New York Jets 2022 NFL Season Preview

Quarterback

For over a decade, the Jets have been stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of rebuilding, drafting a quarterback high, failing, tearing it down, firing everyone involved, and rebuilding again. Dating back to the 2006 NFL Draft, no team has drafted as many quarterbacks in the first two rounds than Jets, who have drafted six in that timespan, none of whom have had any prolonged success, Kellen Clemens, Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Christian Hackenburg, Sam Darnold, and Zach Wilson. 

It hasn’t just been the quarterback position that has been a problem, but the Jets currently have the NFL’s longest active playoff drought, dating back to their last appearance in the 2010 season, and their only two playoff appearances since Chad Pennington’s final season with the team in 2007 came in back-to-back years in 2009-2010 when Mark Sanchez was carried by defenses that ranked 1st and 3rd in efficiency. Outside of years when they have had elite defenses, the Jets have not qualified for the post-season, with their quarterbacks routinely doing nothing to positively affect the outcome of this team.

The Jets are going into year two of attempt six to replace Chad Pennington with a franchise quarterback, also year two of former 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh as head coach, and so far things are not going well. Wilson, the #2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, finished his rookie season with 55.6% completion, 6.09 YPA, 9 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 4 rushing touchdowns, 185 rushing yards, and 29 carries (6.38 YPC) in 13 starts, missing time with injury, and ranking just 34th among 39 eligible quarterbacks on PFF, on a Jets team that finished 25th in offensive efficiency, 30th in overall efficiency, and went just 4-13, their 6th straight losing record (3-10 in Wilson’s starts).

The team’s lack of success was not only the fault of their quarterback play last season, as they ranked 31st in defensive efficiency and had problems around Wilson on offense, but Wilson will need to be significantly better in year two for the Jets to even be able to think about competing to end their playoff drought, in a loaded AFC, especially since some of the issues on this roster still remain. It’s very possible Wilson could take a big step forward in his second season in the league, but even a big step forward might not make him an average starting quarterback and he entered the league as a raw boom or bust prospect, so it wouldn’t be a surprise at all if he ultimately never panned out.

The Jets bring back both of the backups who started games in Wilson’s absence last season, Joe Flacco and Mike White, who will compete to be Wilson’s backup this season, with a possibility of the Jets keeping all three on the roster. Flacco is an experienced veteran with 176 career starts in 14 seasons in the league, but he is going into his age 37 season having completed just 61.7% of his passes for an average of 6.72 YPA, 27 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions in just 22 starts over the past four seasons and his days of being even a low end starter are almost definitely behind him at this point. 

Flacco is not a terrible backup, but he’s nearly the end of the line. White on the other hand, is a 2018 5th round pick who made the first 3 starts of his career last season, showing promise with 66.7% completion, 7.22 YPA, 5 touchdowns in those starts, but who ultimately probably has a long way to go to be a consistent backup option, as evidenced by his 8 interceptions. It’s an underwhelming quarterback room overall, barring an unexpected breakout from Wilson.

Grade: C+

Receiving Corps

The Jets accumulated a significant amount of future resources as part of their most recent rebuild and they have cashed in a lot of those resources in the past few off-seasons, with the Jets making 7 picks in the first 36 picks of the draft in just the past two years and spending significantly to give them the 10th most expensive roster in the league in terms of combined average annual salary, which correlates heavily with winning percentage. However, the jury is still out on many of those draft picks, especially the four early picks they had this year, and many of their free agent additions have not panned out thus far.

One of those additions who has disappointed thus far is wide receiver Corey Davis, who signed a 3-year, 37.5 million dollar deal with this team last off-season to potentially be their long-term #1 receiver. Davis still averaged an impressive 1.74 yards per route run average in 2021, but that was down from a 1.95 yards per route run average in his final three seasons with the Titans prior from 2018-2020, and Davis was also limited to 450 snaps in 9 games by injury, leading to him posting just a 34/492/4 slash line in his first season with the Jets. 

Durability has been a concern for Davis throughout his career, as he has played in every game just once in five seasons in the league, while missing 16 games total over that stretch, but he’s also only going into his age 27 season and has obvious bounce back potential if he can stay relatively healthy. He’s not a true #1 wide receiver, but he should be an above average wide receiver who has a good chance to lead this team in receiving totals if he can play all or most of the season.

The Titans also added wide receiver Elijah Moore last off-season, selecting him in the 2nd round of the draft, and the Jets also should get more out of him this season, after he impressed with a 1.75 yards per route run average as a rookie, but was limited to just 476 snaps in 11 games because he began the season as a backup and then missed significant time with injury down the stretch, after taking over as a starter mid-season. He might not be quite as efficient in a larger role, but he has a good chance to break out as at least a solid starter in 2022.

Moore isn’t the only wide receiver the Jets have used a high pick on recently either. In the 2020 NFL Draft, the Jets selected Denzel Mims in the 2nd round, though he’s shown very little thus far, playing just 718 total snaps and averaging just 1.13 yards per route run. He didn’t play a big role in 2021 and is not expected to be anything more than a backup this season, after the Jets used another high pick on a wide receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft, selecting Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson 10th overall. 

Wilson figures to start in three wide receiver sets with Davis and Moore and, while he might have some growing pains as a rookie, he has the upside to be a #1 receiver long-term and could easily make at least some immediate impact. With Davis and Moore likely to be healthier, Moore going into his second season in the league, and Wilson being added, the Jets suddenly have a top-3 wide receiver group with a lot of upside and one that should be a noticeable upgrade over a year ago, even if they don’t reach their full potential.

The Jets also re-signed Braxton Berrios to a 2-year, 12 million dollar deal to give them depth at the wide receiver position, beyond Mims. Berrios hasn’t played much on offense in his career, with 765 offensive snaps in 4 seasons in the league, including a career high 390 last season, but he’s averaged an impressive 1.84 yards per route run average in his limited action and was worth keeping as depth in case injuries strike ahead of him on the depth chart again, especially since he also doubles as a talented return man. The 5-9 190 pounder is a slot specialist who has played 73.5% of his career snaps on the slot, but he also can play outside a little bit as well, if needed.

