By Jason Keidel
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So with the Jets a mess in general, and a troubling variable at quarterback in particular, you may be wondering how they will score points this season.
Indeed, a few folks have wondered aloud whether Gang Green will challenge the 1992 Seattle Seahawks as the worst offense in modern NFL history, which we will define as the Super Bowl era. The ’92 Seahawks juggernaut, coached by two-time Super Bowl champion Tom Flores, scored a biblically anemic 140 points.
Let’s take a look at that club, which finished the season 2-14, a mark the Jets are widely expected to challenge. During a five-game midseason stretch, the Seahawks scored 16 total points, an average barely over three points per game, including two shutouts and two games in which they scored one field goal. The Jets scored 13 or fewer points six times last year, including an eyesore of a 9-6 loss, to the Los Angeles Rams, and are certainly worse this year.
Much like the Jets of 2017, the Seahawks had quarterbacks of little (if any) note. Seattle’s cast of Canton contestants included Stan Gelbaugh, Kelly Stouffer, and Dan McGwire. Only the hardest of hardcore NFL fans have any idea who they are. (And if MLB fans are wondering, yes, Dan McGwire is Mark’s brother.)
Punter Rick Tuten also tossed a pass, but the other three threw a combined nine touchdowns and 23 interceptions, on just 145.2 yards per game. Tuten, by the way, also punted 108 times that season, or 6.75 times per game. The Jets’ Lac Edwards figures to be an equally busy man.
The Seahawks’ aggregate passer rating was 48.9. Not QBR, which affords much lower numbers, but passer rating, which never plummets below 50. Even Ryan Fitzpatrick, who had an abysmal season last year, had a passer rating just under 70.
Gelbaugh started eight games, Stouffer seven, and McGwire one. Would it shock anyone if the Jets had some similar QB by committee in 2017? Josh McCown is the presumed starter, but either injury or poor performance could force Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty to start a few games under center.
Where you hope the 2017 Jets are tangibly better is running the ball. The ’92 Seahawks scored four rushing touchdowns all season. (It feels wrong just typing that.) Their “stalwart” running back was Chris Warren, who had a decent year, with 1,1017 yards on 223 carries (4.6 yards per carry), with three TDs. Only fullback John Williams scored another rushing TD, and just one.
The Jets have Bilal Powell, who may not be Le’Veon Bell, but is a legitimate NFL starter. And Matt Forte was a bona fide star for seven years, part of the new wave of hybrid backs who were equally potent running and catching the ball. At 32, Forte is expected to be more of a role player, someone to spell Powell, but just on resume alone the Jets’ RBs are exponentially better than that dearth of decent rushers the ’92 Seahawks had.
Even still, the Jets scored a paltry 10 touchdowns on the ground last season. Arizona Cardinals star David Johnson scored twice as many all by himself, including 16 on the ground. But while the Jets entered 2016 with grand hopes based on a productive 2015 — when Fitzpatrick had the best year of his career, and tossed the rock all over the gridiron to Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker — there are no such illusions this year.
All the Jets have to do is score 10 points per game to reach 160 and avoid the ignominy of any comparisons to the 1992 Seahawks. But just as you wonder where the wins will pop up this year, so too do you fret about the points. Maybe the Jets can be a bit like the Yankees, and shock the world while in full rebuild, play way past the back of their football cards, and even contend for a playoff spot.
Hey, I tried. More likely, the Jets will be out of the playoff hunt by Halloween. You just hope they dress and play like an authentic NFL club. And score enough points to keep themselves out of the conversation of the worst offenses in league history.
Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel