On the surface, the Jets took a step forward during the 2022 season. After all, they nearly doubled their season-long win total from four to seven. Oh, but what could’ve been? Going from 7-4 to 7-10 to finish the year (without scoring a touchdown in the past three games) is a tough pill to swallow.
If team owner Woody Johnson doesn’t clean house this offseason, the goal will be simple for New York in 2023. Make the playoffs or it could cost Robert Saleh, Joe Douglas, and Co. their jobs. Week 18 vs. the Miami Dolphins had just barely wrapped up, but cornerback Sauce Gardner was already making predictions about next year:
Sauce Gardner: “This time next year, we’ll be in the playoffs. For sure.” #Jets
— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) January 8, 2023
Judging from how things looked this year, that’s not necessarily an outrageous thing to say. Heading into Week 17, the Jets still mostly controlled their playoff destiny before losing to Geno Smith and the Seattle Seahawks. The defense looked elite at times, there are exciting weapons on offense, and New York might just end up with a veteran quarterback as the final piece of this puzzle.
In theory, it all sounds pretty simple. This young roster just gained a year of experience, and will hopefully take it to the playoffs next season. But for any team in the Jets’ position, we know it’s not just this simple. Those demons and ghosts of years past will continue to haunt them, regardless of how different the team currently is compared to the “Same Old Jets”.
The Mets know a thing or two about that. Maybe Saleh should give Buck Showalter a call. Things are a little worse for the Jets, though. It’s not just that New York is the owner of football’s longest postseason drought. It’s everything that comes with it. Check out this graphic that was shared during Gang Green’s matchup with Miami:
— Manny S. (@MMS0272) January 8, 2023
This is the unholy trifecta of things you’d never want to see from your favorite NFL team. However, these are the kinds of regular-season demons the Jets will have to get rid of to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Going through a complete culture change takes time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, ya know.
New York got a taste of that in the middle of the season. They not only had the playoffs in sight, but at 7-4, the squad was actually in a position to take over the AFC East division. That’s when everything started to unravel. This can serve as a valuable learning experience for a young roster like the Jets, though.
Maybe they’ll be in a similar position next year after half a season’s worth of games. And maybe then, we’ll see New York rise to the occasion instead of watching them tailspin out of contention. They got a taste of what those expectations could be like this past season, and they won’t be going away.
Saleh had preached early in the year about how this isn’t the “Same Old Jets” anymore. Many fans are still thinking that after what just transpired. Whether this is justified or not, it’s a narrative Gang Green will have to deal with until they can prove otherwise.