A very apt description for a season that featured stunning wins (Tennessee Titans, Cincinnati Bengals) and startling defeats.
With the clock officially having struck midnight, the records for all the non-playoff teams will reset to 0-0 as fans have hope for the future.
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Time to Look Things Over and Reminisce
1. Okay the 2021 season is officially in the books, what is your final takeaway on this season?
My takeaway is that there’s still more work to be done. This roster looked much improved on paper last spring but after injuries and the pandemic knocked it down a few pegs, the organizational depth proved to be lacking.
The win total was lower than anticipated but overall, the season went as expected for the most part. Lots of growing pains from the youngest roster in the NFL and a rookie coaching staff, but also lots of positives to look forward to. Most importantly: Zach Wilson is an NFL starter, I’m confident in saying that.
This 2021 draft class produced five day-one starters in total and a few more promising pieces with potential. That’s a bright spot. A large amount of draft capital and cap space is another bright spot.
At the end of the day though, 2022 has to be the year this franchise finally flips the script. Otherwise, this fanbase may lose all faith in the new regime.
This thing is headed in the right direction. I know the record stinks at 4-13, but I saw enough progress and development to believe this thing has a chance to really pop in 2022.
This is one of the most encouraging draft classes for the Jets in a very long time. So many starters and big-time playmakers, it is legitimately time to get excited.
On the same token, this is a critical offseason and the green and white have to hit on their picks and sign the right guys in free agency. If they’re able to meticulously move through this minefield, the world is their oyster.
My other big takeaway is the Jets have their guy at quarterback. That was ultimately what this season was all about Wilson’s development and progression. Not only did we see that, but he showed a level of moxie that makes me sleep a little easier at night.
2. A theme in Robert Saleh’s final presser was ‘closing the gap’ in the AFC East, realistically how big of a jump can the Jets make in this division next year?
You can always make a big jump in the NFL, you just have to nail the offseason. In terms of the AFC East, two teams could see a sharp regression.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Miami Dolphins rank second in the league in offensive wins-above-replacement (WAR) for their impending free agents. They rank eighth in WAR for their defensive free agents. The New England Patriots are in a similar boat after spending big last year, ranking first in terms of impending free-agent WAR on the defensive side. They only rank 16th on offense though.
As always, the Jets will also have the easiest schedule being that they finished in last. That may not relate to beating AFC East teams but it should help with their overall record in comparison.
On paper, it seems like pretty tough sledding with two of the four teams in the playoffs (Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots) and one just barely missing it (Miami Dolphins).
Some of the analytics MO mentions are interesting, but I’ll continue the glass is half full approach. With the right combination of the Jets rising and everyone else falling I think they can be in that second place conversation and the occasional flirting with the top.
That sounds crazy I know, especially since the Jets have lost their last 12 AFC East divisional games in a row (and no that isn’t a typo as much as we all want it to be). To take the next step they have to take a leap in their own division. If they can’t beat those guys, who can they beat?
3. On a scale of 1-10 how confident do you feel in Zach Wilson as we head into the offseason and year No. 2 with him?
As I said in question one, I’m extremely confident in Wilson as the face of the franchise. This kid has the exact make-up and mindset that you want in an NFL QB. Loved his quote about getting right back to work over the offseason.
He also has all the talent in the world. His arm strength is a 12 out of 10, his escapability an 8, and the biggest improvement has been his turnover rate with no interceptions in his final five games. That shows a willingness to change and adapt his game, something many prospects never do. Sure, his short-ball accuracy still needs some work but it has shown progress and that honestly does not concern me long-term.
I would never say 10 but this is the most confident I’ve felt about a Jets quarterback prospect probably ever. I’ll give it a solid 8.
How can it not be an 8.5 to a 9 on the scale? Wilson has completely changed the narrative and after being loosey-goosey with the ball in the first half of the season, the former BYU stud has been dynamite.
Has he been perfect? Heavens no: inconsistent passes and sometimes tries to do too much. With that being said over the last six-plus games he just looks like he belongs and that isn’t quantifiable by any stat, Wilson just passes the eye test.
With an infusion of talent inevitably coming this offseason, I think this 22-year-old has a chance to make a quantum leap next season.
4. This was your first season covering the team for Heavy, can you share a favorite story you wrote and/or something you learned on the beat?
We’re really aging ourselves in this response (at one) but it’s been an honor and a privilege to cover the Jets professionally for an entire season. I hope our followers and readers have enjoyed our work and we’ll keep getting better just like all the NYJ rookies!
