The New York Jets’ offensive ceiling is sky-high in 2022
After six straight years as a bottom-seven offense (in terms of yards per game), the New York Jets have put together a roster that has legitimate top 10 potential.
While New York’s offense may not hit that lofty goal in 2022, there is no doubt that the Jets’ offense will be significantly more watchable this year.
Even before the draft, the Jets’ offense already boasted exciting potential going into its second year under offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. Between the growth of quarterback Zach Wilson and the signings of C.J. Uzomah, Tyler Conklin, and Laken Tomlinson, there was plenty to look forward to.
Then the draft came along – and general manager Joe Douglas took the unit’s ceiling to an entirely new level.
Douglas loaded up the offense with three potential stars in wide receiver Garrett Wilson, running back Breece Hall, and tight end Jeremy Ruckert. Wilson and Hall were both considered by many as the best players in the draft at their respective positions.
Said last night the Jets were cooking with gas, they're still cooking tonight!
– #1 CB Sauce Gardner
– #1 WR Garrett Wilson
– #3 EDGE Jermaine Johnson
– #1 RB Breece Hall
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) April 29, 2022
For the first time in a very long time, Jets fans will finally see the offense score some points.
Here are a few of the reasons that New York’s offense could reach a top-10 level if things break the right way.
The wide receiver unit has elite potential and solid depth
In the modern NFL, you can never have enough weapons. The Cincinnati Bengals showed that during their Super Bowl run.
Joe Douglas has done a great job surrounding second-year quarterback Zach Wilson with playmakers.
Last year, Corey Davis was the Jets’ top wide receiver heading into the season. Despite struggling with drops, Davis still produced at a rate that put him on pace for over 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns per 17 games. Davis had 32 catches for 477 yards and four touchdowns through his first eight games before leaving early in his ninth and final game with an injury.
Now, Davis is arguably the third-best wide receiver on the roster.
Elijah Moore was on a tear before an injury ended his rookie season in Week 13. Moore was playing like a legitimate top 10 wide receiver over his final six weeks.
Impressively, Moore did this with four different quarterbacks throwing to him (Wilson, Mike White, Josh Johnson, Joe Flacco).
While it remains to be seen if Moore can maintain this level of play, he has at least shown he is capable of being one of the better receivers in the NFL.
Douglas then went out and added another weapon in Garrett Wilson. The former Buckeye was electric in college, dominating both downfield and on short routes. Wilson is an ideal scheme fit as he averaged nearly 10 yards after the catch on receptions within five yards of the line of scrimmage.
All three of the Jets’ top wide receivers can line up in the slot or outside and thrive after the catch. Mike LaFleur must be ecstatic.
At the 2022 combine, Joe Douglas stated, “Speed creates pressure. Pressure bursts pipes.”
He’s lived up to his word, building a wide receiver unit that is loaded with speed.
The Jets’ top four receivers outside of Davis (who missed the combine) have an average 40-yard dash time of 4.39 seconds, each running the drill in 4.44 seconds or less:
- Garrett Wilson: 4.38s
- Elijah Moore: 4.35s
- Braxton Berrios: 4.44s
- Breece Hall: 4.39s
Jets offense 40 times:
Garret Wilson: 4.38s
Elijah Moore: 4.35s
Braxton Berrios: 4.44s
Denzel Mims: 4.38s
Breece Hall: 4.39s
Michael Carter: 4.5s
Speed to spare 💨💨 pic.twitter.com/w9HQcu8dgD
— Stefan Stelling (@li_jets) May 1, 2022
The Jets’ top three wide receivers are all capable of breaking 1,000 yards. Moore and Wilson both have the potential to be among the best pass-catchers in the NFL.
This unit’s ceiling in 2022 is ridiculously high but even the floor is respectable as well.
Dynamic duo at running back
At running back, the Jets have a duo that I believe can be among the five best in the NFL.
