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Let’s Talk About the Jets, Baby

Jets

Being a Packers fan is unsettling these days, but it has given me the opportunity to watch two New York teams that are both doing quite a U-turn.  I already wrote about the resurgent New York Football Giants last week and this time I want to focus on the team who has been the punch line of jokes for many years: the New York Jets.

We need to take a good look at how this organization has been building a young and smart team.  While the Jets have been the punching bag of the league for a long time, they’ve been softly moving in the right direction with smart coaching hires and drafting. 

Here’s a breakdown of (just some) strategic New York Jets draft picks by Joe Douglas over the last few years:

Zach Wilson, QB

Drafted: 2021, Number two overall, out of BYU

Wilson had a rocky start to his rookie season due to a mid-year knee injury.  Fast forward to 2022 and he is proving to mold into the talent that GM Joe Douglas had hoped for.  His stats on paper aren’t all that extraordinary, but he is making large strides right in front of our eyes; better yet, he plays his best ball in the fourth quarter.  It appears that Wilson’s decision-making in the pocket continues to improve.

Sealing an impressive divisional win over the Miami Dolphins week five was surely a turning point for Wilson and this Jets team. Though the Packers are not the powerhouse they have been in past seasons, the Jets just executed another statement (17-point) win at the lively Lambeau field. 

The quarterback of the Jets’ future seems to be solidly gaining control of this team on and off the field.

Sauce Gardner, CB

Drafted: 2022, number four overall, out of Cincinnati

Safeties, interceptions, and tackles-oh my.  Sauce Gardner does it all.  The best part? He is 22 years old and primed for a long career at the rate he is playing.  Against one of the toughest duos to defend in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, he allowed only 26 yards combined and recorded his first career pick. 

Sauce disrupted an Aaron Rodgers-led offense at an elite level in week six: on six targets, he allowed for one completion (eight yards) and forced three incompletions.  While his career is only six games in, Gardner will be a fun one to watch develop.  For someone taken fourth overall, expectations are great.  Will he continue to deliver? Time will tell.

Breece Hall, RB

Drafted: 2022, number 36 overall, out of Iowa State

Here’s a stat: through weeks five and six in the NFL, rookie Breece Hall had the most 10+ yard runs in the league with an impressive eight of them.  The former Iowa State star is morphing into a cyclone himself as he is solidifying a RB1 designation very quickly.

Not only is Hall outstanding on the ground, but he is becoming a favorite target in the air as well. On the season:

Ground: 391 Rush yards on 76 carries and three rushing TD’s

Air: 19 receptions for 218 yards and one TD

We now watch for consistency down the stretch of a lengthy 17-game season.  It appears as though if Hall can stay healthy that he can continue being the nucleus of this emerging Jets offense.

Quinnen Williams

Drafted: 2019, number three overall, out of Alabama

If you caught the Jets versus Packers in week six, you’ll have no wonder that Williams was crowned AFC Defensive Player of the Week. Williams was drafted earliest in this list of studs, but is on pace for an All-Pro season.

Week six stats:

  • Two sacks
  • Three QB hits
  • Two tackles for loss
  • Forced fumble
  • Blocked field goal                                                                                                                                         

We didn’t go very long without hearing Kevin or Greg assign Quinnen Williams to a big play and with 11 games to go, should be feared by offenses around the league.  He leads all pass rushers with five sacks and 11 QB hits on the season. 

Garrett Wilson, WR

Drafted: 2022, number 10 overall, out of Ohio State

Though he has not hauled in any touchdowns since a pair in week one (Cleveland), Garrett Wilson is on watch as he holds potential for a spark down the stretch.  His terrific hands and elusive nature have everyone waiting for that breakout game for which he is due.

Golden gloves:

  • 90% catch rate in 2021 for on-target tosses
  • Wilson only dropped six balls throughout his three-year career at Ohio State

As quarterback Zach Wilson still looks to find a rhythm in the air since his return from an inaugural-season knee injury, this Wilson to Wilson connection looks to be promising connection for years to come. For now, the Jets look to establish their dominance pounding the rock on the ground.

According to current odds, Hall and Gardner are best bets to win OROY and DROY.  What a year for the Jets if this comes to fruition. This has not happened since duo rookie honors came from Alvin Kamara and Marshon Lattimore on the 2017 Saints.

Let’s not forget the big Robert Saleh hire in 2021 leading the charge for the green and white. Some have graded the Jets recent drafts very highly so when you start to see this young talent coming together on the field you have to respect the process. Going into week seven at 4-2, the Jets look to take down a struggling Broncos team. Look at the diversity of their former draft picks that continue to create success.

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