Another year has come and gone without the Jets winning the Super Bowl. Even the Philadelphia Eagles now have ended their forever Super Bowl drought. If you're counting, that's 49 straight Super Bowls that have been played without the Jets.
Can the 50th time be their charm?
It would, of course, be the perfect way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Jets' monumental upset win in Super Bowl III if they can somehow reach Super Bowl LIII. It won't be easy. They have been the ultimate underdogs over the years with a couple of close calls, but no real threat of contention. And now they're trying to get there while they're in the early stages of a rebuild - and without a franchise quarterback (at least currently), too.
They are 66-1 shots to win it all next year, according to Bovada - only the odds for the Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns are worse (100-1). The Jets are coming off a 5-11 year, and they've missed the playoffs now for seven straight seasons. But they do have a high draft pick, and $100 million in salary cap room to spend in free agency.
So is it possible they'll be on the field in Atlanta next February? Not even Joe Namath would guarantee a scenario that wild. But impossible?
For it to happen, here's some of the work the Jets have to do:
Get a quarterback ready to win now - If they want to be in the Super Bowl next February, it won't be with Baker Mayfield or Josh Allen leading them. Maybe the Jets will decide one of them is their best long-term bet, but for a short-term fix, remember that no rookie QB has ever led their team to a Super Bowl. So, if the Jets are serious, they need to go hard after Kirk Cousins, and then Nick Foles if that doesn't work out. Case Keenum and Sam Bradford are OK fallbacks, but the Jets aren't a strong enough team to trust them to get them to the Super Bowl just yet.
Get some weapons for their quarterbacks - The Jets have decent receivers - Jermaine Kearse, Quincy Enunwa (if he's healthy), Robby Anderson (if he stays out of jail), and Austin Seferian-Jenkins at tight end. But in this passing era, they need a game-breaker - a 100-catch, 1,200-yard nightmare for defenses. The free agent market isn't great, but there could be some decent bargains - Allen Robinson (coming off a torn ACL) and Sammy Watkins for starters. If not, Alabama WR Calvin Ridley seems like a stretch with the sixth pick of the draft, but there'll surely be some good ones available in Round 2.
Get someone who can rush the passer - With Sheldon Richardson gone and Mo Wilkerson going, Leonard Williams is now even more alone than he's been in this department. The Jets, according to a source, have their eyes on Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence, but it sounds like Dallas will franchise him. DE Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah is a free agent, but he's an injury risk. N.C. State's Bradley Chubb would be a terrific draft option if he somehow falls to No. 6.
Become more aggressive (and better at managing the game) - The argument against Todd Bowles' recent contract extension has been his poor game-management, and passive style of coaching. The counterargument has been that if it seems like he's coaching scared, it's because for three years he hasn't had the talent to coach boldly. That has to change. Doug Pederson just proved that fortune can favor the bold in the NFL. And Bill Belichick showed how a few poor coaching decisions can very easily blow up in a contender's face.
Be more creative on offense - Several Jets offensive players believe this will happen under presumed new offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates. There were great frustrations last season among the players with the simplistic calls of OC John Morton. They felt the weapons they had in the passing game, in particular, could have been better used. With new weapons must come a new philosophy.
Strengthen the offensive line - The line was OK at times, and terrible at others last season - much better in run blocking than pass defending. It needs a boost, though, and there should be some help available in free agency. That's important because with Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire and maybe even another year of Matt Forte, the Jets' rushing attack is a strength. Building up the line will make it stronger.
Follow the rules - Getting rid of Wilkerson will certainly help with this. Even some of his teammates tired of how he just ignored Bowles' simplest rules - like showing up on time - and made it clear he didn't care when he was punished. He won't be missed. But he wasn't alone. Remember, Darron Lee was a rule-breaker last year too. He needs to buy in a little more. The real leaders in the locker room need to set an example, and show everyone else that if they don't buy in to everything as a team, they'll never win. With Wilkerson and Richardson gone, that should be much easier. Bowles needs to make sure of that.