Hidden within an exciting Divisional playoff Saturday was the birth of newfound New York Jets optimism
The NFL’s 2021-22 Divisional Round weekend started off with a thrilling pair of Saturday games that were a delight for any NFL fan (save for two fanbases).
Each of the league’s two top-seeded teams were toppled on a game-winning field goal. The AFC’s fourth-seeded Cincinnati Bengals took down the Tennessee Titans and the NFC’s sixth-seeded San Francisco 49ers knocked off the Green Bay Packers.
Beneath all of the chaos were two subtle breaths of hope injected into the world of New York Jets football.
Jets X-Factor’s own Vitor Paiva sent out a brilliant tweet on Saturday night that summed up why the events in Nashville and Green Bay provided a surge of optimism for the organization in Florham Park.
Encouraging day for #Jets fans.
Bengals showing how quick of a turnaround you can have with a good quarterback &
The 49ers model advancing to its 2nd NFCCG in 3 years.
— Vitor (@VitorPaivaM) January 23, 2022
Bengals exemplify how quickly things can change
The Cincinnati Bengals’ path from zeroes to heroes is remarkably akin to the Jets’ current trajectory.
In 2019, the Bengals won two games. They used the horrid season to draft a franchise quarterback (Joe Burrow) in 2020 and would go on to win four games. Then, voila – they’re in the AFC Championship Game in 2021.
In 2020, the Jets won two games. They used the horrid season to draft a franchise quarterback (Zach Wilson) in 2021 and would go on to win four games.
What’s next for New York?
Cincinnati’s future looked promising after the 2020 season thanks merely to the presence of Burrow, but few thought the team would spring into Super Bowl contention the very next year.
A steady climb was the more reasonable projection for the Bengals. Perhaps they flirted with a .500 record in 2021, earned a wild card berth in 2022, and then entered the championship conversation in 2023.
Contrary to the beliefs of many, rebuilding in the NFL is not always that linear.
Sure, some teams do follow an elongated step-by-step development path, but many others make an overnight ascension from the basement to the mountaintop. Every team is different. Turnarounds can happen quickly in this league.
Only one thing is needed to make those quick turnarounds possible: a young quarterback making the leap.
In Zach Wilson, the Jets have a quarterback capable of making a Joe Burrow-esque leap that would push the team into contender status overnight. Can he take the jump that Sam Darnold, Geno Smith, and Mark Sanchez never could?
Getting Wilson his version of Ja’Marr Chase would certainly help him match Burrow’s rise.
Play: 👉 the Jet X Offseason Simulator
49ers showcase that their model works
The Jets are essentially the east-coast version of the 49ers.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh and Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur spent four years together on Kyle Shanahan’s coaching staff in San Francisco. When they came to the Jets, Saleh and LaFleur brought over many of the same schematic and philosophical elements that the Niners employed during their time there and continue to employ today.
Both offensively and defensively, it was clear in 2021 that the Jets are trying to win football games in the same fashion as the 49ers.
San Francisco’s sustained success is proof that the Jets’ vision can work.
Sure, we saw the 49ers go to a Super Bowl in 2019, but that was their only season with a winning record out of four years under Shanahan. How were we to know that 2019 wasn’t a flash in the pan? In that case, the Jets would be foolishly trying to mimic a style of football that was only successful in one fluke season.
Now that the 49ers have advanced to their second NFC Championship Game in three years, it’s clear that the San Francisco model is more than just a one-year wonder. It’s a proven philosophy that can get a team deep into the playoffs.
The hard part for New York will be getting the talent to match San Francisco – the Jets need their Deebo Samuel, their George Kittle, their Nick Bosa, and so on – but the 49ers’ successful playoff run allows Jets fans to feel more comfortable about the validity of Saleh and LaFleur’s visions for the franchise.
Audio Version available to members only: Learn more here
Want More NY Jets News & Jets X-Factor Content?
Download the free Jet X Mobile App to get customizable notifications directly to your iOS (App Store) or Google/Android (Google Play) device.
Add Jets X-Factor to your Google News feed to stay up to date with the New York Jets.
Join the official Jets Discord community to connect with likeminded fans.