NY Jets New Year's Resolution No. 4: The Jets should be in playoff contention a year from now
To make this resolution happen, a lot needs to go right for the Jets this coming offseason. And the Jets need a serious stroke of good luck when it comes to injuries. Like all NFL teams, the Jets have had to endure injuries to key players, but no team in the last few years has been hit with more misfortune than the Jets.
This current season, virtually all of the Jets' most significant draft picks and free-agent pickups have either missed considerable time or have been lost for the entire year. See Carl Lawson, Marcus Maye, Mekhi Becton, Lamarcus Joyner, Corey Davis, Michael Carter, Zach Wilson, Elijah Moore, etc.
For the Jets to potentially be able to break up their current franchise tying playoff drought, they'll need plenty of luck, but they will also need to hit a home run in the draft and free agency.
The Jets will also hope that their current first-year players get better in year two, most importantly, Zach Wilson. But it's not crazy as you think for the Jets to potentially go from a four-win campaign to an eight or nine-win season a year from now, or at least be somewhere in that neighborhood next season during this time next year.
To get into contention by late December in an expanded NFL playoff field, all a team needs to do is hover at or near the 500. mark. Take a look at the current playoff picture in both conferences. Several NFL teams are in contention with two weeks to go in the regular season that fit those criteria.
A year ago at this time, one of the worst teams in the league, the Cincinnati Bengals, finished the season with four wins. Other teams like the Patriots and Chargers finished below 500. and were way out of the mix come December. A year later, these aforementioned franchises are all in the hunt.
It's been so long since the Jets have played meaningful games late in the year, save for a brief hiccup six years ago in 2015. This timeframe of the year for the Jets has always been about impending changes and draft positioning.
Maybe, just maybe, 2022 could be the Jets' return to relevance — something that has eluded them since the now very distant days of Rex Ryan.
There have been some pundits that have comically referred to the Jets' 2021 season as an unmitigated disaster. Truthfully, you could label the last decade for the franchise as that, but in 2021, this season wasn't about wins and losses.
Most reasonable followers of the Jets knew that this season's record didn't matter. Expectations were justifiably tempered.
For a first-year head coach taking over a franchise that was resetting and rebuilding with the league's youngest roster, any hope or a delusion of a quick Jets turnaround in 2021 was dashed when the summer came along, and key star players went down.
However, the 2022 Jets season won't have the same low expectation level that 2021 did. Progress will be demanded and expected. Jets fans don't like the idea that the Saleh and Douglas tandem could survive another subpar year in 2022, but they could, depending on the circumstances and variables involved.
However, if the franchise is at the bottom of the league again in that two to four-win territory come next December, all bets could be off.
In all likelihood, 2023 will be the put-up or shut-up time for Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh one way or the other. The Johnsons are giving the new regime plenty of rope to make it work.
But for the Jets franchise to finally have hope, the team will need to start providing some tangible evidence in 2022. Getting to December while being mathematically alive for a playoff spot would be the first real sign of promise the Jets have had in years.
The goal in 2021 wasn't for the team to become overnight contenders, and the team's approach has run counter to that mindset. The purpose of building through the draft and from within is to achieve long-term sustainable success.
But the only way to start showing signs of that becoming a reality is by starting to win more games. That's going to be the expectation level for the new year.