The Jets also spent money to upgrade their tight end group this off-season, letting go of veterans Ryan Griffin (583 snaps) and Tyler Kroft (363 snaps), who contributed very little with yards per route run averages of 0.98 and 0.93 respectively, and replacing them with CJ Uzomah and Tyler Conklin, who signed deals worth 24 million over 3 years and 20.25 million over 3 years respectively to join the Jets this off-season. They probably won’t be significant upgrades though.

Both Uzomah and Conklin are coming off career best seasons, but they managed just slash lines of 49/493/5 and 61/593/3 respectively, despite being their team’s primary tight ends, and both are unlikely to match those totals in 2022, since they will be the Jets 1A and 1B starters, rather than either one being a true primary tight end like they were last season. They also managed yards per route run averages of just 1.07 and 1.24 respectively last season, barely up from career averages of 1.03 and 1.14 respectively. 

Uzomah and Conklin are probably upgrades by default over what the Jets had at tight end last season, but neither is more than a middling starter and the Jets paid quite a bit to get both of them. The Jets also added a Jeremy Ruckert in the 3rd round of the draft, although it’s unclear if he’ll have much of a role as a rookie, likely to be the 3rd string tight end at best, barring injuries ahead of him on the depth chart. The Jets’ top-2 tight ends are underwhelming, but they are part of an overall much improved receiving corps, even if that is an improvement over being one of the least effective receiving corps in the league a year ago.

Grade: B

Running Backs

The Jets’ running game was actually impressive on a per play basis last season, as they ranked 13th in the NFL with an impressive 4.39 YPC average, led by 4th round rookie Michael Carter, who rushed for 4.35 YPC and 4 touchdowns on 147 carries, while averaging 1.48 yards per route run on passing plays, 16th among eligible running backs. However, the Jets also finished dead last in the NFL with 380 carries as a team last season, frequently trailing and needing to pass more often to keep pace. 

With the idea in mind of playing more competitive games and running more often in 2022, clearly the Jets felt they needed to reinforce their backfield, making Iowa State’s Breece Hall the first running back off the board in this year’s draft when they selected him 36th overall at the top of the second round. Hall has three-down potential and caught 82 passes in three collegiate seasons, but he’ll likely rotate with Carter, with both young backs seeing significant action on passing downs and running downs. 

The Jets also brought back Tevin Coleman and Ty Johnson, who finished 2nd and 3rd on this team in carries last season with 84 and 61 respectively, and they’ll provide depth behind Carter and Hall. Coleman is a somewhat proven back with 4.24 YPC on 777 career carries in 7 seasons in the league and a career 1.27 yards per route run average, and he has years of experience in the Jets’ style of offense with the 49ers and Falcons, but he’s averaged just 3.65 YPC on just 112 carries over the past two injury plagued seasons and now heads into his age 29 season, so he isn’t much more than good depth. 

Johnson impressed as the Jets’ primary passing down back last season, averaging 1.45 yards per route run, but the 2019 6th round pick has an average of just 1.07 yards per route run in his career and, while his career 4.30 YPC average is decent, he’s never surpassed 63 carries in a season and has just 178 carries total in three seasons in the league. He’s more of a bottom of the roster type than anything, but it’s unlikely he has much of a role in 2022 anyway. How the split works out between Carter and Hall remains to be seen and they’re inexperienced players, but they give the Jets a lot of potential at this position, with good depth behind their top-2 backs as well.

Grade: B+

Offensive Line

The biggest free agent signing the Jets added this off-season was guard Laken Tomlinson, who comes over from the 49ers on a 3-year, 40 million dollar deal. A first round pick by the Lions in 2015, Tomlinson was a bust in Detroit and was sent to the 49ers for a late round draft pick after just two seasons, but they proved to be giving up on him too soon, as he has earned an average or better grade from PFF in all 5 seasons since the 49ers acquired him, making 80 of a possible 81 starts and finishing as PFF’s 8th and 11th ranked guard over the past two seasons respectively. He’s now going into his age 30 season, so he could start to decline soon, but he also has a good chance of remaining an above average starter for another year, remaining in the same blocking scheme with the Jets that he had success in with the 49ers. He should be an obvious upgrade for a team that had a weakness at right guard in 2021.

With Tomlinson being added, the Jets now can start five offensive linemen who have been added either on a big free agent deal or in the first round of the draft at some point in the past few off-seasons. The biggest disappointment of the bunch so far is probably 2020 1st round pick Mekhi Becton, but he had an impressive rookie season, finishing 32nd among offensive tackles on PFF in 13 starts at left tackle, and could easily still develop into an above average starter long-term. 

The reason Becton has been disappointing is because he missed all but one game with a knee injury last season and reportedly the team felt he did not do enough to stay in shape during the injury, ultimately leading to him not returning all season from what was expected to be about a 6-week injury. However, that injury seems to be behind him now and, while his conditioning and durability have been a consistent issue for him throughout his career, dating back to his collegiate days, he still has the potential to live up to his first round draft status.

With Becton out for most of last season, right tackle George Fant moved to the left side, leaving capable veteran Morgan Moses to start on the right side. In 2022, Moses is no longer with the team and Becton could retain his left tackle job, moving Fant back to right tackle, but the Jets could also opt to keep Fant on the left side and move Becton to the right side, after Fant had a solid season on the blindside in 2021, finishing an above average 39th among offensive tackles on PFF in 15 starts.

Signed to a 3-year, 27 million dollar deal in free agency two off-seasons ago, Fant was a risky signing because he struggled mightily in his lone season as a starter prior to signing with the Jets, finishing 83rd out of 86 eligible offensive tackles on PFF in 10 starts as an undrafted rookie in 2016, but he showed more promise in a reserve role in 2018 and 2019, on snap counts of 371 and 472 respectively, and the Jets bet on that promise and that he was just forced into action too early as a rookie. 

Fant wasn’t a great value after being just a marginal starting right tackle in year one in 2020 (14 starts), but, after the best full season of his career in 2021, he looks like a much better value now. Unfortunately, he’s now going into his age 30 season and is unlikely to repeat the best season of his career again in 2022, but he should remain at least a capable starter with upside, regardless of whether he ultimately plays left or right tackle.