Michael Carter was a star for the Jets in Year 1. As a rookie, Carter led the NFL in missed tackles forced per touch (0.297). While he had some issues with drops, Carter was excellent as a receiver as well (36 catches for 325 yards).
Despite Carter’s prowess, the Jets did not settle, deciding to make the backfield even better by pairing Carter with Breece Hall.
Hall was considered by many to be the best running back prospect in the draft. He has tantalizing potential with his combination of size (5-foot-11, 217 pounds) and speed (4.39s 40-yard dash). Impressively, Hall also had a higher forced missed tackles per touch rate in his final college season (0.303) than Carter (0.299).
While it may have been a luxury to add Hall, this pick helps Zach Wilson more than any other that the Jets could have made in that spot of the draft. The Jets’ newfound potential to grind down defenses and open up play-action – much like the 49ers – is exciting.
In their first year as a duo, Carter and Hall have the potential to combine for as many as 2,500 yards together. That’s helping your quarterback.
Tight end is … a strength?
Tight end is finally a strength for the Jets after a decade of neglect. After last season’s struggles, Douglas added three quality tight ends to the roster to fully unlock LaFleur’s scheme.
C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin are both legitimate starting tight ends that contribute as receivers and blockers.
Uzomah is at his best after the catch, comparing very well with other top tight ends in the NFL.
C.J. Uzomah took his YAC game to a new level in 2021
– 10 missed tackles forced (T-8th among TE)
– 6.1 YAC per reception (10th / 35 TEs)
– 298 total YAC (11th)
He was one of 5 TEs with 6.0+ YAC/rec and 10+ missed tackles forced, joining:
— Michael Nania (@Michael_Nania) March 14, 2022
Meanwhile, Conklin’s reliable hands would make him an excellent security blanket for Wilson, who led the NFL in dropped pass rate among 38 qualified quarterbacks. In 2021, Conklin only had one drop on the season, including zero drops on short passes (0-9 yards downfield).
Rookie tight end Jeremy Ruckert has plenty of upside as well. He wasn’t used heavily at Ohio State but he delivered when called upon.
Jeremy Ruckert never had a real shot to put up big volume numbers in an OSU offense with so many NFL WRs but he delivered when targeted
– 132.7 passer rating when targeted
– 3.6% drop rate (just 2 drops)
– 54.5% contested-catch rate
– 12 TD on only 73 targets#Jets
— Michael Nania (@Michael_Nania) April 30, 2022
Ruckert has been compared to stars George Kittle and Rob Gronkowski, both of whom were underused in college and selected on Day 3. For comparison’s sake, Ruckert averaged a very similar amount of touchdowns per reception (.222) to Kittle (.208) and Gronk (.213).
Any one of these additions would’ve been a huge boost for the Jets’ offense on their own. Instead, Douglas went all-in, giving the Jets a dynamic duo for the present (Uzomah and Conklin) and a tantalizing prospect for the future (Ruckert).
Given the tight end position’s importance to LaFleur’s scheme, it was the right choice.
Zach Wilson needs to deliver
This offseason, Douglas did a great job of adding weapons to the offense. Now it’s up to Wilson to deliver.
In his first season, Wilson’s situation was far from ideal. With several new pieces on offense and in the coaching staff, it wasn’t until Week 4 that the Jets started to settle down. Then Wilson suffered a knee injury right before LaFleur hit his groove at midseason. When Wilson finally returned in Week 12, the roster was decimated by injuries.
Wilson showed enough progress in his final seven games to ease some concerns but still needs to be much better. He actually threw for fewer yards per attempt after returning from injury (5.8) than he did prior to his injury (6.5). While he was much safer with the ball, he was also less explosive.
Heading into his second season, the Jets have given Wilson several targets he can trust on any given play. The upside of the Jets’ weaponry is high, as Moore, Wilson, and Hall have the potential to be among the best players in the NFL at their respective positions.
Add in a possibly dominant offensive line, and Zach Wilson is set up to succeed.