At 6-3, the New York Jets are one of the NFL’s most surprising teams heading into the second half of the season.
Like any upstart franchise though, the Jets are not a perfect football team. Injuries to their offensive line, questions surrounding their quarterback, and the viability of a top defense are all keys that separate the playoffs from the team currently.
New York has the ability to gain ground in a tough AFC East while not even playing a game on Sunday. But there are still questions the team will need to answer the following week.
Here are five questions the Jets need to answer after the bye.
1. Just how strong is this Jets culture?
It’s never nice to compare cultures around the NFL, especially cultures that are producing results. But the Jets have a lot in common with their fellow New Jersey brethren: the New York Giants.
Both teams are in a major culture change that is moving a lot faster than people expected. While the Giants’ 6-2 record is one to marvel at, they also lost a captain of their defense to an injury during the bye week. Instead of preparing for the second half of the season, Xavier McKinney was in Cabo, had a freak accident, and will be out a minimum of four weeks due to the accident.
The Giants culture has taken many positive steps but the latest news dump is one that shows the same-old Giants are there somewhere. The Jets need to be better than that and actually take the time during the bye week to improve on their game and not have anyone get hurt.
2. How much more can Zach Wilson improve this year?
There are times when Zach Wilson looks greatly improved, and there are times when not even the Jets know what they have at quarterback. This is natural for a quarterback in his second season and is a good teaching tool for off-season work.
Wilson took major steps in the team’s 20-17 upset win over the Bills Sunday. A matchup against Bill Belichick’s defense will be another chance for Wilson to show his continued improvements.
3. How good is this Jets defense?
The Jets have one of the most complete defenses in the NFL to date. A dominant pass rush, excellent linebackers, and a secondary with the swagger needed at the position. Statistically, New York’s defense is a top-10 unit.
Just how good can this group be this year though? Upcoming games against the Vikings, Bears, Bills, and Seahawks will surely put the young core to the test. As good as they have been to start the season, we’ll see just how good this group can be later in the year.
4. Can they solve the Belichick curse?
The New England Patriots have owned the Jets since Bill Belichick scorned them over 20 years ago. New York has gotten even at key moments, but nothing compares to the level of domination the Patriots have inflicted.
After the bye week, New York takes on those same Patriots in Foxboro with a chance to break even on the season. A 7-3 mark will be a lot different than 6-4 in a loaded AFC playoff picture. The Patriots’ defense is immensely talented and the offense is good enough to win football games.
If the Jets are truly for real, they will need to win in two weeks.
5. Can the OL continue to survive?
Arguably the one position group that has been truly ravaged by injury has been the offensive line. The Jets’ group has lost two of the original five starters for the season.
The team has done an excellent job of making that not matter, but all the same, the second-half schedule is very unforgiving for New York. If the offensive line survives, for the most part, New York is probably heading to the playoffs.
If not, then a collapse is brewing that can be seen miles away.