The other recent first round pick on this offense was 2021 1st round pick Alijah Vera-Tucker, who earned a slightly above average grade from PFF across 16 rookie season starts at left guard in 2021. He has the potential to be one of the best guards in the league someday and, while development is not always linear, it wouldn’t be a surprise at all if he took a big step forward in year two and, at the very least, I would be surprised if he wasn’t at least a solid starter again.

Center Connor McGovern remains locked in as the starter, going into the final year of a 3-year, 27 million dollar deal that he signed with the Jets after spending the first four seasons of his career with the Broncos, who drafted him in the 6th round in 2016. McGovern was PFF’s 9th ranked center in his final season in Denver and had started 31 of 32 games over the previous two seasons, but he was a one-year wonder in terms of being more than an average starter for a full season and he was a bit of a disappointment in his first season with the Jets in 2020, finishing 26th out of 39 eligible centers on PFF in 16 starts, not what the Jets were expecting after making him the 9th highest paid center in the league in average annual salary on his new contract. 

McGovern bounced back in a big way in 2021 though, finishing as PFF’s 10th ranked center in 15 starts. He’s definitely been inconsistent in his four seasons as a starter, but he’s still in his prime in age 29 season and could easily have another solid season again in 2022, even if he may be unlikely to quite repeat the season he had last year. The Jets also added depth on the offensive line this off-season. They signed ex-Eagle Nate Herbig, who has been an above average spot starter at both guard positions over the past two seasons (17 starts total) and who could easily start for an extended period of time if needed, and drafted Max Mitchell in the 4th round, who could push underwhelming swing tackle Chuma Edoga, a 2019 3rd round pick in his own right, for the swing tackle job. With Tomlinson being added and Becton returning, this could easily be an above average offensive line this season.

Grade: B+

Edge Defenders

As I mentioned earlier, defense was actually more of a problem for the Jets than offense last season, as they ranked 31st in defensive efficiency. Part of that was injuries, as they were even more banged up on defense than on offense, having the most adjusted games lost on defense in the NFL. Probably the most impactful injury absence they had was edge defender Carl Lawson, a big off-season addition for them, signing a 3-year, 45 million dollar deal, but then missing his entire first season in New York with a torn achilles that he suffered before the season even began.

That means Lawson is another big free agent signing by the Jets who has not lived up to his contract, but that doesn’t mean he can’t live up to it going forward. Durability has been a continued issue for Lawson, who has now missed 30 games total in 5 seasons in the league, but he’s shown himself to be a consistently above average pass rusher when on the field, totaling 20 sacks, 60 hits, and a 14.3% pressure rate in 51 career games. He’s not much of a run defender, but that didn’t stop him from finishing 16th among edge defenders across 723 snaps in his last healthy season in 2020, when he had 5.5 sacks, 24 hits, and a 14.6% pressure rate. 

Lawson might have a tough time repeating that in his first season back from the injury and he could also miss more time, given his injury history, but he should remain an above average pass rusher when on the field, only going into his age 27 season, which should make him a big asset for a team that got very underwhelming play from most of their edge defenders in Lawson’s absence last season. The Jets also used a first round pick on edge defender Jermaine Johnson, who should also play a big role as a rookie. He might not make as much impact as Lawson in his first season in the league, but he has a big upside and it wouldn’t be hard for him to be an upgrade on most of the edge defenders who played for the Jets last season. 

The only Jets edge defender who earned an above average grade from PFF last season was John Franklin-Myers, who finished as PFF’s 15th ranked edge defender across 717 snaps, playing the run well and adding 6 sacks, 9 hits, and a 12.3% pressure rate as a pass rusher, saving an otherwise terrible position group in 2021. Franklin-Myers also had 3 sacks, 10 hits, and a 14.4% pressure rate while ranking 36th at his position on PFF across 500 snaps as an interior defender in 2020 and, with Lawson returning and Johnson being added, it’s fair to wonder if the 6-4 288 pound Franklin-Myers will line up inside a lot more often in 2022, especially in passing situations, which would allow the Jets to get their three best pass rushers on the field at the same time. 

Franklin-Myers was a 4th round pick by the Rams in 2018 who was surprisingly not kept after his rookie season, despite a 11.7% pressure rate in limited action, but his loss proved to be the Jets’ gain, given how he’s played over the past two seasons. Extended on a 4-year, 55 million dollar deal, Franklin-Myers has a good chance to be worth that, still only in his age 26 season and signed through 2025. Wherever he lines up most of the time in 2022, he figures to be tough for opposing defenses to stop, especially with Lawson and Johnson to worry about now as well. 

The Jets also added more edge defender depth in free agency when they signed Jacob Martin to a 3-year, 13.5 million dollar deal. Martin was a little overstretched as a starter with the Texans last season (700 snaps), but he was better in a reserve role in his first three seasons in the league (273 snaps per season) and has a career 11.2% pressure rate overall. He should continue being a useful rotational player and reserve. 

Martin will compete for reserve snaps with another rookie, 4th round pick Michael Clemons, as well as their top returning reserve edge defender Bryce Huff (338 snaps), who has been middling at best in similar snap counts in two seasons in the league since going undrafted in 2020. He’s unlikely to be significantly improved in 2022, but he won’t be needed much at a position group that looks much better than a year ago with Johnson being added and Lawson returning.

Grade: B+

Interior Defenders

Another reason why Franklin-Myers could see significant action on the interior is because they lost Foley Fatukasi in free agency without really replacing him, a significant loss after he earned a slightly above average grade from PFF across 558 snaps last season, prior to signing in Jacksonville on a 3-year, 30 million dollar deal this off-season. The interior defender position was already underwhelming for the Jets last season, prior to the loss of Fatukasi, so there are definitely concerns at this position, but, in addition to Franklin-Myers potentially moving inside, there is also reason to believe the Jets could get significantly better play from their holdovers.

The Jets’ top interior defender Quinnen Williams was PFF’s 43rd ranked interior defender in 2021 across 613 snaps, holding up against the run and adding 6 sacks, 5 hits, and a 9.4% pressure rate, but that’s a significant drop off from a 13rd ranked finish among interior defenders across 587 snaps in 2020, when he had 7 sacks, 9 hits, and a 10.3% pressure rate. Williams was the 3rd overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and played pretty well as a rookie across 512 snaps as well, so he still has a lot of upside and could easily bounce back in a big way in 2022, still only his age 25 season. Even if he doesn’t bounce back, he should remain at least a solid starter, but the upside for much more is there as well.

