The NY Jets, unfortunately, saw their Cinderella campaign end as their 2022 postseason chances officially hit zero. However, despite their dysfunctional quarterback situation, the season should be considered an overall success.
For the first time since the Rex Ryan era, the Jets appear to be building momentum as a true contender. Their defense is objectively awesome. Their offense has weapons. And, for the first time in a while, their roster is littered with young talent.
In hindsight, it seems clear that the Jets were the clear winner of last year's NFL Draft. In fact, as the regular season draws to a close, the Jets are in the rare position of holding the betting favorites for both the Offensive Rookie of the Year (Garrett Wilson), as well as the Defensive Rookie of the Year (Sauce Gardner).
Sauce Gardner's DROY Case
The race for Defensive Rookie of the Year seems to be a lock. During the draft process, scouts indicated that Sauce Gardner was a generational talent with the potential to be the best corner in the draft. Fast forward several months and Gardner has exceeded every expectation.
The No. 4 overall pick has not only established himself as the best in his class but PFF metrics indicate that the rookie phenom has already become the best cornerback in the entire NFL. Even in a class with a staggering eight of the top 20 highest-graded CBs, Gardner is in a tier by himself.
Garrett Wilson's OROY Case
The OROY race is shaping up to be much more interesting. A late boost provided by quarterback Mike White had Wilson as a slight betting favorite, but after Week 17, Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker has retained the top spot.
A lot has happened to allow Wilson, who was omitted entirely from ESPN's top 10 rookie rankings in November, to make up so much ground. Walker, who seemed like an early-season lock for the award, was limited by injuries.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Chris Olave, a consistent top rookie, has also slowed down the stretch, failing to surpass 65 yards or score a touchdown since Week 11.
Wilson now holds a slight edge over Olave in what feels like a two-man race between the Ohio State teammates. Olave currently has 67 receptions, 982 receiving yards, and three touchdowns on the season (14 games played).
Wilson, on the other hand, checks in with 74 receptions, 1,014 yards, and four touchdowns in 16 games played. Both marks are incredibly impressive considering each club's limitations at quarterback.
The race is close, but if Wilson is able to outperform his Buckeye counterpart in at least two of the three statistical categories listed above, he could cement himself as the OROY favorite.
Following through with rookie award winners on both sides of the ball would put the 2022 New York Jets in rare territory. Only twice in league history have teammates earned these honors in the same season.
One came in 1967 when Detroit tandem Mel Farr and Lem Barney took home the awards. More recently, New Orleans duo Alvin Kamara and Marshon Lattimore swept the honors in 2017.
The notion of the Jets winning both awards is even more impressive by the fact that another OROY favorite, running back Breece Hall, was lost to injury earlier in the season. When he returns, The Jets are poised to have one of the best rookie classes in recent memory.