just close enough to look like football, but the outcome was obvious.
So what will the Jets do now? Probably what they did on the field: they’ll meander. They’ll wander directionless, accomplishing the opposite of whatever they need. If history is any guide, the Jets will finish 5-11 and land four or five draft picks below where they need to be. They’ll draft the wrong player for the slot, and maybe he’ll be likable and exciting and talented — hello Jamal Adams — but he won’t be enough.
Then they’ll finish 6-10 the next season and draft the wrong player at the wrong time, and the cycle will continue. Besides coaches cycling in and out and maybe an exciting 9-7 season here and there, I don’t see how it ever changes. The Jets stay just competitive enough to look like football, but the outcome is obvious.
Or maybe that’s just how a Jets fan feels after losing to the hitherto-winless Bengals in the midst of an admittedly-meaningless three-game winning streak. Rationally speaking, the Jets will be okay, and one day they’ll win. It’s hard to believe these days; you should believe it. It’s just not today.
The 2019 Jets won’t be remembered fondly by their fans. But just like their loss to the Bengals, they’re also not quite bad enough to be remembered for being terrible. The 2019 Jets aren’t a team of destiny. They’re a team we’ll all forget.
All we can do is hope that eventually the Jets will play football we’ll be proud to remember, and life as a Jets fan will become something more than one long loss to the 0-11 Bengals.