How High Should Our Expectations Be for the Jets?

The 2021-22 season was underwhelming for the Jets, to say the least. Fans were expecting more from the team, which is understandable given the drafting of Zach Wilson and a few key pick-ups such as Quinnen Williams and CJ Mosely, but with only 4 wins, there was much left to be desired. The underwhelming season is not solely due to one person or player, the entire team was not functioning at a high level for much of the season. With first time head coach Robert Saleh, who did a nice job in my opinion with the roster he had, as well as first time offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, the New York Jets needed time for people to become comfortable, which happened later in the season and the performances of the players showed the improvement.

Zach Wilson started the season off with a meager 4 touchdowns with 9 interceptions. He finished the season with 5 touchdowns to 2 interceptions, showing a significant improvement and confidence level to give fans hope of him being the quarterback the team has been looking for. Keeping Mike White and Joe Flacco on the team helps as well since White showed he could be a good backup in case Wilson is injured, and Flacco has the experience to mentor both quarterbacks and is a reliable backup for the team. Rookie Elijah Moore started the season off slow but showed vast improvement in the second half proving to be a valuable asset to the team: his receiving yards in the first half were 4.2 yards fewer than in the second half of the season. While the defense was historically bad in 2021, the key bright spots were CJ Mosely, with 168 total tackles, and Quinnen Williams with 101 total tackles. 

 With Robert Saleh and Mike LaFleur needing time to get comfortable with their new positions, it was understandable and even expected for the Jets to not do well for a good part of the season, although their win total was a bit higher than what they ended with. This season, I believe their win total is expected to be 6. Given how improved LaFleur became with the coordinator position, and the players they acquired in the draft, I think the expected win total is reasonable. I think the addition of Sauce Gardener, Garrett Wilson, Breece Hall, Jeremey Ruckert, Jermaine Johnson II, and the other players from the draft will vastly improve the team’s performance, especially if the chemistry between the rookies and veterans can form quickly during the offseason. Mike LaFLeur is a lot more comfortable and is starting to show his capabilities as offensive coordinator, which will help give the team better chances to win games. He has shown he is not afraid to make gutsy plays or trick plays when he thinks the team needs it in order to get a first down or to get closer to putting points on the board, and this will be needed if the team wants to win more than 4 games this season.

Given the improvement of the team as a whole as well as the individual players and coaches themselves, I personally would say the New York Jets could win 7 or 8 games instead of 6. However, this would be unwise as there are many factors that could hinder the success of the team, such as injuries or lack of improvement of rookies, to the chemistry of the team not being healthy. Chemistry is an important factor in team sports which is sometimes the biggest reason some teams do not do as well as they were predicted. Take the 2021-22 Los Angeles Lakers for example. The acquisition of Russell Westbrook was a big topic in the NBA and a lot of bettors and analysts had the Lakers as a possible team to make it out of the West. The Lakers ended up finishing 10th in the West and were a laughing stock, showing that the chemistry was never formed and Westbrook could not gel with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. If the Jets are to win at least 6 games, they need to make sure there is good chemistry in the locker room and on the field. If some teammates lack trust in each other, their performances will suffer as well as the team as a whole. The last thing the New York Jets and their fans want or need is for a digression of talent and performance to occur, resulting in another disappointing season. 

Given all of these factors and statistics, I would say, as a precaution measure, the expectations for the New York Jets should be higher than they were last year, but not too high to be unreasonable, such as expecting them to make it into the playoffs. They are still a couple years from being playoff contenders, especially with how much other teams in the AFC alone have improved over the last few seasons. The New York Jets should expect to win at least 7 games given the talent they have as well as the talent they acquired in the draft, making this upcoming season a move in the right direction, as long as things go right and nothing too severe happens, halting any progress the team makes. 

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