The Jets are also hoping for more out of Sheldon Rankins, a free agent signing on a 2-year, 11 million dollar deal last off-season who was a big disappointment in his first season with the team, finishing 125th out of 146 eligible interior defenders on PFF across 643 snaps. Rankins has had better years in the past and is a former first round pick who is still only in his age 28 season, but he also hasn’t been the same since a torn achilles during the 2018 playoffs and he has missed 18 games total with injury in 6 seasons in the league. He could easily be better in 2022 than he was in 2021, even if only by default, after 2021 was the worst season of his career, but it’s unlikely Rankins will approach the season he had in 2018 before the injury, when he finished 25th among interior defenders in 642 snaps.

Reserve Nathan Shepherd is the least impressive of the three holdovers. The 2018 3rd round pick earned above average grades from PFF in his first two seasons in the league, but he’s finished below average in each of the past two and has never been more than a rotational player, with the 495 snaps he played last season being a career high. There is opportunity for him to again have a similar snap count and he has a little bit of bounce back potential, but he’s unlikely to be more than decent depth and would likely struggle if forced into a starting role by injuries. He was a free agent this off-season, but had a cold market and returned to the Jets on a near minimum deal.

Shepherd will compete with the Jets’ lone free agent acquisition at the position, Solomon Thomas, who was added on a 1-year, 2.25 million dollar deal, but isn’t guaranteed a significant role. Thomas was the 3rd overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft by the 49ers, with whom he played four years under new Jets head coach Robert Saleh, but he proved to be a massive bust, earning below average grades from PFF in three of four seasons with the 49ers, before finishing a career worst 138th out of 146 eligible interior defenders across 554 snaps with the Raiders in 2021. 

Thomas is still relatively young in his age 27 season, he has the versatility to line up both inside and outside, and he could benefit from moving back into a familiar scheme, but he hasn’t gotten consistent pass rush regardless of where he’s lined up in his career (7.1% pressure rate) and he’s unlikely to have significant untapped potential at this point in his career. He adds to a position group that is underwhelming outside of top interior defender Quinnen Williams, but Williams could have a big bounce back year, and would elevate an otherwise mediocre group significantly if he did that.

Grade: B-

Linebackers

The off ball linebacker position was a big weakness for the Jets in 2021 and, without major changes made to this group this off-season, that should remain the case again in 2022. Mosley signed a 5-year, 85 million contract with the Jets in free agency three off-season ago, but he has been a massive bust thus far, missing all but 114 snaps with injury in his first season with the team, opting out of the 2020 season, and then struggled mightily in his first extended action with the Jets in 2021, finishing 81st out of 94 eligible off ball linebackers on PFF across 874 snaps. 

Making matters worse, because Mosley opted out in 2020, his contract rolled forward, which means his final year with guaranteed money, which would have otherwise been last season, is now this season, which meant the Jets didn’t have a choice but to give him another chance, even at a 16 million dollar salary for 2022. Unless he bounces back in a big way this season, which is very unlikely, Mosley will almost definitely be let go this off-season, to avoid paying him another 17 million in 2023.

Mosley may have some bounce back potential in 2022 and it wouldn’t be hard for him to be better, even if only by default, but he now heads into his age 30 season, so his best days are almost definitely behind him at this point, and, even at his best, he was never worth the contract the Jets gave him. In five seasons with the Ravens, he maxed out as PFF’s 16th ranked linebacker, which was way back in 2016, but he still got a contract from the Jets that even three years later is the 3rd most expensive in the league for an off ball linebacker, in terms of average annual salary. Mosley is likely to remain a liability, now three years removed from his last good full season, and, even if he bounces back some, he’s still very unlikely to be worth his salary.

Quincy Williams was the Jets’ other starting off ball linebacker in 2022, playing 881 snaps total, but he struggled mightily in the first extended starting action of his career, finishing 75th out of 94 eligible among off ball linebackers on PFF, after showing little promise in smaller roles early in his career (583 defensive snaps between 2019 and 2020). As a result of his poor play last season, he won’t be guaranteed a starting role, even if the Jets don’t have a clearly better option. Williams was a third rookie pick, so he may still have some untapped upside, but, going into his 4th year in the league, he’s running out of time to make good on that upside.

Del’Shawn Phillips (161 snaps), Jamien Sherwood (139 snaps), and Hamsah Nasirildeen (60 snaps) were their top reserves a year ago and will be the primary competition for Williams’ starting role in 2022, but Nasirildeen was just a 6th round pick in 2021, Sherwood was just a 5th round pick in 2021, Phillips went undrafted in 2019 and none of them showed much promise in the first limited action of their careers in 2021, so they’re likely to remain backup caliber players at best going forward.

Nasirildeen and Sherwood may have untapped upside, going into their second year in the league, but, most likely, they’ll remain reserves in 2022 and would likely also struggle if given a starting role. The Jets also added Marcell Harris in free agency from the 49ers and he knows the scheme, but the converted safety has been underwhelming in his career regardless of where he plays and has never played more than 358 snaps in a season. He’s another underwhelming option at a very underwhelming position group that desperately needs CJ Mosley to have an unlikely bounce back year.

Grade: C

Secondary

Cornerback is another position that was a huge weakness for the Jets in 2021, but they did a good job overhauling this position, adding Ahmad Gardner with the 4th overall pick, who has long-term #1 cornerback upside and could make a big impact even as a rookie, and signing DJ Reed to a 3-year, 33 million dollar deal. Along with Bryce Hall, their top cornerback a year ago and their only cornerback to earn even an average grade from PFF in 2021, Gardner and Reed will be the Jets’ top cornerbacks in 2022, at what should be a much improved position group.

Gardner definitely has the most long-term upside, but Reed was PFF’s 10th ranked cornerback last season and has a good chance to be the Jets’ best cornerback in 2022. The 2018 5th round pick is only a one-year starter, making just 10 starts in his first 3 seasons in the league, prior to starting all 14 games he played last season, but he always showed promise as a part-time player, including a 2020 campaign in which he finished 19th among cornerbacks on PFF across 560 snaps, so he has a good chance to continue playing at a high level in 2022 and beyond, still only in his age 26 season.

