Coming off a disappointing 4-13 season, the New York Jets are entering a critical 2022 campaign. General Manager Joe Douglas ensured his Jets experienced one of the most aggressive offseasons of any team in the NFL by acquiring an abundance of talent via the NFL draft and free agency. As a result, Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley is expecting his squad to qualify for the postseason this coming season.
While those expectations should be considered a bit too lofty for Jets faithful, Mosley’s wishes are clear via recent comments.
“I’m really expecting playoffs or bust,” Mosley recently said. “Obviously, that’s my goal every year, but I think it’s something that’s a realistic goal for our entire team and our coaches,” Mosley concluded.
The Jets haven’t made the playoffs since 2010. It represents the longest postseason drought in the NFL. Although Mosley’s personal goal should include qualifying for the playoffs, the Jets remain a team in transition. Douglas and Head Coach Robert Saleh should rightfully expect improvement in 2022, even if it doesn’t result in a postseason appearance. The Jets’ improvement should include passing the eye test while capturing more regular-season victories than they did a year ago. There’s a clear pathway to improvement for the Jets that doesn’t necessarily involve the playoffs.
Analyzing the 2022 Jets begins (and arguably ends) with sophomore quarterback Zach Wilson. The No. 2 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, Wilson didn’t experience a particularly fruitful rookie campaign. The BYU product completed just 55.6% of his passing attempts while throwing for more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (nine). Wilson also suffered a midseason knee injury and was limited to just 13 regular-season appearances. The Jets hope Wilson is ready to take the year two leap quarterbacks are often expected to make.
For his part, Douglas has considerably upgraded the situation around Wilson by essentially revamping the majority of the infrastructure that aids or hinders a quarterback. Douglas used a premium first-round draft selection on former Ohio State standout Garrett Wilson, who should allow the Jets to run three-receiver sets with more frequency alongside Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, and Braxton Berrios. The Jets’ rushing attack should receive a much-needed boost in the form of Breece Hall, who Douglas drafted in the second round. A tight end room that was arguably the least productive in the league last season has been completely retooled with the additions of Tyler Conklin, C.J. Uzomah, and Jeremy Ruckert. And finally, Douglas added a quality starter to his offensive line in the form of the high-priced Laken Tomlinson, who’s an ideal fit for Mike LaFleur’s zone-based running scheme. Tomlinson adds some much-needed experience to a young offensive line that could be considerably better in 2022. Douglas has essentially removed all excuses for Wilson going forward.
All these offensive additions don’t mean Douglas neglected the defense, either. Douglas actually used two of his three first-round selections on the defensive side of the ball. Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner should provide Saleh with the type of shutdown boundary cornerback the Jets desperately lacked a year ago. Pairing Gardner with free-agent signing D.J. Reed should allow Saleh’s Jets to play more of his preferred man-coverage looks than they did in 2021. Last season’s less-than-desirable secondary received another reinforcement via Super Bowl-winning safety Jordan Whitehead. Stud first-round pass rusher Jermaine Johnson II should form a dangerous one-two punch alongside the returning Carl Lawson. The Johnson-Lawson duo has the potential to put opposing quarterbacks on notice.
The Jets have a much more talented roster and they should compete to win somewhere between seven and nine contests. It would represent a noticeable improvement, which matters considerably when analyzing the franchise going forward.
The Buffalo Bills are strong favorites to capture their third consecutive AFC East division title. The Jets would most likely need to make the postseason as a wild-card team while competing against additional inner-division rivals that include the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. Claiming a wild-card spot in a much-improved AFC ultimately represents too difficult a task.