It didn’t turn out very well for the Jets but my favorite story was based on a Nathan Shepherd quote about the defensive line resembling the Avengers. I’m a huge Marvel fan so this presser from Shep opened a world of possibilities for my inner comic book junkie. Basically, I comped every major Jets D-lineman to an Avenger as a fun summer piece and it’s probably still my favorite article to date.
Man, I learned a million different things. Like how Jets fans can be ruthless when they disagree haha (but I love that passion, it keeps me on my toes), or just how much of themselves head coaches put into this job following Robert Saleh since day one. I’ve also learned more intricate details about this team than I ever knew was possible as a younger fan of the franchise. Mainly, I’d say I’ve learned to find my voice as a reporter and I’ll continue to do everything in my power to remain consistent in maintaining and upholding it.
I have had the great honor and pleasure to cover this team for the better part of a decade for a variety of platforms and outlets, but I’m coming up on my one-year anniversary here with Heavy and I couldn’t be happier.
I have found a great home and a community among fellow Jets fans.
This is the greatest job in the world and there isn’t a day that goes by that I take it for granted. In terms of storytelling? It’s funny from a columnist perspective rarely do my favorite stories ever hit it big from a viewership standpoint. It is often the speculation ones that do the best, go figure.
Although the one I’m most proud of and poured the most into is my CJ Henderson trade article. After working in sports talk radio and doing my own work as a reporter I have built a rolodex of people in the NFL that I have developed relationships with at every level from players, to coaches, to league executives.
For this piece, I had the opportunity to get on the phone with some important people to discuss what trades would make sense if they evaluated the Jets’ roster and the Jacksonville Jaguars’ needs at the time. It came out really well and was such a unique experience and provided fans an insider look.
Mock Draft Monday!
5. Mock Draft Monday: the Jets will have the No. 4 and the No. 10 overall picks in the first round, either mock two players to them or highlight two players that could make sense at both spots?
I’ll mock two. At this point, we all know the major prospects so I’ll do this the only way I know how, by making all 10 selections.
- 1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama. Potential trade down to No. 3 here but I feel they need a true franchise left tackle for Trevor Lawrence.
- 2. Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan. Projected number one pick by most.
- 3. Houston Texans: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon. Could trade up to No. 1 and steal Hutchinson from Detroit.
- 4. Jets: TRADE. If I’m Douglas, I trade back here with a team looking at quarterback Matt Corral or even cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. I just don’t think there are many ‘elite’ prospects besides the three above, while there are plenty of ‘great’ ones. I think they trade down, pick up an asset, and land a stud: I’ll go with a shocker. Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama. I no longer see the Jets spending this pick on the secondary based on Douglas and Saleh’s track record. Playmakers are the new way of the modern NFL and the past five games have shown the Jets still need more. Williams’ speed alongside Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, and Braxton Berrios (re-sign) could prove deadly for opposing defenses.
- 5. NY Giants: David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan. Big Blue could reinvigorate their pass rush with this athletic beast.
- 6. Carolina: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss. Quarterbacks always rise in the draft and Carolina still needs one. Potential trade partner for NYJ.
- 7. NY Giants: Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa. Top-10 centers are rare but the G-Men bite the bullet on the can’t miss prospect because of their terrible O-line.
- 8. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame. Would fit nicely in their rebuilding secondary.
- 9. Denver Broncos: TRADE DOWN. Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah. Broncos need a linebacker but this is a bit high for one, I could see them trading down and drafting Lloyd who is used to playing in similar altitude.
- 10. Jets: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU?? Is it possible Stingley falls this low? We saw it last year with Patrick Surtain to Denver and none of the top-10 franchises really need a corner after Douglas picks at four. If he does, I think you have to draft him but let’s assume somebody trades up into the top 10 to get him at No. 9. Then I would go with George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue. I wrote about him recently, so everything you need to know is in this article.
I like the chutzpah Michael, but I’ll save the mock drafting to that level for my YouTube channel (shameless plug): every Monday from January 10 through the 2022 NFL draft we’ll be speaking with a different top-flight draft guest to talk about the latest Jets draft conversations and do some fun Gang Green mock drafts.
If you’d like you can follow the link here and hit the subscribe button so you never miss an episode!
Now back to the point, I’ll go a bit more informal here, there are several key positions the Jets should hone in on at the top of the draft: EDGE rusher, offensive line, and wide receiver. Another possibility is cornerback, depending on where they sit considering potential trade backs.
Jets Land Dangerous Playmaker in Trade Back Scenario, Close Gap in AFC East