The New York Jets: The Fortress of Saleh-tude

The Jets finished the 2021 season 2-14 due to their leaky defense and poor performance from QB Sam Darnold. They performed so badly that many speculated that they were tanking intentionally, which is not true – they were just incredibly bad. Luckily for the Jets, they have nine draft picks this year. They will receive the second overall pick. Now, they have two possible plans of action – both involving Darnold’s departure. 

The first option is to trade a few of their picks to the Houston Texans in exchange for budding quarterback Deshaun Watson, a Pro-bowl talent at age 25. In my opinion, this would be a smart move as it would immediately strengthen the position and lure in other free agents such as wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chris Godwin, or Kenny Golladay. 

The second option is to use the valuable picks themselves and continue drafting young talent. The obvious choice would be selecting Ohio State’s QB Justin Fields with their second overall pick. A contender for the Heisman in 2019, Fields would be the likely first pick without the presence of Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The Jets’ other pick in the first round (which they received from Seattle in the Jamal Adams trade) and their 33rd overall pick should be used to acquire a defensive back and a running back or wide receiver. Depending on who the Jets management determines is the best choice on draft night, the Jets pick could be used to select Clemson RB Travis Etienne, Ohio State WR Chris Olave, Purdue WR Rondale Moore, or Alabama RB Najee Harris. On defense, they could pick up Clemson CB Derion Kendrick, Ohio State CB Shaun Wade, or Georgia CB Eric Stokes. They should grab some other players to fill gaps in the later rounds, preferably some linemen, offensive or defensive. 

Still, I do not expect the Jets to reach the playoffs. I predict they will finish around 5-11. They may use an early pick in the 2022 draft to select a player in an offensive position that they did not bolster this year. Under new coach Robert Saleh, Fields, Watson, and a revamped offense, the Jets will have a solid offensive squad to tear through defenses. The chosen defensive backs may fill the holes in the Jets’ pumice-like defense, alongside young talents such as Quinnen Williams and Marcus Maye. As Fields, Watson, and company progress, in a few years, I can see them competing with the Buffalo Bills for the AFC East title, considering that other competition will be scarce.

 Optimistically, other AFC East teams such as the Patriots and Dolphins will not pose a threat at that point. The Patriots will enter rebuild mode in a few years, and the Dolphins Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s stay in Miami does not seem long-lasting. I think you can expect a Jets playoff appearance around the year 2023 or 2024.

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