Being thankful as a Jets fan is tough right now. It doesn’t hurt to try, though…
Not many New York Jets fans had high hopes for a successful 2021 season. Instead, they longed for progress over the course of time from such a young roster led by a rookie quarterback.
But ahead of Week 12, that progress hasn’t exactly presented itself. The Jets sport the worst defense in the league and Zach Wilson hasn’t played since Week 7 due to a PCL sprain.
As a result, the team is 2-8 and has lost three straight games with Thanksgiving arriving.
Not everything can be described as disastrous though — there are actually a few things the Jets and their fans could be thankful for when looking at the big picture.
The upcoming surplus of draft picks
Jets GM Joe Douglas has made a number of moves to improve the team’s options at the 2022 NFL Draft.
Reminder: the Jets have two first-rounders this year, one of which is courtesy the 2020 trade of safety Jamal Adams to Seattle.
If the season were to end today, the Jets would own the No. 2 overall pick (their selection) and the No. 6 overall (the Seahawks’ pick).
They also own two second-round picks; the second being from the Panthers via the 2021 Sam Darnold trade. The Jets also have two fourth-round picks, one from Carolina (Darnold again) and one from Minnesota via the Chris Herndon trade.
This season is looking to be a wash, but due to the young roster and collection of draft resources next year, the organization could be in prime position to rebuild.
And speaking of the young roster…
The promising 2021 rookie class
Say what you want about Zach Wilson. I understand he’s had a turnover issue and health has been a negative factor (he’s missed four consecutive games).
But he’s not the only first-year player you could potentially be excited about.
The Jets employ a promising rookie class on the offensive side of the ball led by Wilson, running back Michael Carter, offensive guard Alijah Vera-Tucker, and wide receiver Elijah Moore.
Vera-Tucker, Carter, and Moore have all solidified themselves as one of the top young performers at their respective positions. The latter-most individual just racked up 141 receiving yards against Miami this past Sunday, the most from a Jets rookie since 1990 (Rob Moore earned 175 yards through the air in a game against the Patriots that year).
Not to mention, defensive back Michael Carter II is really coming into his own. The rookie out of Duke has assumed a significant role on the defensive end and is currently third on the team with 48 combined tackles.
The Mike White game
Regardless of whatever happens with the Jets in the near or long-term future, fans will always have the Mike White game to gloat over.
The primary Jets backup quarterback notched his inaugural NFL start in Week 8 after Wilson went down with a PCL sprain the week prior.
Against all odds, White outplayed a tough Bengals team and threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns on 37-of-45 passing en route to a humongous home victory.
It was the most completions recorded by someone in their first-ever NFL start. White was also only the second quarterback since 1950 (Cam Newton being the first) to throw for 400+ yards in their inaugural start. For that, White’s jersey and the game ball were placed in the Pro Football Today Gallery at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The performance sparked a number of discussions, such as: “Should the Jets roll with White instead of Wilson?” “Will Wilson earn the Wally Pipp treatment?”
You would’ve thought White was Joe Montana the way fans were treating him.
Of course, it only took a few weeks for Mike to come back down to earth. He subsequently threw four picks against a talented Bills defense in Week 10.
Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY