Best and worst case scenario for 2022

Welcome to FanSided’s 2022 NFL preview! It’s time to look into our crystal football and take a glimpse at the New York Jets season prediction.

The New York Jets are coming off a 4-13 season in which the team experienced its fair share of growing pains. With such a young roster, the Jets were never expected to compete in 2021, but it’s safe to say that the team fell slightly short of expectations.

Injuries decimated whatever depth the roster had and an underwhelming rookie campaign from quarterback Zach Wilson ultimately ruined any hopes of a surprise campaign.

Going into 2022, however, the hope is that Wilson and the Jets can take a step toward being a competitive football team. The roster is much-improved and many see the Jets as a dark-horse team to succeed this season.

That said, they’ll have to prove themselves on the field first.

New York Jets 2021 season in review

  • 4-13 record
  • 4th place in AFC East
  • Didn’t Qualify for Playoffs

Few were expecting the Jets to compete for a playoff spot in 2021. With a rookie quarterback and a new coaching staff, the Jets were very much in evaluation mode last season.

A 4-13 record shouldn’t necessarily have been surprising, although it was a bit disappointing. Injuries took their toll on a Jets roster that didn’t have the luxury of depth heading into the year.

On top of that, Zach Wilson’s lackluster rookie season left the Jets with shaky quarterback play for much of the season. The defense also significantly underwhelmed, in part due to a slew of injuries to the likes of Carl Lawson and others.

It was a disappointing season for Gang Green, but there are reasons to believe the future is still bright.

New York Jets NFL Draft class 2022

  • Rd 1: Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
  • Rd 1: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
  • Rd 1: Jermaine Johnson, DE, Florida State
  • Rd 2: Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
  • Rd 3: Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State
  • Rd 4: Max Mitchell, OT, Louisiana
  • Rd 4: Micheal Clemons, DE, Texas A&M

The Jets were dubbed one of the biggest winners of the 2022 NFL Draft after they landed four instant-impact players in the top 40. On paper, this was a masterclass by general manager Joe Douglas.

Sauce Gardner is expected to immediately step in as a starter on defense with the potential to become one of the league’s best cornerbacks before long. Garrett Wilson will play a sizable role early on in the offense and he provides Zach Wilson with another weapon at his disposal.

The decision to trade up and land Johnson was applauded by draft pundits as one of the best moves of the class. Johnson, a near-universal top-10 prospect, fell all the way to pick 26 where the Jets were able to scoop him up.

To round out their top-40 haul, the Jets moved up in the second round to select running back Breece Hall, a player many believed to be the best running back in the draft.

The Jets completed their class with the mid-round selections of Long Island native Jeremy Ruckert, developmental swing tackle Max Mitchell, and rotational edge rusher Micheal Clemons.

It’s hard not to be excited about the Jets’ draft haul this year.

Previewing New York Jets offense for 2022 season

  • Key offseason additions
    • Breece Hall, RB
    • Garrett Wilson, WR
    • Tyler Conklin, TE
    • C.J. Uzomah, TE
    • Duane Brown, OT
    • Laken Tomlinson, OG
  • Biggest X-Factor: Elijah Moore
  • Squeakiest Wheel: Zach Wilson

The Jets have assembled their most promising offensive core in years over the last two offseasons. A young core featuring the likes of Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, Garrett Wilson, Breece Hall, Michael Carter, and Tyler Conklin has the potential to be something special.

However, the success of the Jets’ offense will come down to the performance of Zach Wilson. If Wilson takes the step the Jets hope he will, the offense should follow suit. If he struggles again, the rest of the offense will likely struggle as well.

An improved offensive line complete with the arrival of Laken Tomlinson should help matters, as should the additions of players like Hall, Wilson, Conklin, and C.J. Uzomah. Ultimately, though, it all comes down to Wilson.

Wilson’s development would certainly be aided by a breakout season from Elijah Moore. For a six-week stretch in 2021, Moore was statistically one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. If he can take that next step toward superstardom in 2022, the Jets might have their first true WR1 in years.

Right now, the weakest link on the unit is probably Wilson, although that’s certainly something the Jets hope changes before the end of the year. The success of the offense hinges on Wilson’s development.

Previewing New York Jets defense for 2022 season

  • Key offseason additions
    • Jermaine Johnson, CB
    • Sauce Gardner, CB
    • D.J. Reed, CB
    • Jordan Whitehead, S
  • Biggest X-Factor: Carl Lawson,
  • Squeakiest Wheel: Lamarcus Joyner, S

The Jets are looking to see a much-improved defensive unit in 2022 after injuries decimated the team last year. The return of Carl Lawson should help matters, as should the changes the Jets made to their secondary.

Lawson’s return will hopefully reignite the Jets’ pass rush and make it the strength of the defense. Meanwhile, the additions of Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed, and Jordan Whitehead should bolster a secondary that struggled mightily in 2021.

Ultimately, the X-Factor of the entire defense could be Lawson. The former Auburn standout was the star of training camp last summer before his devastating Achilles injury cut his first season in New York short.

Pairing a returning Lawson with the likes of Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers, Jermaine Johnson, and an ultra-deep defensive end group could give Robert Saleh the defensive line he’s wanted since joining the organization.

As far as weaknesses are concerned, I went with safety Lamarcus Joyner. This could have easily been the linebacker position, but Joyner returns as a starter having missed all of last season.

On top of that, the former Los Angeles Rams standout hasn’t put together an actual “good” season since 2018 when he was still playing safety for the Rams. It’s hard to know what to expect from him this season.

