The contracts of wide receivers coach Henry Ellard, outside linebackers coach Jeff Weeks and assistant head coach/offensive line coach Bill Callahan expired after the conclusion of the 2011 season and subsequently the men were not retained. Ellard and Callahan, when offered contract extensions prior to the expiration of their contracts, refused to re-sign.
Mike Smith was promoted from his position as a defensive intern to the outside linebackers coach, replacing Jeff Weeks.
The Jets erupted to a 21–0 lead in the second quarter following two Mark Sanchez touchdown throws and a Jeremy Kerley punt return score. Following Antonio Cromartie's interception return score and Sanchez' third touchdown (to Stephen Hill), Ryan Fitzpatrick, despite three interceptions, erupted to three consecutive touchdowns, but the Jets put the game away in a fourth quarter drive ending in a one-yard Shonn Greene touchdown run.
Tim Tebow, acquired from the Broncos amid heavy publicity about his presence with the Jets and the team's plans on how to utilize him, rushed five times for just eleven yards.
With their 6th straight win over the Bills, the Jets began their season 1–0.
The Jets traveled to Heinz Field for a rematch of the 2010 AFC Championship game against the Steelers. The Jets limited the Steelers to just 68 rushing yards but Ben Roethlisberger tossed for 275 yards and two touchdowns. With the loss, the Jets fell to 1–1.
After their Week 3 road win over their division rival Dolphins, the Jets headed home to face their first NFC Opponent of the season, the 49ers. However, the Jets struggled in this game being shut out at home 34–0 by the 49ers. This was the first time since 2010 that the team has been shut out at home since the Packers shut them out 9–0 that year. With the huge shutout loss, the Jets fell to 2–2.
The Jets stayed home for a game against the red-hot undefeated 4–0 Texans. This game would mark the first time ever that the Jets have lost to the Texans, and as a result New York dropped to 2–3 on the season.
The Jets faced Colts rookie sensation Andrew Luck; they sacked him four times and intercepted him twice. Shonn Greene and Joe McKnight combined to rush for 232 yards and three Greene touchdowns. Mark Sanchez threw for just 82 yards but had two touchdowns, while Tim Tebow had one throw for 23 yards but was limited to seven rushing yards.
The huge win was the Jets' first win over the Colts without Peyton Manning since 1997. They improved to 3–3 and a four-way tie in the AFC East.
Despite losing rookie sensation Ryan Tannehill for the game after a first-quarter sack, the Dolphins raced to a 30–9 win, their fourth road win in the rivalry in their last five trips to New Jersey. The Dolphins scored on a blocked goalline punt, then added touchdowns by Daniel Thomas and a short toss from Matt Moore to Anthony Fasano. Sanchez managed a late touchdown to Chaz Schilens but the two-point throw to Dustin Keller failed.
The Jets posted their sixth win in their last seven meetings against Jeff Fisher. They picked off Sam Bradford once and forced two Rams fumbles. The two teams combined for just 570 yards of offense. The Jets improved to 4–6 while the Rams fell to 3–6–1.
The Jets were thoroughly dominated by the Patriots; they scored five touchdowns in the second quarter, three of them in a span of 52 seconds of game clock. The first came on an 83-yard pass to Shane Vereen after the Patriots recovered a Shonn Greene fumble. On the Jets' ensuing drive, Mark Sanchez fumbled after running into lineman Brandon Moore and Steve Gregory ran back a 32-yard score. The play later became known as the "butt fumble". The third touchdown came on the ensuing kickoff, Devin McCourty forced Joe McKnight to fumble, which Julian Edelman recovered and returned for a third touchdown (he later caught a 56-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady).
With the huge loss, the Jets fell to 4–7, and were swept by Bill Belichick's Patriots for the sixth time.
The Jets improved to 6–7 and stayed alive in the playoff race after twice intercepting Chad Henne, who'd replaced faltering sophomore Blaine Gabbert four weeks earlier. The Jets had 166 rushing yards and two scores, limiting Mark Sanchez to just nineteen throws for 111 yards.
Chris Johnson ran in a 94-yard touchdown while following a Jeff Cumberland touchdown catch for the Jets Jake Locker ran in a 13-yard score. Mark Sanchez threw four interceptions yet a short Titans punt gave the Jets the ball inside the Titans 25 in the final minute. The Jets blew the snap and the Titans fell on the ball, ending the game.
With the loss, the Jets not only fell to 6–8, but got mathematically eliminated from postseason contention for the second straight season.
Tim Tebow entered the game for the first time since Week 10 and made what turned out to be his final plays with the Jets, missing on his only pass while rushing three times for fifteen yards.
Following the loss to the Titans Rex Ryan announced that Greg McElroy would start for the Jets against the Chargers. Following a 63-yard Michael Spurlock punt return touchdown McElroy led back to back scoring drives ending in 1-yard Shonn Greene touchdowns. The Chargers took over the game in the third quarter with two Philip Rivers touchdowns and a Nick Novak field goal while McElroy was intercepted once and strip-sacked once.
With the loss, the Jets fell to 6–9, their first losing season since 2007.
The Jets' plan to start Greg McElroy was changed due to a concussion he'd suffered. As a result Mark Sanchez started and managed 205 passing yards but was intercepted by Bryan Scott in the first quarter for the Bills' first touchdown of the game. The Jets led 9–7 in the second quarter before the Bills scored three unanswered touchdowns, including one from ex-Jet Brad Smith. Tim Tebow suited up for the game but was never used. It was the first win for the Bills in the rivalry since 2009.