The New York Jets upgraded on paper this offseason. Of course, games are played on the field, but we can only prognosticate at the moment.
Either directly or indirectly, everything the Jets did was to help Zach Wilson. The young quarterback was injured in last month’s preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles but is expected to miss minimal — if any — time in the regular season. While Wilson is out following a successful arthroscopic knee surgery, Joe Flacco is expected to start in his place.
Many recent young Jets quarterbacks have lacked a quality supporting cast. That should not be true of Wilson. The offseason addition of offensive guard Laken Tomlinson from the San Francisco 49ers (and emergency signing of Duane Brown after Mekhi Becton’s injury) should give Wilson a quality offensive line when he returns.
The Jets will likely lean into the run game to take the pressure off Wilson once he returns. The selection of Breece Hall could be a game changer. Hall has lofty expectations and big potential. He could be the rare difference-making back in this league. The Jets should use two tight end sets frequently, where the offseason additions of CJ Uzomah and Tyler Conklin will provide support.
Of course teams don't want to put their young quarterbacks in positions where they frequently need to put 30 points on the board to win.
The question as to whether Wilson will need to do that rests with a defense that was one of the worst in the league last year. Their level of improvement will either make Wilson’s job easier ... or harder.
The Jets focused on the premium positions defensively. The team hopes Sauce Gardner and DJ Reed at cornerback can lock up receivers and open up blitzing packages, especially on third down. Offseason additions Jacob Martin and Jermaine Johnson should carve out roles as pass rushers.
Run defense remains a question mark. The team did not take many steps to improve it this offseason. One of the few additions who should play a role is safety Jordan Whitehead.
The Jets overhauled their roster this offseason. In doing so, they spent the bulk of their resources for the next two years. How much better will the team be? There needs to be real improvement because the 2023 offseason will not present the team with the same opportunities to upgrade.
The Jets don’t need to make the playoffs to have a successful year. Despite all of the resources expended, there still will be a number of rookies playing key roles.
DraftKings Sportsbook predicts that the Jets will win 5.5 games this season, whereas AFC East rivals, the Buffalo Bills are favorites to win Super Bowl 57. However, I think a 7-10 record is doable for the Jets — and would set the team up for 2023 when the rookie class is entering year two and ready to make a giant leap.