Since their days as the Titans, the New York Jets have played football since 1960. Which teams rank as the greatest in franchise history?
Sixty—the number of seasons the New York Jets organization owns under its belt since 1960. Known as the Titans, the Harry Wismer-owned franchise entered the upstart American Football League (AFL). The success rate, although not pretty, still trumps a solid collection of other National Football League (NFL) organizations.
Sixty years, a 408-500-8 record, 14 playoff appearances, four division championships and one monumental Super Bowl that changed the face of football forever. There it is in a nutshell. That’s the quick line that’ll surely not impress any reader.
Thankfully, stories cannot be told from a quick sentence filled with a few quick numbers. Jets franchise history showcases much more than one Super Bowl and a win-loss record that ranks 27th for active teams. (Only the Cincinnati Bengals, Atlanta Falcons, Jacksonville Jaguars, Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers put forth a worse winning all-time winning percentage.)
But hey, that’s the bad news. The good news features some of the best teams the NFL has enjoyed through the years, and today, Jets X-Factor ranks the greatest New York Jets teams of all-time.
- 2004 (10-6, Lost DIV)
- 2006 (10-6, Lost WC)
- 2001 (10-6, Lost WC)
- 1991 (8-8, Lost WC)
- 2015 (10-6)
- 1967 (8-5-1)
- 2008 (9-7)
- 1997 (9-7)
- 1988 (8-7-1)
- 1999 (8-8)
Immediately, the Jets fan is slapped in the face with a reminder of 1999. The overwhelming preseason Super Bowl favorite immediately crashed down to Earth the moment Vinny Testaverde‘s Achilles’ tendon snapped. If not for that injury, who knows where the 1999 Jets end up on this list.
It’s a shame the 2004 version could not sneak into the top 10. The lasting image of Chad Pennington‘s strong-arm pose in San Diego (after he bombed a beauty to Santana Moss) burns in fans’ minds today. If not for Doug Brien‘s far-from-strong right leg, New York had a date with the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game that tournament season.
The 1997 season ended in heartbreaking fashion while 1967 was a preview of what was to come. The 8-8 1991 team battled tough in Houston against the Oilers, but could not quite shock the world in the wild-card round. The Brett Favre year of 2008 could have been something special (starting out 8-3 after a dominating win against the undefeated Tennessee Titans), but an injury to the quarterback destroyed everything. Todd Bowles‘s 2015 squad should go down as the most overrated Jets team of all-time.
10. 1986 (10-6, Lost DIV)
It’s a tough chore to chose between the teams of the 1980s, more specifically, the 1986 and 1985 teams. While the 1985 team finished with one more win, it could not capture a playoff win. More on that later.
The ’86 version had New York fans dreaming of a Jets-Giants Super Bowl. The green side started 10-1, winning nine-straight at one point. They squeezed into the playoffs after losing their last six and surprised many with a first-round victory over the Kansas City Chiefs at home. Oh yeah, starter Ken O’Brien, who threw for 3,690 yards and 25 scores that season, was benched in favor of Pat Ryan for that wild-card matchup.
Jets fans know the rest. Up 20-10 in Cleveland against the Browns with just over four minutes remaining in regulation, the defense gave it up and an eventual 23-20 double-overtime loss sent them home. Yes, the defensive gave it up in unimaginable fashion.
What firmly places the ’86 team 10th on the list is the defense, a unit that finished tied for second to last in yards allowed. Imbalance ruled this Jets squad from every angle (high-flying offense to poor defense, hot start to bad finish). If only moments such as the O’Brien-Dan Marino (Wesley Walker three-touchdown game) shootout could have lasted all season.