As the NY Jets enjoyed their bye week, it gave some time for fans to reflect on what it feels like to root for a winning team after many lost years for the franchise.
This team is full of young talent which makes the run that they had to start the season even more exciting, knowing that this could be sustained over time.
Even the most optimistic of Jets fans would have had a difficult time predicting some of the narratives that would exist at the bye week as they do now.
1. The NY Jets' record of 6-3 at the bye week
The record is the first thing that jumps off the page when it comes to surprises at the bye week.
Not only did sportsbooks (over/under at 5.5 before the season) underestimate the team, but even those excited about the Jets thought that a good season for them would be an incremental improvement ending up somewhere around seven or eight wins.
The other dynamic that media and fans were harping on was the tough start to the schedule and how it was going to be imperative for the team to try and at least be close to .500 before then.
While there is still plenty of games left to be played, being at 6-3 at the bye in a prime position to have an outright lead of the AFC East with a win in Week 11 is not something that seemed fathomable just a few months ago.
With this record, fans should embrace the moment of being able to enjoy competitive football again. However, there should also be an approach in thinking that the team needs to take advantage of what appears to be more parity than ever.
With their win against Buffalo in Week 9, the Jets showed they can beat a team with any type of talent. This type of confidence can build quickly. The goal should be to get a ticket to the dance and see what happens from there.
2. The NY Jets' defense goes from worst in the league to top 10 (at least)
The Jets' defense finished the 2021 season dead last in DVOA, points allowed, and yards allowed last season. While the talent on that side of the ball was surely lacking, it was also a bit of a shocker to see those numbers with Robert Saleh as a defensive-minded head coach.
One of the key factors heading into his second year was going to be getting the defense from the basement to at least a respectable place. The turnaround was far greater than even that.
The breakout season from Quinnen Williams, the dynamic duo of Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed, key pieces playing consistently every week such as Michael Carter II, Kwon Alexander, and more have led to a massive jump for the defense.
Through nine games, the defense ranks sixth in DVOA, ninth in points allowed, and fifth in yards allowed, solidifying themselves as a top-10 defense in major statistical categories.
The Jets have also gotten hot at the right time, making game-changing plays over the past number of weeks. They are trending toward a top-5 level of play if the defensive unit keeps up the recent pace they've been on.
3. The NY Jets' ability to overcome injuries at key positions
Every team deals with injuries in the NFL. Over the past number of years, however, the Jets have been decimated by losing players at key positions before and during the seasons.
From C.J. Mosley in 2019 to Carl Lawson in 2021 and so many more, it felt like the Jets could never catch a break and the devastating injuries took a toll on the locker room in believing the team had a chance.
This season, the Jets have once again dealt with plenty of injuries. Quarterback Zach Wilson missed the first three games of the season. Every starter on their offensive line other than Connor McGovern and Laken Tomlinson has been injured (with season-ending ones to Mekhi Becton and Alijah-Vera Tucker).
They lost their rising star in rookie running back Breece Hall for the season. Key starters/contributors in Corey Davis, Jermaine Johnson, Quincy Williams, and more have missed time already.
If fans were told that the team continued its poor injury luck again this season, many would have rightfully said that it would be too difficult for a young team to overcome. For two key reasons, the organization has been able to overcome major injuries and play winning football.
The first reason is the general manager Joe Douglas has built up this roster to a point where there is depth at many positions to be able to deal with injuries as they come in this league. The second is that the coaching staff has garnered the ability to get players to embrace the next-man-up mentality.
This team hasn't folded from adversity, even though there has been plenty of it to deal with. Heading into the second half of their season, the Jets have already created some shockingly positive narratives.
Now, it's time for the Jets to finish the job and add another narrative that many wouldn't have believed at the start of the 2022 season: ending their infamous 11-year playoff drought.