Can the Jets be the surprising package of the next NFL season?

Admin - July 23, 2022

Considering that the New York Jets finished the 2021-22 season with a 4-13 record, the only way the team can go is up (so to speak). Tied for the third worst record in the entire NFL, only the Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars were worse off, the Jets' victories came against the Jags, Houston Texans, Cincinnati Bengals, and Tennessee Titans. With two of those teams, the Bengals and Titans, being playoff teams, the Jets showed their fans glimpses of hope for the future.

According to the NFL spreads, it may be far-fetched to think that the Jets have revamped their team and improved enough throughout the offseason to challenge the Super Bowl favorite Buffalo Bills and a New England Patriots team who has only missed the playoffs three times in the twenty-two-year Bill Belichick era. However, that does not mean that Robert Saleh’s team cannot improve to at least a winning record this season, something which has only happened twice in the past decade.

Adding four rookies who have the potential to be franchise players gives the Jets a young core of talent to build around and you can see their chances increasing slightly, as Bovada’s social media confirms.

Cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner was selected fourth overall and is expected to take over the starting role immediately while defensive end Jermaine Johnson II (selected 26th) will battle John Franklin-Myers for playing time.

Offensively, the Jets may have had the best haul in the draft, selecting receiver Garrett Wilson tenth, and running back Breece Hall thirty-sixth. Wilson will most likely start, seeing a healthy dose of targets from quarterback Zach Wilson, while Hall will split time with second-year running back Michael Carter. Tight end Jeremy Ruckert (101st), offensive tackle Max Mitchell (111th), and defensive end Michael Clemons (117th) round out an impressive Jets draft class.

What is new on the Jets roster?

One of the biggest questions heading into the 2022 season is how second-year quarterback Zach Wilson will perform after struggling as a rookie. Wilson’s numbers were far from impressive, finishing the season with a 69.7 QB rating, 11 turnovers, and 9 touchdowns in thirteen games. While his supporting cast was nothing to get excited about, Wilson’s inconsistent play needs to improve for the Jets to move up in the standings.

An improved offensive line should help Wilson take the next step, thanks to additions made to the team through free agent signings. Bringing in Pro Bowl left guard Laken Tomlinson gives the Jets a big-name pass-blocker who has not missed a game in the past four seasons and only once during his seven-year career. Tight end C.J. Uzomah joins the team after playing his first seven seasons in Cincinnati, a team that fell short of winning the Super Bowl last season.

Bringing his playoff experience, size, and speed, Uzomah will be a great fit for the Jets' offensive system. If the Jets run two tight ends, look for Tyler Conklin to provide solid blocking for his quarterback and another running and receiving option.

A new era for the Jets fans?

If the newcomers can mesh with the returning receiving crew of Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, and Braxton Berrios, the Jets will certainly improve from their dismal fifth-worst average of 18.2ppg last season.

With only four victories last season it comes as little surprise that the Jets ranked dead last in opponents' points per game with an average of 29.6. Not only did the Jets fill a void at cornerback with the selection of Ahmad Gardner but they also added former Seattle Seahawks CB D.J. Reed to play on the other side of the field, giving the team a potential double threat. Look for Jordan Whitehead, who signed as a free agent this offseason and Lamarcus Joyner to improve the New York secondary, another troubled area for the Jets for many years.

Putting heat on the opposing quarterback is something that the Jets struggled to do (among many things) last year, finishing third last in pressure rate. With the return of defensive end Carl Lawson from a season-long injury and the potential that Jermain Johnson has to be a breakout defensive star, the Jets will almost certainly see that 27th ranking improve this season.

Coming out of the gates, the Jets, who have the seventeenth toughest schedule this season, within their first ten games will be playing the Ravens, Browns, Bengals, Steelers, Dolphins, Packers, Broncos, Patriots, Bills, and a rematch with New England. Of those teams, only three had losing records and four made the playoffs (five if you include the rematch against the Pats).

The Jets could surprise many by going 3-2 to start the season, knocking off a Cleveland team in disarray, a Pittsburgh team with a new QB, and a nail-biter against Miami. Of their last seven games, victories over the Bears, Lions, Jaguars, Seahawks, and Dolphins are all feasible, giving the Jets an 8-9 record.

Many things have to go right for the Jets to double their win total from last season and post their best record since 2015, but GM Joe Douglas and Head Coach Robert Saleh seem to have the pieces in place for their team to be one of the surprise teams of the 2022 NFL season.