The days of multi-year rebuilds are over in the NFL. Teams in recent years have been able to turn things around faster than ever before.
Take last season, for example, the Washington Football Team who finished 3-13 in 2019 completely flipped the script in 2020. Despite only winning four more games than the previous season (7-9), that record was good enough for a divisional title and a home playoff game.
The New York Jets will be hoping they can follow a similar path in 2021.
History Is Very Much on Gang Green’s Side
In the last 10 years, 12 first-year NFL head coaches have made the playoffs, per Good Morning Football:
- Kevin Stefanski, Cleveland Browns (2020)
- Matt LaFleur, Green Bay Packers (2019)
- Matt Nagy, Chicago Bears (2018)
- Frank Reich, Indianapolis Colts (2018)
- Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills (2017)
- Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams (2017)
- Ben McAdoo, New York Giants (2016)
- Adam Gase, Miami Dolphins (2016)
- Mike McCoy, Los Angeles Chargers (2013)
- Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles (2013)
- Chuck Pagano, Colts (2012)
- Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers (2011)
That’s a very impressive list, but Jets fans can simply take a look at their own team’s history to find a similar pattern.
Starting with Herm Edwards back in 2001, he made the postseason in his first year as the Jets head coach with a 10-6 record. Then a few years later Eric Mangini also posted a 10-6 record and made the playoffs in his first year as the Gang Green head honcho (2006). Finally, Rex Ryan delivered on his promise with a playoff berth in year No. 1 with a 9-7 record in 2009, per Pro Football Reference.
There’s a famous quote that fits this thought process perfectly, “once is a chance, twice is a coincidence, and three times is a pattern.”
So You’re Saying There’s a Chance?
The Jets currently own the longest active NFL playoff drought (10 years), but just because they hit the reset button this offseason doesn’t mean they should temper expectations.
The green and white are in a better position to reach the playoffs in 2021 than they’ve been in a long time.
NFL Playoff Expansion
Starting last season the NFL expanded its’ postseason to include seven teams from each conference. The math says 44 percent of teams make the playoffs on each side (16 teams per conference). So in other words the Jets have to be a little better than average?
Postseason Turnover Rate
In any given year the NFL playoffs feature around a 50 percent turnover rate with its teams. Which is to say there are around six new teams making the playoffs every year and that number will inevitably increase with the expansion of the postseason.
Easier Schedule Next Season
By virtue of their terrible record in 2020 (2-14), the Jets are set to play a last-place schedule in 2021. That’s great news for the green and white who will be playing one of the easiest schedules in the NFL next season.
Per Mike Clay of ESPN, the Jets will have the fourth easiest strength of schedule based on the current rosters.
2021 NFL strength of schedule based on current rosters.
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) May 4, 2021
The New York Jets entered this offseason with the second-most cap space in the NFL and they were armed with 10 selections in the 2021 NFL draft.
With all of the new talent they have added to the roster, the strength of schedule, playoff expansion, the turnover rate in the postseason, and the long track record of success for first-year head coaches. The Jets are in a prime position to end their playoff drought and that should be the expectation for 2021.