Bryce Hall wasn’t bad as the Jets’ top cornerback in 2021, earning a middling grade from PFF, but he would definitely be a better fit as the 3rd cornerback, behind Reed and Gardner. A 5th round pick in 2020, Hall also earned a middling grade across 547 rookie year snaps. He should be at least a solid #3 cornerback, with the potential to develop further, still only in his age 25 season and his third season in the league. Reed, Gardner, and Hall should be at least a solid top-3 cornerback group.

Michael Carter (777 snaps), Javelin Guidry (487 snaps), and Brandin Echols (762 snaps) all saw significant action last season with Hall, but all struggled in their first significant career action, after entering the league as a 2021 5th round pick, 2020 undrafted free agent, and 2021 6th round pick respectively, and all will be much better served as depth in 2022, rather than being forced into significant action. This group of reserves might have a little upside, but it’s likely they all end up as reserves at best going forward.

At safety, the Jets lost Marcus Maye this off-season and he has been a high level player for them in the past, but he had a down year across 362 snaps in 6 games last season before missing the rest of the year with a torn achilles, so he won’t really be missed that much and the Jets did a good job replacing him, signing Jordan Whitehead from Tampa Bay to a 2-year, 14.5 million dollar deal. That should be a good value, even if Whitehead doesn’t repeat his 2021 performance, when he was PFF’s 17th ranked safety, as the 2018 4th round pick has earned at least an average grade from PFF in three of four seasons in the league (55 total career starts), including each of the past two seasons, and still only heads into his age 25 season in 2022.

Third year player Ashtyn Davis will likely remain the other starter, but the 2020 3rd round pick has been marginal at best while starting 16 of 23 games played over the past two seasons, including a 61st ranked finish among 98th eligible safeties in 2021, across 10 starts in 13 games. Davis is still young and could be better in his third season in the league in 2022, but he’s also likely to face competition from veteran LaMarcus Joyner, who was retained on a 1-year deal this off-season, after missing most of his 1-year deal with the Jets in 2021, going down for the season with an elbow injury after just 9 snaps in week 1.

Joyner is going into his age 32 season, coming off of a serious injury, with a concerning injury history (at least one game missed 7 of 8 seasons in the league), and hasn’t earned even an average grade from PFF for a full season since 2018, but that’s in large part due to the fact that he was playing out of position as a slot cornerback in his two seasons with the Raiders from 2019-2020. As a starting safety with the Rams in 2017 and 2018, Joyner started all 27 games he played and finished with season long grades from PFF that ranked 2nd and 28th among safeties in the two seasons respectively. It’s very unlikely he shows that kind of form in 2022, given his age and injury history, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he had another decent season in him as a starter and, if not, he should still provide good depth, in a secondary that should be much better with Whitehead, Reed, and Gardner being added this off-season.

Grade: B

Special Teams

As bad as the Jets were on both offense and defense last season, their special teams was a saving grace, actually ranking 2nd in special teams DVOA. It’s tough to have that kind of season two years in a row, but there are reasons to expect this to remain a well above average group. Braxton Berrios, PFF’s 3rd ranked returner in 2021, will remain their top return man, while their two best core special teamers a year ago, Hamsah Nasirildeen and Del’Shawn Phillips, also return, after both finished among the top-50 in special teams grade on PFF a year ago.

The Jets changed up their kicking specialists, but should still get solid play out of them. Thomas Morestead, the Jets’ best punter a year ago, is no longer with the team, but they’ll get Braden Mann back after he lost most of his 2021 season to injury, giving them a solid punting option, while new kicker Greg Zuerlein could prove to be an upgrade on the trio of Eddy Piniero, Matt Ammendola, and Alex Kessman, who were the weakness of this special teams unit a year ago. It’s tough to expect them to have a dominant special teams unit for two years in a row, but this should remain a well above average group.

Grade: A-

Conclusion

The Jets added a lot this off-season. They had four picks in the first 36 of the draft, including three first rounders, and all four figure to start or at least contribute significantly at positions of need in year one. They also had a good free agency haul, most notably adding guard Laken Tomlinson, safety Jordan Whitehead, and cornerback DJ Reed, who all figure to be above average starters and upgrades, while only losing one player of note, Foley Fatukasi, from last year’s team. 

The Jets also figure to be significantly healthier this season, after having the 2nd most adjusted games lost to injury last season, with edge defender Carl Lawson, wide receiver Corey Davis, offensive tackle Mekhi Becton, and safety LaMarcus Joyner being the most notable players to return after missing all or at least a big chunk of last season with injury. They also could easily get a significantly better year out of interior defender Quinnen Williams, interior defender Sheldon Rankins, and off ball linebacker CJ Mosley on defense, without any key players who seem likely to decline significantly, on a defense that was absolutely terrible a year ago.

All of this being said, the Jets have a huge hole to climb out of, after finishing last season 30th in the NFL in efficiency, despite a dominant special teams unit. Even if they are much better in many areas, that doesn’t mean they suddenly have a great supporting cast and they will need to get at least solid quarterback play out of Zach Wilson in year two, which would be a huge leap from a terrible rookie season, in order to even contend for a playoff spot in the loaded AFC. I don’t expect that to happen, even if they should be a lot more competitive than a year ago. I will have a final prediction at the end of the off-season when all previews are completed.

Prediction: TBD, TBD in AFC East

New York Jets at Buffalo Bills: 2021 Week 18 NFL Pick

New York Jets (4-12) at Buffalo Bills (10-6)

The Bills have beaten up on bad teams this season, en route to ranking first in schedule adjusted mixed efficiency and point differential (+177), going 8-1 against teams who are .500 or worse, with their one loss coming by three points and all eight wins coming by at least 14 points, with an average margin of victory of 24.5 points. The Jets would fall into the category of bad teams, but they are not as bad as their 4-12 record and they are being given 16 points here, so we have some room for them to cover even if this game isn’t particularly close, especially if they can get a backdoor cover against a defense that is missing its top cornerback Tre’Davious White, who played in most of the Bills blowout victories this season.

