Robert Saleh was one of the most coveted head coaching prospects heading into the 2021 season and the New York Jets nabbed him. They made sure they got their guy and it was, without a doubt, the high point of the season. Because everything went downhill from there.

With the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and every quarterback except Trevor Lawrence still available to them, New York turned in the card with Zach Wilson’s name on it and he went on to have the worst season out of any of the rookie starters in the NFL. And that includes third rounder Davis Mills out of Stanford who landed with the hapless Houston Texans.

Now, my pick for the second best QB in that class was Justin Fields, but there’s no way to know if it would have made a difference as this roster was in such bad shape there was no realistic way Saleh could do much with it. Still, it’s New York and that market won’t settle for a loser, even one that hasn’t made the playoffs in 11 years.

Needless to say, the campaign went off the rails from the start. The team started 1-5, with their only victory coming in a shocking 27-24 upset in overtime over the Tennessee Titans. Win two would be even more surprising as they took out the eventual AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals 34-21 three weeks later. Their other two wins would come over the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars, ensuring that the Jags would once again claim the No. 1 overall pick. Even when the Jets won, they lost.

Wilson couldn’t even stay healthy all year, giving Mike White one epic start in that Bengals win that he, of course, never matched again. Wilson finished the year with a 55.6 completion percentage for 2,334 yards, nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He added four touchdowns on the ground. Michael Carter rushed for 639 yards and four touchdowns while hauling in 36 passes for 325 yards. Elijah Moore caught 43 passes for 538 yards and five touchdowns to lead the team.

The defense was the absolute worst in the league, finishing No. 32 in points allowed and yards allowed. Quinnen Williams and John Franklin-Meyers co-led the team with six sacks apiece. No other Jet had more than three.


Last season: 4-13

Odds: Over 5.5 wins (-160), 5.5 wins (+125)

2022 NFL Draft: Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati (Round 1), Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State (Round 1), Jermaine Johnson II, DE, Florida State (Round 1), Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State (Round 2), Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State (Round 3), Max Mitchell, OT, Louisiana (Round 4), Michael Clemons, DE, Texas A&M (Round 4)

2022 Additions: Laken Tomlinson, OG (free agent), DJ Reed, Safety (free agent), CJ Uzomah, TE (free agent), Tyler Conklin, TE (free agent), Duan Brown, LT (free agent), Jordan Whitehead, Safety (free agent), Jake Martin, OLB (free agent), Solomon Thomas, DT (free agent), Greg Zuerlein, Kicker (free agent), Kwon Alexander, ILB (free agent), Marcell Harris, Safety (free agent)

Projected Starters


QB: Zach Wilson

RB: Breece Hall

WR: Elijah Moore

WR: Corey Davis

WR: Garrett Wilson

TE: Tyler Conklin

FB: Nick Bawden

LT: Duan Brown

LG: Laken Tomlinson

C: Connor McGovern

RG: Alijah Vera-Tucker

RT: George Fant


LDE: Carl Lawson

LDT: Solomon Thomas

RDT: Quinnen Williams

RDE: John Franklin-Myers

WLB: Marcell Harris

MLB: CJ Mosley

SLB: Quincy Williams

CB: Sauce Gardner

CB: DJ Reed

SS: Jordan Whitehead

FS: Lamarcus Joyner

Special Teams

PK: Greg Zuerlein

P: Braden Mann

PR: Braxton Berrios

KR: Braxton Berrios


Of all the stupid ways to mess up your year before it even begins, getting your “franchise” quarterback hurt in the preseason is the dumbest and most preventable. Now, it’s not like Zach Wilson didn’t need the work. But he should have been getting that in practice and not put in harm’s way against a bunch of other scrub players just trying to scrape their way onto a roster.

Wilson won’t be out for the season, but he missed the entirety of the preseason and is, as of this writing, questionable for the opener. The Jets do have a solid back up in Joe Flacco who, in an open competition, would eat Wilson’s lunch and pop the bag in his face. But that’s not what New York wants. They want the second QB they’ve taken in the Top Three of the draft over the last six years to actually pan out this time. They killed themselves when they took Wilson, sure, but that’s their scouting and general manager’s problem.

NY has improved its roster this offseason, but this is still one of the three worst teams in the league and I can’t see a game on their schedule in which they’ll be favored. Normally, this is where I’d run through their game list and pick wins and losses, but all of these look like losses. So, instead, I’ll be picking potential wins. Fingers crossed.

The first I see on the schedule literally doesn’t show up until Nov. 27 when they host the Chicago Bears. After that, they bring in the Detroit Lions on Dec. 18 followed by the Jacksonville Jaguars in New York then a road game at the sure to be awful Seattle Seahawks. Can they win all four? Probably not. Will they possibly steal a win or two from the opponents that seriously outclass them in their other 13 games? Sure. It almost always happens. Otherwise the Jets would have gone 0-17 a year ago instead of not even locking down the No. 1 pick in the draft.

It’s going to be a long season, one that might all but spell the end of Wilson as a presumed franchise quarterback. Worse, for head coach Robert Saleh, another losing campaign, and certainly a worse record than in 2021, will probably cost him his job. On the bright side, another team will land a hell of a defensive coordinator.

Final record prediction: 3-14

Follow Adam Greene on Twitter @TheFirstMan.

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