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NFL

Jets 2022 NFL season preview: New York to be AFC surprise package?

As the New York Jets bid to return to the NFL Playoffs, the franchise has spent the offseason bolstering the weapons at quarterback Zach Wilson’s disposal.

Update:
¿Por qué los Jets pueden ser la gran sorpresa en la AFC?
Rich SchultzGetty

Zach Wilson doesn’t have to be the next Joe Namath. Not for the moment. It will be enough if he can replicate what Mark Sanchez did.

Jets haven’t been to Playoffs in over a decade

Sanchez is the last quarterback who managed to lead the New York Jets to the Playoffs, in 2010 - and, ahead of his second year as a starting quarterback in the NFL, the expectation is on Wilson to ensure his franchise ends that postseason drought.

In 13 games, the second overall pick in the 2021 Draft completed just 55.6% of his passes, throwing for just nine touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 3-10 record.

Wilson, however, showed his athleticism in a 52-yard rush to the end zone against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 16, becoming only the fourth rookie quarterback since 1950 with a touchdown run of at least 50 yards.

Jets bring in new options at wide receiver, tight end

Jets general manager Joe Douglas spent the offseason adding to, and upgrading, the weapons at Wilson’s disposal: he recruited wide receiver Garrett Wilson in the first round of the 2022 Draft and signed tight ends C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin.

Garrett Wilson joins the Jets’ young wide receiver corps, led by Elijah Moore (second round, 2021 Draft), who led the team last season with five touchdowns.

The backfield will also have new faces with second-round pick Breece Hall, who will share duties with Michael Carter.

Carter (964 yards) and Moore (592) were one of two pairs of rookies with at least 500 combined yards in the NFL last season.

Defence also boosted by new recruits

Robert Saleh came to New York with a reputation for building a solid defence in San Francisco, but in his first year as the Jets’ head coach, the disappointment was huge as the team finished bottom of the major defensive categories, including total yards and points per game.

Douglas has also bolstered the team defensively, bringing in rookies Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner and Jermaine Johnson, in addition to free-agent signings D.J. Reed, Jordan Whitehead, Jacob Martin and Solomon Thomas.

Gardner is the kind of cornerback that Saleh likes for playing man-to-man defence; he’ll line up on the other side to Reed and next to safety Whitehead on the Jets’ revamped perimeter.

With the return of Carl Lawson - who impressed in training last year and then tore knee ligaments in the offseason - the Jets’ front line looks promising, with rookie Jermaine Johnson and veterans Quinnen Williams and John Franklin-Myers, the team’s co-leaders in 2021 with six sacks each.

The Jets have a brutal schedule, particularly in the first nine weeks before their bye week: they have to face Baltimore, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Miami, Green Bay, Denver, New England and Buffalo.

Will they be able to compete with some of the best teams in the NFL? That will depend on Zach Wilson and how quickly the new pieces fit together on both sides of the ball.

Don’t count the Jets out as one of the surprise packages in the AFC in the 2022 season.

New York Jets

Record in 2021: 4-13

Stadium: MetLife Stadium

Super Bowl titles: 1

Head coach: Robert Saleh

Offensive coordinator: Mike LaFleur

Defensive coordinator: Jeff Ulbrich

New York Jets’ 2022 NFL season schedule:

Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4Week 5
Baltimoreat ClevelandCincinnatiat PittsburghMiami
Week 6Week 7Week 8Week 9Week 10
at Green Bayat DenverNew EnglandBuffaloBYE
Week 11Week 12Week 13Week 14Week 15
at New EnglandChicagoat Minnesotaat BuffaloDetroit
Week 16Week 17Week 18
Jacksonvilleat Seattleat Miami

See also: How the NFL teams got their names - AFC:

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