The Jets have struggled significantly with turnovers this season, with the league’s 2nd worst turnover margin at -13, but that is not as nearly predictive as schedule adjusted mixed efficiency, which is based on first down rate and yards per play. The Jets still rank 26th in that metric, but that is still better than their record suggests and their offense has been better in recent weeks, with quarterback Zach Wilson showing some promise. I wouldn’t bet on the Jets, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes, as my calculated line has them as 13-point underdogs.

Buffalo Bills 31 New York Jets 17

Pick against the spread: NY Jets +16

Confidence: Low

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Jets: 2021 Week 17 NFL Pick

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4) at New York Jets (4-11)

There is obviously a big talent gap between these two teams, but this line, favoring the Buccaneers by 13 points on the road, is too high, given all that the Buccaneers are missing right now. At the very least, they will be without talented wide receiver Chris Godwin, starting running back Leonard Fournette, top linebacker Lavonte David, and their top two edge defenders Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul, while their other two talented wide receivers Antonio Brown and Mike Evans are both legitimately questionable, as are their top safety Antoine Winfield and their top cornerback Jamel Dean. 

The Jets are not healthy either, missing their top three wide receivers Jamison Crowder, Elijah Moore, and Corey Davis and talented center Connor McGovern, while top cornerback Bryce Hall and top interior defender Quinnen Williams both legitimately questionable, but even in the worst case scenario for the Jets and the best case scenario for the Buccaneers, I have the Buccaneers favored by 12 points, so we’re getting line value with the Jets regardless. Even in the best case scenario for the Jets and the worst case for the Buccaneers, my calculated line is still 9, so I don’t know if I see myself betting on the Jets in any scenario, but they should be the better side for pick ‘em purposes.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31 New York Jets 20

Pick against the spread: NY Jets +13

Confidence: Low

Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets: 2021 Week 16 NFL Pick

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) at New York Jets (3-11)

Both of these teams have terrible records and point differentials, with the 2-12 Jaguars sitting at -174 and the 3-11 Jets sitting at -178, but there are reasons to expect the Jets to be the better of these two teams when they meet this weekend. While their point differentials are similar, the Jets have scored and allowed about 55 more points than the Jaguars, which is a good sign for a couple reasons. 

For one, it means their points scored/points allowed ratio is better, as the Jets have scored 0.584 points for every point they have allowed and the Jaguars have scored just .530, which tends to be more predictive than point differential. Offensive performance also tends to be much more predictive than defensive performance week-to-week so, in general, I favor a team with a better offense over a team with a better defense.

The Jets have also faced a tougher schedule and, in terms of schedule adjusted mixed efficiency, which takes schedule into account and weights offensive performance higher than defensive performance, the Jets rank 29th, while the Jaguars rank 31st. Both teams are terrible and the difference between their ranks might not seem like much, but the gap between these two teams in schedule adjusted mixed efficiency translates to about a 2.5 point advantage for the Jets.

Making matters even worse for the Jaguars is that they will have the most impactful absence in this game, with talented edge defender Josh Allen, arguably their best player on either side of the ball, expected to miss this game because of COVID protocols. Without Allen, the one advantage the Jaguars have, which is having a superior defense, is not nearly as much of an advantage, if it is still an advantage at all. 

Add in the fact that the Jets are at home and they should be favored to win this game by more than the 1.5 points they are currently favored by, which is only enough to cover the advantage of the Jets being at home. My calculated line has the Jets at -4 so we’re getting decent value with the Jets at -1.5. I don’t foresee myself betting on this one, but it’s possible I will change my mind and, either way, the Jets are the better side for pick ‘em purposes.

New York Jets 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 20

Pick against the spread: NY Jets -1.5

Confidence: Low

New York Jets at Miami Dolphins: 2021 Week 15 NFL Pick

New York Jets (3-10) at Miami Dolphins (6-7)

The Dolphins have won five straight games to put themselves back into playoff contention despite a 1-7 start. Between that and the fact that the Dolphins were 10-6 a year ago, the Dolphins are generally seen as at least an average team, but there are a couple things wrong with that. For one, the Dolphins were not nearly as good as their record a year ago, as they faced a very easy schedule and they benefited from an unsustainably high turnover margin (+11), opponent’s field goal percentage (3rd lowest at 73.91%), and 3rd/4th down conversion rate allowed (33.02%), which was actually lower than the 34.07% conversion rate they allowed on 1st/2nd down (4th highest in the NFL).

On top of that, the Dolphins’ schedule during their 5-game winning streak has been pretty easy, as only the Ravens are above .500 and they were playing a Thursday Night Football game after an overtime game, a near impossible spot, with teams covering at just a 16% rate in that spot all-time. Three of those five wins have come against among the worst teams in the league in the Jets, Giants, and the Texans, with two of those wins coming by just one-score, including a 7-point victory over these Jets in New York a few weeks ago.

That first Jets/Dolphins game was even closer than the final score too and, in fact, the Jets actually won both the first down rate and yards per play rate battles, which are the most predictive metrics. On the season, the Dolphins rank just 29th, 16th, and 27th in schedule adjusted offensive, defensive, and special teams efficiency, which are based on first down rate and yards per play, and their mixed efficiency, which ranks 26th in the NFL, puts them just about a point ahead of the Jets, who rank 28th. 

The Jets are not as healthy as they were the last time these two teams met, down their two best wide receivers Corey Davis and Elijah Moore, as well as their left tackle George Fant, but the Jets will have running back Michael Carter this time and the Dolphins are missing top wide receiver Jaylen Waddle and talented safety Jevon Holland due to COVID protocols. I have the Dolphins calculated as just 5.5-point favorites in this game, giving us significant value with the Jets at +9.5. The Dolphins are in a good spot in their third straight home game, a 55.2% cover spot all-time, and this is going to be a low confidence pick for now, but I may end up betting on the Jets on gameday once the results of COVID tests are back and we know for sure who is playing for each side.

Update: Holland will play for the Dolphins, while Folorunso Fatukasi is out with COVID for the Jets. The line has moved up to 10 to compensate, but I am no longer considering betting on the Jets, so this will remain a low confidence pick.

