Jets Season Recap

The New York Jets finished this season at a modest 7-10, higher than they were projected to finish with five wins this season. However, many Jets fans were disappointed with the outcome of this season, considering Gang Green was on the verge of making the postseason.

The entirety of the Jets’ season was not the normal doom and gloom Jets fans know so well. The Jets’ defense had an abysmal season in 2021. They finished in the bottom five teams in almost every major defensive category and lacked a high-caliber offense to pick up the slack. However, Defensive Coordinator Jeff Ulbrich and his squadron had a complete turnaround. After finishing 32nd in points, yards, and first downs allowed in 2021, the 2022 Jets finished fourth, fourth, and third in these categories, respectively. This was a complete polarization to what they showed last season, which is something the Jets need if they want to be successful in the a conference with several teams with high powered offenses such as the Bills, Chiefs, Bengals, and Chargers.

This turnaround, however, would not have been possible without the next reason for Jets fans’ optimism: their new players, specifically the ones drafted after the 2021 season. Keeping things on the defensive side of the ball, the Jets selected cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner with the fourth overall pick, and Jets fans have a lot to look forward to with Gardner. He statistically had one of the best, if not the best, season out of all cornerbacks this year, rookie or veteran. While the modest two interceptions may be deceiving, Sauce had a league-leading 20 passes broken up (PBUs). Many of these PBUs came in high-stakes situations against high profile receivers, such as the game-sealing incompletion against Buffalo, where Gardner stayed step for step with Gabe Davis almost 70 yards downfield. Gardner was voted into Pro-Bowl, and was an AP First-Team All-Pro, two of the highest accolades any player can receive. Not to mention he also won Defensive Rookie of the Year. The Jets also traded up on draft night to select DE Jermaine Johnson II with the twenty-sixth pick. While he battled injuries for a part of this season, he made an impact while he was on the field. His highlight of the season also came while playing against the Bills, when he chased Josh Allen, one of the league’s elite running quarterbacks, out of the pocket and caught him for a sack.

Switching to the offensive side of the ball, many people were shocked when the Jets decided to spend their second- round pick on running back Breece Hall. However, critics of the pick were quickly silenced, as Hall soon inserted himself into the Offensive Rookie of the Year conversation. However, Hall tore his ACL in the Jets’ week-7 matchup against the Broncos, which sidelined him for the season. Fortunately for Jets fans, he has shown remarkable progress in his recovery and is expected to be able to participate in most of the Jets’ offseason workouts. One draft pick that was not a surprise to many, however, was the Jets’ second pick, the tenth overall, wide receiver Garrett Wilson. Despite playing for a struggling Zach Wilson, an aging Joe Flacco, and fifth round backup Mike White, Garret Wilson managed to tally 1,103 yards, the most by any Jet rookie in franchise history, earning him the title of Offensive Rookie of the Year.

On paper, the Jets have the appearance of a playoff team, with a talented and young receiving core, a lockdown and disciplined defense, and a fiery coaching staff that wants to win. However, there has been one major factor holding the Jets back from achieving their true potential: quarterback play. Zach Wilson has seemed to regress from his rookie season, and while the Jets started 5-1 with Wilson at QB, the offensive struggles were prevalent. After an atrocious outing in a crucial division matchup against the New England Patriots in week 11, Wilson was benched for backup Mike White, who torched the Bears defense the next week. The Jets’ mood also seemed to shift with the benching of Zach Wilson. Players, especially wide receivers, seemed to be much happier after the Jets’ week 12 blowout of the Bears with Mike White leading them. White played well the following week against the Vikings, but the Jets came just short of victory in Minnesota. It seemed the Jets had a complicated QB situation on their hands, with an underperforming sophomore in Zach Wilson and a morale-boosting, hard-working veteran in Mike White. Things only got more complicated when White suffered a rib injury against the Bills, putting Zach Wilson back into the starting lineup. Wilson was forced back into action against the Lions’ defense, which was statistically the worst in the NFL at this point. Wilson didn’t play terribly, but he had a few key mistakes, including a momentum-killing interception in the third quarter. He eventually bounced back to throw a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end CJ Uzomah in the fourth quarter, but it wouldn’t be enough as the Jets were stunned by the Lions, 20-17. Despite having three games left in the season after the matchup against Detroit, the one-yard pass to Uzomah ended up being the final touchdown of the Jets season, as the entire offensive scheme seemed to implode in the final three weeks of the season. After starting 5-2, the Jets finished 7-10, missing the postseason and extending their postseason drought, which is currently the longest in the NFL.

The Jets have already started to revamp their offense, bringing in several new faces, most notably Nathaniel Hackett as offensive coordinator. Hackett saw limited success last year with the Broncos but was known to be successful in years prior, especially with the Green Bay Packers. This success came with future Hall-of-Famer Aaron Rodgers as quarterback, who has been seen as the primary target for the Jets to pursue this offseason. Jets owner Woody Johnson has made it clear that he would be willing to pay a veteran like Rodgers to quarterback the Jets in 2023, and hiring Hackett was perceived to be the Jets’ way of persuading Rodgers to play for them next year.

Only time will tell what the future of the Jets will look like. This roster is filled to the brim with young, talented players, and with the high likeliness of a veteran quarterback joining the team next year, it will be intriguing to see how Gang Green handles its off-season as it shifts its status from “rebuilding” to “win now.”