New York Jets coaching staff overview

  • Head Coach: Robert Saleh
  • Off. Coordinator: Mike LaFleur
  • Def. Coordinator: Jeff Ulbrich
  • 2023 Head Coach Candidate: Mike LaFleur

The Jets will return pretty much the exact same staff that they deployed last year. It’ll be the second season under the guidance of Robert Saleh who returns Mike LaFleur and Jeff Ulbrich as his hand-selected coordinators.

Ulbrich will be under the most pressure as he’ll be tasked with improving a defensive unit that disappointed last season. With an improved roster, Ulbrich can’t afford another abysmal year from the defense.

Mike LaFleur is the coach to watch out for here. LaFleur improved significantly as a play-caller as the season went on and was able to get legitimately good play out of four different quarterbacks throughout the year. That’s nothing short of remarkable.

If Zach Wilson takes a step and the Jets’ offense makes major strides in 2022, it wouldn’t be a surprise to hear LaFleur’s name mentioned as a potential head coach candidate in the future.

New York Jets Awards Watch

The most likely awards Jets players will be in the running for will relate to their star-studded rookie class. The likes of Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson, and Breece Hall could realistically compete for Rookie of the Year if all goes according to plan.

Zach Wilson, MVP

It’s hard to imagine any player on the Jets’ roster competing for the MVP award this season, but if anyone’s going to do it, it’s going to be Zach Wilson. That’s mostly because it’s nearly impossible to win the award if you’re not a quarterback.

It would take a historic jump in play for Wilson to even be considered for the award, but anything is possible. He has the offensive line and weapons at his disposal. Improvement should be expected, maybe not this much improvement, however.

Breece Hall, Offensive Rookie of the Year

Breece Hall has a very legitimate chance to win Offensive Rookie of the Year this season. In a year where rookie quarterbacks won’t necessarily be at the forefront of the discussion, Hall has as good of a chance to win the award as anyone.

He will be splitting touches with Michael Carter, but provided Hall maximizes his opportunities and lives up to expectations, he should absolutely be able to make a run at the award.

Hall gets the nod over Garrett Wilson simply because he will likely have a larger role in the offense early on.

Carl Lawson, Comeback Player of the Year

Don’t sleep on Carl Lawson pushing for Comeback Player of the Year consideration if he picks up where he left off last summer. If Lawson puts together a 12+ sack season, it’s very easy to imagine a world where he’s in the Comeback Player of the Year picture.

Recovering from a torn Achilles is no joke. If Lawson stays healthy in 2022 and finishes with a career year, he’ll definitely receive some consideration for the award.

Biggest game on New York Jets schedule in 2022

The Jets need to start winning divisional games. More specifically, they need to start winning divisional games at home against their biggest rivals. That’s why I’m keeping an eye on their Week 8 matchup with the New England Patriots.

The Jets have lost 12 straight against the Patriots, dating back to the 2015 season. They haven’t beaten New England in regulation in over a decade. That needs to change in 2022.

This Patriots team is a shell of their former selves and, on paper, has less overall talent than the Jets. There’s no excuse for another winless divisional stretch for Gang Green this season.

It’s time the Jets beat the Patriots again.

New York Jets season prediction: Best case scenario

The Jets aren’t going to compete for a Super Bowl title in 2022, at least not in any realistic scenario. That said, if everything goes their way, they absolutely could push for a playoff spot, even in a stacked AFC.

That would require Zach Wilson to take a significant step toward being the player the Jets believe he can be. I’m talking Wilson finishes as a top-15 quarterback while the rest of the roster both stays healthy and lives up to expectations.

Elijah Moore breaks out as a true WR1. Breece Hall finishes as a top-10 running back in the NFL. The Jets’ defense shows significant improvement after a sluggish 2021.

If all of that happens, the Jets could absolutely finish with, say, a 10-7 record and push for a wild card spot. It may not be likely, but it’s definitely within the realm of possibility.

New York Jets season prediction: Worst-case scenario

A disastrous outcome for the Jets would see Zach Wilson totally flop, forcing the team to reconsider the future of their quarterback position. It’s very likely their record would suffer as a result.

Wilson’s failures would negatively impact the development of all the young pieces around Wilson including Moore, Hall, Garrett Wilson, and others.

Meanwhile, the defense could fall well short of expectations again leading to Jeff Ulbrich — and possibly even Robert Saleh — getting fired.

Let’s call it a 3-14 season. That’s probably about where the Jets could bottom out in 2022 if everything goes wrong.

New York Jets season prediction for 2022

  • 6-11 record
  • 4th place in AFC East
  • Playoff Prediction: Miss playoffs

Some Jets fans may scoff at this record prediction, but perhaps I’m just a bit more pessimistic than others about the team’s current standing. This Jets roster is good. It’s good enough to be competitive in nearly every game the team plays this season.

However, the giant question mark at the quarterback position is what prevents me from slotting them in with a better record. We just don’t know what Zach Wilson is going to be. We don’t know how he will play in 2022.

The improved supporting cast should lead to improved performance, but how much of an improvement will we see? Wilson was legitimately a bottom-three starting quarterback in the NFL last season. He’ll need to take a sizable leap forward for the Jets to approach the 7-9 win range.

For now, I think a six-win season is a fair estimation. Until Wilson starts to show improvement on the field, I can’t give them anything more.

Read more from FanSided’s 2022 NFL Preview here. For more New York Jets coverage, check out The Jet Press. 

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