Final update: Jevon Holland will be inactive despite being cleared, but despite that, this line has moved up to 10.5 in some places. I am going to make a late play on the Jets at that number, as the Dolphins are very overvalued, especially without Waddle and Holland.

Miami Dolphins 24 New York Jets 19

Pick against the spread: NY Jets +10.5

Confidence: Medium

New Orleans Saints at New York Jets: 2021 Week 14 NFL Pick

New Orleans Saints (5-7) at New York Jets (3-9)

The Saints got off to a 5-2 start, but injuries and other absences have completely derailed their season. Already without top wide receiver Michael Thomas from the start of the year, the Saints have been without starting quarterback Jameis Winston, top offensive lineman Ryan Ramcyzk, first round pick edge defender Payton Turner, and starting tight end Adam Trautman for an extended period of time. They will get feature back Alvin Kamara, talented left tackle Terron Armstead, and starting edge defender Marcus Davenport back this week, but they will also be without suspended wide receiver Deonte Harris, a talented offensive and special teams player, and likely edge defender Cameron Jordan, who is in the COVID protocols and would be an enormous absence for this defense.

Despite their injury situation and their current 5-game losing streak, sinking their record to 5-7, the Saints are still 5.5-point road favorites in New York against the Jets. The Jets are one of the worst teams in the league, but, in their current state, the Saints don’t deserve to be favored by this many points on the road against anyone outside of maybe the Texans. My calculated line has the Saints favored by a field goal at most, so we’re getting enough line value with the Jets at +5.5 for them to be worth betting, especially since they are also in a significantly better spot.

The Jets lost last week at home to the Eagles as home underdogs, a 15-point loss, and teams cover at a 59.0% rate all-time as home underdogs the week following a loss as home underdogs by 14 points or more. The Jets should be much more focused for their second straight home game after a big loss last week. On the other hand, the Saints play the Buccaneers next week and could overlook the Jets or take their foot off in the second half even if they can get a big lead. Road favorites of 4.5 points or more cover at just a 43.8% rate all-time before facing an opponent with a winning percentage over 50% higher than their current opponent. This is a smaller play for now, but if Cameron Jordan is officially ruled out, I would consider increasing this bet, especially if the line moves up to 6 at some point.

New Orleans Saints 19 New York Jets 17

Pick against the spread: NY Jets +5.5

Confidence: Medium

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Jets: 2021 Week 13 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (5-7) at New York Jets (3-9)

The Eagles lost last week in an upset against the Giants in New York, but that was primarily because they lost the turnover battle by 4, which is not a predictive stat. In terms of first down rate and yards per play, which are much more predictive, the Eagles outperformed the Giants. Even with that loss taken into account, dropping the Eagles to 5-7, the Eagles still have a +31 point differential that ranks 12th in the NFL, despite the fact that the Eagles have overall faced one of the toughest schedules in the league, with six of their seven losses coming against teams with winning records. 

Against teams with losing records, the Eagles are 4-1, with their only loss coming last week and, even with that loss taken into account, the Eagles have outscored their opponents by an average of 14.4 points per game in those five games. All in all, the Eagles rank 10th, 11th, 12th, and 9th in offensive, defensive, special teams, and mixed efficiency. Given that, they should be able to beat the Jets with ease, as they are one of the worst teams in the league, ranking 30th in schedule adjusted mixed efficiency.

However, I am hesitant to bet the Eagles as 7-point road favorites because we don’t know how healthy Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts is, as he seems legitimately questionable and may not be 100% even if he does play. If Hurts plays at less than 100%, I would be concerned that it would be a repeat of his struggles against the Giants last week and, if he does not play, the Eagles don’t have as good of an upside on offense, which limits their blowout potential, key to betting them as 7-point favorites.

The best case scenario from a betting perspective would be Hurts being ruled out, rather than playing at less than 100%, and then getting the opportunity to bet on the Gardner Minshew led Eagles with hopefully a better number. Minshew is a capable starter who could cover a 4-6 point spread against a terrible Jets team with some relative ease, but that is the only scenario that doesn’t seem too risky to bet right now. For now, I am taking the Eagles for pick ‘em purposes only, but I will probably have an update before gametime.

Update: Hurts is out for the Eagles, so Gardner Minshew will start and, as a result, this line has dropped to 4.5. This is exactly what I was hoping for, as the Eagles have a significant talent edge in this game, but I don’t want to bet on an injured quarterback. Going from Hurts to Minshew is about 2.5 points in difference, but my calculated line still has the Eagles favored by 8.5 points in this game, as the Jets are one of the worst teams in the league and the Eagles have mostly blown out terrible teams this season. Even with Minshew, a low-end starting quarterback, they should win with ease over the Jets, so they are worth a bet.

Philadelphia Eagles 24 New York Jets 16

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -4.5

Confidence: Medium

New York Jets at Houston Texans: 2021 Week 12 NFL Pick

New York Jets (2-8) at Houston Texans (2-8)

The Texans won last week in upset fashion, going into Tennessee and knocking off the previously 8-2 Titans, who were favored by 10 points in that game. However, the Titans have not been as good as their record has suggested this season and they have been even worse than that since losing feature back Derrick Henry, so that win isn’t as impressive as it seems, especially since the primary reason the Texans won is they managed to win the turnover battle by 5, in a 9-point Texans win. Turnover margin is highly non-predictive on a week-to-week basis, so the Texans definitely won’t be able to count on that every week and, in more predictive metrics, the Texans lost the first down rate battle by 9.47% and the yards per play battle by 2.2 yards per play.

That was also the Texans first win since back in week one, when they beat a Jaguars team that has proven to also be one of the worst in the league. In between, the Texans lost 8 straight games, with the average margin of defeat coming by 18.3 points per game. Even that doesn’t show quite how bad the Texans were during that stretch, as that average margin of defeat would be a lot higher if the Patriots weren’t missing most of their offensive line in their 3-point win, a game in which the Patriots still won the first down rate battle by 8.67%, and if the Texans hadn’t scored 22 meaningless garbage points against the Rams in a game in which they were down 38-0 going into the 4th quarter.

