The Jets have been rebuilding for years.
Now it’s time to win. Or, to at least start winning.
There is rare optimism in the fanbase after plenty of success in free agency and during the NFL draft. But will it translate to results? Here are a few thoughts on the Jets as they prepare to wrap up the offseason program with their minicamp this week in Florham Park.
Honeymoon is over for Robert Saleh and Zach Wilson. The young head coach-quarterback duo must win games in 2022. Bottom line. While criticism was warranted last year, either individual still got a pass. With a rookie head coach and rookie quarterback, it was tough to believe the Jets were going to show any semblance of a playoff team. But Year 2 is a different story. The roster is better, Saleh has experience under his belt and Wilson has weapons all around him. It’s time to step up.
Short leash for Mekhi Becton. With weight-related concerns, a knee injury that caused him to miss 16 games last year and the solid left tackle play of George Fant in 2021, Becton may be on the hot seat. The Jets have said all the right things, but the 2020 first-round tackle doesn’t have his name etched in stone for the starting left tackle role whatsoever. If Becton doesn’t stay on the field and prove he was worth a No. 11 overall pick, it will further prove Joe Douglas’ 2020 draft was a colossal failure.
Saleh’s 49ers defensive front, Part 2? Needless to say, the Jets employ a superb number of bodies to rush the quarterback. Carl Lawson is returning from injury and figures to be the team’s most productive asset in that area of the field. The team additionally added Jermaine Johnson late in the first round — Douglas and company were blessed to have the Florida State standout land in their lap after trading back into the opening round.
Combine those two with Quinnen Williams and John Franklin-Myers (who could move inside on passing downs), and you have a pass rush that should be able to take pressure off a secondary filled with various new faces (Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed, Jordan Whitehead, etc.).
Potential cuts. Receiver Denzel Mims is not a lock to make the final roster by any stretch of the imagination. Since drafting him in 2020, the Jets have signed Corey Davis, drafted Elijah Moore, drafted Garrett Wilson, and re-signed Braxton Berrios. Each move has pushed Mims further down the depth chart, and it’s not like his inconsistencies with both production and health haven’t already done that.
I wouldn’t expect running back La’Mical Perine to be a lock either for partly the same reason: the number of moves made at that position after Perine’s 2020 draft selection. The Jets drafted Michael Carter in last year’s fourth round before trading up to take Breece Hall in this year’s second round. Expect Carter and Hall to be the lead dogs in a backfield that may not include Perine by Week 1.