The vast majority of NY Jets fans had their eyes squarely on the draft order for the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft entering the team's Week 14 game against the Houston Texans. And who could've blamed them?
This was a Jets team that had not only lost five consecutive games, but they had done so in the most unspectacular, inept, and utterly lifeless way possible. There was little hope for the Jets entering Week 14.
But this is the Jets we're talking about. This team has proven time and time again that fans should always expect the unexpected. That was the case on Sunday.
Zach Wilson returned to the starting lineup and helped engineer the best offensive performance by the Jets this season. Wilson and the Jets scored 30 points in the second half en route to a 30-6 domination of a talented Texans team.
In doing so, the Jets earned more than just a meaningless December victory. They provided the blueprint for how the team expects to win with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback in 2024 — the same blueprint they hoped to follow this season.
The NY Jets' win in Week 14 was proof that they can win with Aaron Rodgers
For as great as it would've been for the Jets to have a chance at a top-two pick in the draft or even a top-five pick, the team's win in Week 14 ultimately means more. This was the best-case scenario, all things considered.
Sure, the Jets could've lost out. They could've lost their final five games, finished with four wins, and likely solidified a top-five pick. That would've also meant the Jets lost their final 10 games of the season.
Considering the Jets plan to run it back with essentially the same regime and a very similar roster in 2024, how could anyone have had confidence in this team going into the offseason with 10 straight losses?
The Jets showed on Sunday exactly how they planned to win games this season, although they did it with Wilson at quarterback instead of Rodgers. A dominant defensive performance coupled with stellar special-teams output and an above-average offensive game.
That's what the Jets hoped would lead them to the postseason and beyond this season. The Jets built this defense to play with leads. That's when they're at their best — when they can pin their ears back, force teams to be aggressive, and get after the opposing quarterback.
Unfortunately, the Jets' offense hasn't allowed that plan to come to fruition this season. On Sunday, we saw what this Jets team is capable of when they're at their best. They dominated a playoff-caliber opponent in a blowout win.
That alone provides optimism for this Jets team going into the offseason. Wilson and the offense proved that this blueprint can work with Rodgers in 2024. Up until now, that was still very much in question.
If Rodgers returns and plays at a high level in 2024, there's no reason the Jets can't compete for the playoffs or even more next season. This win is evidence of that.