The Jets indeed finally won something. And while it doesn’t guarantee too much going forward, it’s an achievement worth appreciating for a franchise starved for success.
We’re not used to the New York Jets being all that good at football.
Since 2012, only the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns have had worse records than Gang Green’s 55-106 mark. The Jets have the NFL’s longest active playoff drought, having not participated in a postseason game since 2011. The next longest current streak without postseason football is the Denver Broncos, who haven’t made it since 2016.
From butt fumbles and bungled coaching and exec hires to botched signings and draft picks, few NFL teams have been more fluent in futility than the Jets, who haven’t won or reached the big game since Super Bowl III more than 50 years ago.
But could April 28, 2022 be remembered as the night the Jets’ fortunes finally changed for the better?
Picking fourth and 10th in Thursday’s opening round of the NFL Draft — the latter selection being acquired by general manager Joe Douglas in a shrewd 2020 trade that sent expensive Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams to Seattle — New York nabbed Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson. Gardner was known in college for not allowing a single touchdown in one-on-one coverage, while Wilson turned heads in Columbus with his strength and speed as both a receiver and returner.
Both players are expected to be starters from day one, important for a team rebuilding around a nucleus of quarterback and 2021 No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson (no relation to Garrett), defensive linemen Quinnen Williams and John Frankin-Myers, left tackle Mekhi Becton, and cornerback Bryce Hall. And if that wasn’t enough, Douglas and the Jets traded up in the 1st round to 26 to select Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson, a long and powerful pass rusher and run defender who unexpectedly dropped and provides much-needed talent on the defensive line.
For a team that finished 30th in passing yards allowed per game, 26th in total yards per game on offense, and 30th in total percentage of quarterback pressures last season, each strong pick Douglas and New York made fills a glaring need that was a fundamental weakness in 2021. Gang Green is widely regarded as the biggest winner of the draft’s opening round — and they have an early second-round selection in hand at 38th overall, providing an opportunity for the team to select a fourth 2022 starter.
While it will surely take some time for these young players to develop, there may finally be room for some optimism that the Jets could finally turn things around under Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh after additionally acquiring guard Laken Tomlinson from San Francisco, tight end CJ Uzomah from Cincinnati, and cornerback DJ Reed from Seattle in free agency. A significant part of their fortunes depends on Zach Wilson’s development, but legitimate pieces are in place for the team to discover an identity and manufacture wins.
Say it out loud. The New York Jets really, finally won something.
Sure, it was a night of suits, selections, and overblown punditry and not a contest on the field, but this springtime triumph could absolutely be a precursor to future that contains more frequent and consistent scoreboard W’s in the fall.