The goal for the Jets entering this offseason was to build around quarterback Zach Wilson.
Last year’s No. 2 needed help. He needed the playmakers and protection his predecessor Sam Darnold never had. He needed a defense that could bring the ball back to him and not give up 54 points in one game.
Now that the heavy lifting of free agency roster building and the draft are over, it looks like general manager Joe Douglas has accomplished what he set out to do.
The Jets roster has no more holes than a bad script. The Jets have legitimate options at wide receiver, running back and tight end. The offensive line looks solid, if not spectacular. The defense should be able to sway the opposing quarterback and make plays on the football, which was rare this past season.
The pressure would be on Wilson this season no matter what the Jets did or didn’t do this offseason. That comes with the job description. But the excuse Jets quarterbacks had for most of the last decade is gone. No one can say the Jets aren’t giving Wilson a chance.
Now it’s up to Wilson to take the next step.
No one is saying he has to be a Pro Bowler this year, but he has to show progress from his rookie season. The Jets must know he is their franchise quarterback by the end of the sophomore year and have no doubts.
Just look at what Douglas has surrounded him with. He has a legitimate NFL wide receiving corps with Garrett Wilson, Elijah Moore and Corey Davis. He has a two-headed monster running back with Michael Carter and Breece Hall. He’s targeting good tight ends in CJ Uzomah, Tyler Conkiln and Jeremy Ruckert.
It should be noted that this is a very young group. Jets fans are excited about the team’s draft prowess, and rightly so, but not every rookie will be ready to contribute on Day 1. Keep in mind that Moore and Carter didn’t really get going until mid-season last year. This group may take a few years to reach their full potential. If the Jets were newborns last year, they’re toddlers now. They learned to crawl. Now it’s time to go. Someday they will be able to walk.
Even factoring in youth, this is the best offense the Jets have had on paper since 2016. There aren’t studs in every position, but there aren’t any obvious holes either. The offensive line has tremendous potential as Pro Bowler Laken Tomlinson joins a group that has improved over the past year and will have a healthy Mekhi Becton back. People seem to forget how promising Becton was as a rookie. If he can stay on the field he will be a key figure.
On defense, the Jets will no longer just be crossing their fingers. The defensive line looks strong with Carl Lawson returning from his Achilles injury, Quinnen Williams, Sheldon Rankins and John Frankiln-Myers back and Jermaine Johnson II added to the group. The secondary is better with the additions of Sauce Gardner, DJ Reed and Jordan Whitehead.
This won’t be a top 10 defense, but they shouldn’t be ranked #32 like last year either.
“I feel like we added some really good plays on offense and two really good plays on defense as well,” Douglas said after the third round of the draft, “to make sure we protect him on the line of scrimmage and quality add tight ends, good skills, good backs. I feel like we’re trying to build a strong, balanced team. Not just offensive, but a team player.”
The biggest question mark now is how Wilson will play. Will he look like he did in his first eight games last year, when he had 11 interceptions, or in the last five games when he didn’t have any? Can he combine his playmaking skills with the intelligence to sometimes pull off a simple throw?
Douglas and the Jets had plenty of wins this spring. It’s up to Wilson to make sure it stays that way through fall and winter.
https://nypost.com/2022/05/01/pressures-on-zach-wilson-now-after-jets-2022-nfl-draft/ Zach Wilson is now under pressure after the Jets’ 2022 NFL Draft