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AFC East Preview – New York Jets

Jets Season Preview

AFC East Preview – New York Jets

The 2022 Jets were the poster child for what it looks like to be a quarterback away. A great rookie draft class helped transform a mundane franchise into a young, exciting squad. And with the addition of Aaron Rodgers, this team can no longer be considered a quarterback away in 2023. This Jets season preview will assess whether the addition of Rodgers can push this group into Superbowl contender status.

Draft Analysis: C+

If the picks that the Jets gave up for Rodgers were considered here this grade would jump to an A+. Rules are rules though, so only the players actually selected in the draft warrant consideration here. The Jets were able to add a few pieces in the early rounds starting with first-round edge rusher Will McDonald IV. McDonald is undersized and typically won with blazing speed off the edge in college. The risk is that he only turns into a rotational rusher in the mold of fellow Jet, Carl Lawson. The upside might be worth the risk, however, given his size and lack of pass-rush moves there is real bust potential here.

In the second round, the Jets shored up the interior of their offensive line by taking best-in-class center Joe Tippmann. Tippmann is an extremely safe prospect that likely won’t become an All-Pro but should earn a second contract in the league. The Jets added Carter Warren in the fourth, who has some starter traits at tackle and adds much-needed depth. This draft will ultimately be judged on how McDonald develops, but shoring up the offensive line around Rodgers was a huge win for a team trying to contend immediately.

Season Outlook: 11-6 (Wild Card)


There may not be a bigger leap in the past decade than going from Zach Wilson to Aaron Rodgers at quarterback in a single off-season. There are plenty of doubters who are looking at Rodgers’ numbers from this past season, coupled with his age, and are screaming that he is in full decline. As a reminder, the last time pundits doubted an aging Rodgers, he reeled off two consecutive MVP seasons. Rodgers is definitely motivated and has a stronger support system than he has had in years. Nobody should bet against him to make another MVP run in 2023.


Rodgers also has some top-end weaponry at his disposal. Garrett Wilson looks like a younger Antonio Brown coming in and out of his breaks and is a wizard with the ball in his hands. He could be a sleeper candidate to win offensive player of the year with Rodgers distributing the ball. It will be interesting to see if Corey Davis or Mecole Hardman can step into the #2 role in the passing game next to Wilson. Allen Lazard is a decent role player but can’t be counted on for consistent #2 production. Add reliable safety blankets Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah at tight end, and this is a complete, deep receiving group.

The offensive unit that needed the most help on paper was the offensive line going into the off-season. The Jets added a ton of depth through the draft and signed Conner McGovern from Dallas to keep Rodgers upright. If Alijah Vera-Tucker and Mekhi Becton can come back healthy, this unit may end up surprisingly being one of the top lines in the league. The improved line play should also benefit running back Breece Hall in his return from injury. Hall showed a do-it-all skillset early in the year and should be a serviceable starter if healthy.


The Jets defense made waves last season with the breakout play of Quinnen Williams and rookie superstar Sauce Gardner. The front seven is very reliant on Williams reporting to camp and continuing the dominance he showed a season ago. Perhaps second-year defensive end Jermaine Johnson could be next in line to breakout, with the expectation that he pushes ahead of middling incumbents John Franklin-Myers and Carl Lawson at one of the edge spots. Veteran mike linebacker C.J. Mosley returned to form to give the unit a competent leader. However, Mosley is aging and the rest of the linebacking corps is relatively unproven and lacks depth.

The secondary took a marginal hit with the news that Chuck Clark will miss the season with an ACL tear. While unfortunate for Clark, the impact on the Jets could be a little overstated given that free agent acquisition Jordan Whitehead graded as an equal in advanced metrics and had a slightly higher production level than Clark a season ago. Regardless, the real strength of this secondary will continue to be the play of Sauce Gardner on the outside. Gardner immediately launched himself into the exclusive lockdown corner conversation as a rookie. He has the ability to shut down any team’s best receiver and this secondary will go as he goes.

Overall, this defense has a lot more holes than one would expect given the production seen at times in 2022. Some of that production is also attributable to feasting on a generally weak quarterback schedule. The Jets will need a few young players to step up alongside their superstar duo to stay a truly elite defense. But at worst, this unit should at least be good enough to help Rodgers and Co stay in games in case they need some time to gel offensively.

Post Schedule Release Prediction: 12-5 (2 Seed)

The Jets have a very fun schedule, which will showcase Rodgers in primetime early and often. In this scenario, the Jets ended up tied with the Bills atop the AFC East, which sounds very realistic. That makes the Week 1 showdown between the two teams even more impactful. The winner of that game (Jets in this scenario) will have a big leg up in what should be a fascinating division to watch.

**The post-schedule release prediction is based on a single simulation, with each game on the schedule picked only once. Difficult schedules to begin a season tend to lead to higher deviations between the season outlook and simulation results. Take a hypothetical team projected to have a season outlook of 8-9. If that team projects to start 1-5 due to a brutal opening stretch, it can derail their whole season. Coaches on losing teams tend to lose locker rooms faster and players on those teams tend to lose motivation. Teams that play an underachieving team later in a season, would likewise get a boost in their win rate.

Main Photo: Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports


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