New York Jets 2021 Preview

The Jets last made the postseason in 2010 and saw their last winning season in 2015. After stumbling the next three seasons, the team appeared on an upward swing after a 7-9 mark in 2019. Last season, the Jets faltered to an abysmal 2-14 record, prompting yet another rebuild. They have a new head coach in Robert Saleh, the third since the franchise parted ways with Rex Ryan after the 2014 season.

There is a new quarterback in town following the drafting of Zach Wilson second overall. He will try to do what the likes of Geno Smith, Christian Hackenberg and Sam Darnold could not. The next two seasons will be pivotal for general manager Joe Douglas, who needs to provide a solid supporting cast around Wilson. That is something he failed to do around Sam Darnold.

On the offensive side of the ball, everything the Jets do will be about Wilson. Despite having elite skills, he’s likely to have some rough times this season. Wilson doesn’t have great size and played a relatively weak schedule last season at BYU. However, he will enter a West Coast offense that he’s familiar with. The offensive line remains a question mark, particularly at right guard and right tackle. However, left guard should be solid with Alijah Vera-Tucker.

The receiving group is led by Corey Davis, who needs to emerge as a number one receiver and second-round pick Denzel Mims needs to prove he is a reliable starter as the number two receiver. Without two capable receivers, Wilson could be running for his life. Tight end Chris Herndon and receiver Elijah Moore could emerge as key components in the passing game. Wilson could get some help in the backfield from Tevin Coleman, over from the 49ers, and rookie La’Mical Perine.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Jets will move to a 4-3 after employing a 3-4 scheme last season. This should help with the pass rush, which has been an area of extreme weakness last season. The signing of defensive end Carl Lawson, teaming with Quinnen Williams should provide the Jets with the most powerful pass rush in recent memory.

A 4-3 system will give C.J. Mosley added room to maneuver and make plays from his middle linebacker position. Moseley opted out last season and played little in 2019, so this could be the year for Mosley to shine.

The defensive needs a boost in the secondary. Bryce Hall and Bless Austen are two relatively inexperienced late round draft picks over the past two seasons. They need to improve on the outside and the Jets have more issues at slot corner where fifth round chose Michael Carter II could fit in. At least the Jets have a very solid safety in Marcus Maye, who could have a great season entering a contract year.

The kicking game needs to improve over last year. Sam Ficken has hit barely over three-quarters of his field goal attempts and Chase McLaughlin was at the bottom of the league in yards per punt. Competition has been brought in for both positions. The Jets could have some firepower in the return game with Braxton Berrios and Corey Ballentine.

In general, there is little to believe that the long playoff drought will end this season. The Jets were 6-10 against the NFL point spread last season, which is solid considering a 2-14 overall mark. A last pace schedule will help and an added game to the schedule is another opportunity for a win. A six-win season would be an excellent step in the right direction. A third-place finish in the AFC East would be great achievement, but expect a last-place finish and another year before pushing for a playoff berth.