After a promising 6-3 start to the season, the New York Jets have been eliminated from playoff contention for the 10th straight season. The more things change the more things stay the same.
The team’s season-defining 23-6 loss to Seattle on Sunday continued the longest playoff drought in football and has led to fingers being pointed by many analysts, fans, and media members across the globe.
Yet while it’s understandable to see a one promising season fall flat, the Jets showed more promise than their fans are even giving them. And while there will be much to fix within the front office, coaching staff, and roster, there is far less to fix than in recent years.
That alone is progress.
Here is a guide to how the Jets can ultimately fix their playoff woes and end their playoff drought as quickly as possible.
1. Find a Quarterback
Duh. The lone reason the Jets failed to make the postseason this year is because of their quarterback. Whether it was Mike White, Zach Wilson, or Joe Flacco, New York’s playoff hopes died because they couldn’t win through the air consistently enough.
The good news is that their problem can be easily remedied.
New York is set to go into the 2023 offseason with about $15 million in cap space but has plenty of options to restructure and create more if they need to. That would line them up perfectly to go after the crop of free-agent quarterbacks that are potentially on their way to the open market.
Derek Carr, Jimmy Garappolo, Daniel Jones, and a plethora of other quarterbacks will be available to negotiate long-term deals.
Any of the top quarterback options in free agency would be a major upgrade for the Jets going into the new season. That’s how bad the quarterback position has been in 2022, and how good the overall Jets roster is at this point.
New York’s quarterback problems kept them out of the playoffs in 2022. The fastest way to end their playoff drought is to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
2. Continue strong draft record
New York’s 2022 draft class is one of the best in recent memory for the franchise. Garrett Wilson, Jermaine Johnson, and Sauce Gardner have all been first-round hits for Joe Douglas.
Breece Hall (before injury), Max Mitchell, Michael Clemons, and Jeremy Ruckert have all produced in spurts as well.
As good a job as Douglas did in the 2022 draft, his recent draft classes aren’t working out so swimmingly. The Jets missing on Zach Wilson is a major blemish that won’t come off the team’s record when other quarterbacks of his class like Justin Fields and Mac Jones have either had regular season success or are turning the corner in their play.
Wilson did neither. And the team’s inability to develop him is both a blessing and a curse depending on how you look at it. When the Jets drafted Wilson, New York was believed to be multiple years away from truly contending for a playoff spot. By that metric, they could count on Wilson’s struggles through the early years.
Except the team grew far faster than Wilson and it’s led to New York being in playoff mode. The team’s success this season means they have failed to, again, draft another quarterback with a top-five pick, but it also means they are very close to their goals.
The 2023 draft will be a big one for Joe Douglas and the Jets.
3. Solidify the Offensive Line
Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas have done an excellent job in building a Jets defensive unit that is one of the best in football. On offense, there’s enough talent along the skill positions that they are a quarterback away from truly contending.
There is one other position group that didn’t live up to their billing though in 2022 and it wasn’t entirely their fault.
The Jets’ offensive line was ravaged by injuries throughout the season. Duane Brown, George Fant, Mekhi Becton, and Alijah Vera-Tucker have all sustained key injuries throughout the season that hurt whoever was playing quarterback.
Injuries are a big part of any team’s season though, and how franchises handle them is a big swing between the great and mediocre teams in football.
New York will need to find better depth pieces for their penciled-in starters and try and find a combination that can not only just stay healthy but dominate at the point of attack that any new quarterback will be able to succeed.
Hope on the Horizon
The 2022 New York Jets may have failed down the stretch to reach the postseason, but they have been given solid answers about many key faces within the organization.
At 7-9, New York will finish below .500 again, but their quality of play has greatly improved in Robert Saleh’s second year at the helm.
Results will ultimately decide if the Jets have the right coach in year three, but they can at least go into the offseason knowing that there is very little that needs to change to end their decade-long playoff drought.