Even with last week’s win, the Texans still rank 32nd, 31st, and 24th in offensive, defensive, and special teams efficiency, adjusted for schedule, and, in terms of mixed efficiency, the Texans don’t just rank dead last in the NFL, but they are about 4.5 points than any other team in the league. Their win last week also puts them in a bad spot, as teams tend to struggle the week after pulling a huge upset, covering the spread at a 41.7% rate all-time after a win as double digits underdogs, including 40.3% after a win as divisional double digit underdogs. 

That effect could be even more pronounced in this game, as the Texans’ season is still lost at this point and last week’s win over the Titans was the equivalent of the Texans’ Super Bowl. It’s hard to imagine them giving anywhere near that level of effort this week against a fellow 2-8 team in the Jets. The Jets are also one of the worst teams in the league, but their mixed efficiency, which ranks 29th in the league, is still about six points better than the Texans.

The Texans did get a boost a couple weeks ago when veteran starting quarterback returned from injury and replaced overmatched rookie Davis Mills under center, so the gap between these two teams isn’t quite as big as their mixed efficiency rankings show, but Taylor is still a borderline starting caliber quarterback at best, so it’s not enough of a boost to justify the Texans being favored by 2.5 points in this matchup, especially given that they figure to be flat. My calculated line has the Jets favored by 1 point, even before taking into account that the Texans are in a bad spot. I would need a full field goal to bet on the Jets confidently against the spread, but the money line at +120 is a good value, as the Jets should be considered no worse than 50/50 to win this game, and the Jets are still the pick for pick ‘em purposes.

Update: This line has moved up to a field goal on Sunday morning. This is likely because Corey Davis was ruled out for the Jets, but I made this pick and this calculated line (Jets -1) with that in mind. The Texans don’t deserve to be favored by a field goal over anyone, even before you take into account that they could be flat after winning their “Super Bowl” last week. I know the Texans beat a same caliber Jaguars team week one at home with Tyrod Taylor under center, but the Texans’ offensive line was a lot healthier in that game with their two talented offensive tackles Laremy Tunsil and Marcus Cannon. Without them, the Texans have struggled to block anyone. If you can get the full field goal, I would recommend a small bet.

New York Jets 23 Houston Texans 20 Upset Pick +130

Pick against the spread: NY Jets +3

Confidence: Medium

Miami Dolphins at New York Jets: 2021 Week 11 NFL Pick

Miami Dolphins (3-6) at New York Jets (2-7)

One thing I like to do is go against significant week-to-week line movements as, barring injuries, they tend to be an overreaction to a single week of play. This game is a great example. A week ago, the Jets were favored by a couple points on the early line, but the Dolphins pulled an upset over the Ravens on Thursday Night Football, while the Jets were blown out in Buffalo and now the Jets are 3.5-point home underdogs, without any significant injury developments on either side.

The Dolphins’ win over the Ravens is much less impressive when you take into account that the Ravens were coming off of an overtime game and playing a Thursday game, a spot in which teams only cover the spread at a 16.0% rate, while the Jets’ 28-point loss to the Bills isn’t as bad when you take into account that all six of the Bills wins have come by 15 points or more (with an average margin of victory of 26.2 points) and that the Bills are one of the top few teams in the league. 

The Jets are just 2-7, but the Dolphins have just one more win and, aside from last week’s fluky win over the Ravens, their other two wins have come in a one-score win over the Texans, one of the worst teams in the league, and by one-point over the Patriots week one in a game in which the Patriots won the first down rate and yards per play battle, but lost a pair of fumbles, including one in easy field goal range that could have won the game. 

The Dolphins were 10-6 a year ago, but a dropoff always seemed inevitable, as they faced a very easy schedule and they benefited from an unsustainably high turnover margin (+11), opponent’s field goal percentage (3rd lowest at 73.91%), and 3rd/4th down conversion rate allowed (33.02%), which was actually lower than the 34.07% conversion rate they allowed on 1st/2nd down (4th highest in the NFL). They were always likely to disappoint this season and it’s not surprising they have done so in such a big way.

Even with last week’s win over the Ravens taken into account, the Dolphins rank just 30th, 24th, and 25th in schedule adjusted offensive, defensive, and special teams efficiency and probably shouldn’t be favored by more than a field goal on the road against anyone, except maybe the Texans. The Jets also are likely getting an upgrade at quarterback with veteran Joe Flacco taking over for inexperienced former undrafted free agent Mike White. My calculated line is still about where this line was last week, favoring the Jets by 1.5 points.

On top of that, the Dolphins are also in a bad spot as a result of last week’s win, as teams cover the spread at just a 40.9% rate all-time after winning as home underdogs of 5 points or more, which applies to the Dolphins, who were 7.5-point home underdogs last week. Part of that is because teams tend to be overvalued after a big home win that could easily prove to be a fluke, which I’ve already covered, but teams could also be overconfident in this spot as well.

It would not be a surprise to see the Dolphins look past the Jets, who, by contrast, are coming off of a blowout loss and will want to play their hardest to avoid further embarrassment. With about 1 out of every 4 games decided by 3 points or fewer, we’re getting great line value with the Jets at +3.5 and, between that and the Jets being in a good spot, this is worth a big play, both against the spread and on the money line.

New York Jets 23 Miami Dolphins 20 Upset Pick +150

Pick against the spread: NY Jets +3.5

Confidence: High

Buffalo Bills at New York Jets: 2021 Week 10 NFL Pick

Buffalo Bills (5-3) at New York Jets (2-6)

It’s tough to know what to make of the Bills this season, as a result, this is a tough game to pick against the spread. The Bills rank 2nd in the NFL with a +117 point differential and all three of their losses have come by one score, but they have also faced the easiest schedule in the league. Their five wins have come against teams who are a combined 14-32 and last week they lost to a Jaguars team that had just one win on the season prior. Despite that loss last week, this line has not shifted at all from favoring the Bills by 13 on the early line last week. The Bills have still blown out most of the weak opponents they have faced and they should do so again here, but we’re not getting any line value either way with this game, as Buffalo -13 is right where my calculated line is. I’m taking the Bills for pick ‘em purposes, but this is close to a coin flip.

Buffalo Bills 27 New York Jets 13

Pick against the spread: Buffalo -13

Confidence: None