There isn't a phrase in New York sports as loaded as "Same Old Jets." It may only be three short words, but their meaning covers 40 years and myriad disappointments, disasters and depressions.
Running them down would take more time than we've got available, but it should be enough to simply say that the Jets don't have a long history of getting the breaks.
They got them on Sunday, of course, and, thanks to the Bengals' secure playoff position and a potential first-round rematch, they seem to have a few more coming their way this week. The whole situation was unthinkable on Christmas Day, but now that it has come to pass there's a lot more on the line than just a Wild Card spot.
If the Jets win on Sunday night, they'll have struck a terrific blow to the notion of the Same Old Jets, a notion that Rex Ryan scoffed at in the weeks before his team gave away so many games that he thought they had no chance of advancing to the postseason. Win this game, though, and the Jets go from a team that shoots itself in the foot to one that takes advantage of their good fortune. That may seem like a lot to read into one victory against a team with nothing to play for but, again, you've got to respect the history.
Ryan should know the story well, since his father Buddy plays a big role. In 1993, the Jets had an 8-7 record and faced a win and you're in playoff game against the Houston Oilers. The Oilers had already clinched a playoff spot and had nothing on the line, which didn't stop Buddy Ryan, then Houston's defensive coordinator, from decking offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, now with the Giants, on the sideline during the game. If a brawling coaching staff wasn't enough of an advantag, the Oilers were also playing Commander Cody Carlson at quarterback so Warren Moon could rest up for the playoffs. Everything was coming up Jets, in other words.
The Jets lost that game 24-0 and didn't go to the playoffs again until 1998. In almost any other franchise that would be an epic low point, but it's just another footnote in the big book of Jets failure. That won't be the case if the Jets flop this weekend and start a new year and a new decade with the same damning label hung around their neck for the world to see.
One win won't erase 40 years of miseries. It will give hope that a new year, a new decade, a new quarterback and a new coach can combine to create a new label, though. That doesn't seem like too much to ask.