Zach Wilson, NY Jets, Odds, Stats, Predictions, 2022
Zach Wilson, New York Jets, Getty Images

Projecting 4 different scenarios for the New York Jets’ 2022 season

After six seasons of total futility, this New York Jets offseason has given fans cause for optimism. Joe Douglas made smart moves in free agency rather than splashy ones, preferring to make the splashes in the draft. His four top-40 picks headline a team that has experienced a resurgence of talent. It’s possible that the Jets have not had this much talent on their roster since the 2009-10 teams.

Then the schedule was released, and it took the wind out of the sails a bit. Starting off with a slate against the ultra-competitive AFC North, games at Denver and Green Bay, and the difficult division games, it’s possible that the win-loss record will only marginally reflect the improvement in talent.

Still, this season can go a few different ways. Let’s break down the scenarios and the probability that each will happen.

Scenario 1: Worst case

This is every Jets fan’s worst nightmare after a decade full of nightmares.

Offensively, Zach Wilson looks just as lost as he did early in his rookie season. The running game is decent but not dominant. The wide receivers fail to get open and struggle with making catches when the ball does hit their hands. C.J. Uzomah gets hurt. Mekhi Becton never gets back to form, and George Fant takes a step back. The O-line allows sack after sack.

The defense, despite seeming personnel improvements, still can’t stop anyone. The middle of the field leaks, allowing tight ends and running backs to feast. Quinnen Williams is stuck in the middle of the pack, leaving the Jets uncertain over his future. Jermaine Johnson and Carl Lawson cannot get pressure off the edge. Sauce Gardner suffers through a penalty-laden rookie season.

The injury bug haunts the Jets on both sides of the ball. The Jets win 4-5 games against inferior teams. They get blown out a few times, including by at least one mediocre team.

Though this is a possibility, I find it unlikely. Even if Wilson struggles, there’s just too much talent on offense for the team to be this bad.

The run-blocking is solid five-deep. Breece Hall and Michael Carter should form a strong one-two combo. We’ve seen the Kyle Shanahan-style offense succeed even with mediocre quarterback play (Jimmy Garoppolo), and the Jets’ running backs and receiving corps may be more talented than the 49ers had. Even if Uzomah gets hurt, Tyler Conklin is a starting-caliber tight end. It’s hard to believe that the Jets’ offense won’t take a step forward.

Scenario 2: Coldly realistic case

The Jets’ influx of talent starts to show, but a difficult schedule holds them back.

Zach Wilson improves but still makes the mistakes of a young quarterback, such as holding onto the ball too long and throwing off his back foot. He flashes more of his arm talent and makes some wow plays. Corey Davis has a bounceback year with protection around him, and he becomes Zach Wilson’s favorite target. Hall and Carter combine for 1,300 rushing yards and 10 TDs. The offensive line excels in run-blocking but struggles somewhat in pass protection.

The defense struggles against the run, but with an improved pass rush and secondary, they win some games against teams with weaker offensive lines. Sauce shows a lot of potential, but he struggles with penalties and gets beaten a few times deep as is typical for rookie cornerbacks. Jermaine Johnson struggles to get to the quarterback but does well with run-stuffing on the edge. John Franklin-Myers takes advantage of moving inside and gets close to 10 sacks. The Jets win 6-7 games with one or two surprise victories.

I think this is the most likely scenario. I expect Zach Wilson to take a step forward, but I’m not going to rush things. He had such a bad year last season that it’s hard to believe he’ll suddenly become Justin Herbert. I think he’ll throw more touchdowns and look better on the short-to-intermediate passes, but I’m still anticipating some interceptions that leave us scratching our heads.

I expect the running backs to do well. Between the scheme, Michael Carter’s success last season, and the offensive line’s proclivity for run-blocking, everything seems to be lined up that way.

Struggling against the run is almost inevitable for the Jets, as Joe Douglas almost completely ignored the middle of the field. The mixed reviews from scouts about Jermaine Johnson lead me to believe that sacks may not come immediately. JFM is a strong interior pass rusher who was the Jets’ best defender last year. Darrelle Revis didn’t light the world on fire in his rookie year, and I expect the same from Sauce.

I believe the Jets are going to start off 2-7 and then win five of their last eight games against weaker teams.

Scenario 3: Optimistic but not crazy

Zach Wilson takes a big step forward with the weapons around him. He throws for 3,800 yards and 24 TDs against 12 picks. He shows the arm talent that made him the #2 overall pick and reminds us of Patrick Mahomes on a few big-time throws out of the pocket.

Wilson gets into a groove with Elijah Moore, who goes off for 1,100 receiving yards and 8 TDs. Breece Hall and Michael Carter combine for 1,500 rushing yards and 12 TDs. The offense is a Top 15 unit in the league, and the line reprises its 11th-best ranking in the NFL (via Pro Football Focus).

Defensively, Quinnen Williams is back to 2020 form, going off for 9 sacks and a top-5 big-play rate for interior linemen. Carl Lawson and Jermaine Johnson bring a lot of heat off the edge, even if it doesn’t necessarily translate into sacks.

The Jets still struggle with run defense and give up 4.5 yards per carry, but C.J. Mosley and Jordan Whitehead do a good enough job to keep the 20+ yard plays to a minimum. The Jets eke out wins against some good teams, starting the season 3-6 and ending up with 8 or 9 victories.

This is possible, if a little rosy. Zach Wilson has the talent and the weapons to take a sizable jump in his second season. I expect the rushing attack to be strong in almost all scenarios. Elijah Moore showed us that he can become a force in this league, and it’s not unrealistic to expect him to hit a target that he exceeded on a per-game basis for a six-game stretch last year. The O-line can be rock-solid with good health and Mekhi Becton’s strong return.

On defense, Quinnen Williams had a disappointing season last year, but his big-play and pass rush win rates suggest that with less attention from opposing lines, he will rake. Lawson and Johnson have all the potential to bring heat. The run defense is bound to struggle.

With the early-season schedule, if the Jets can pull off 3 victories in the first 9, they have a chance to end up near .500 at season’s end.

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Scenario 4: Best case, most unrealistic scenario

Zach Wilson takes an even bigger step forward, throwing for over 4,000 yards and 28 TDs with fewer than 10 picks. He sees the whole field, makes a number of wow plays on the run, contributes with his legs, and dominates between the hashmarks.

The trio of Garrett Wilson, Elijah Moore, and Corey Davis is unstoppable, combining for over 2,400 yards receiving. Breece Hall and Michael Carter form the league’s best one-two punch at running back and have the Jets near the top of the NFL in time of possession.

Mekhi Becton returns to his 2020 form and improves in pass-blocking. Alijah Vera-Tucker becomes a Pro Bowler in his second season, and Laken Tomlinson makes his second consecutive Pro Bowl.

Quinnen Williams and JFM combine for 18 sacks. The Jets’ run defense holds its own in the middle of the pack, and their secondary is among the tops in the NFL.

Quincy Williams builds on the flashes he showed last year to become a solid starter. Sauce looks like Antonio Cromartie, his biggest pro comparison, circa 2007 (10 INTs, 89.9 Pro Football Focus rating). Jason Pinnock becomes an underrated quality safety.

The Jets begin the season 4-5 against superior competition. They sweep the Dolphins, beat the Patriots at least once, and go 10-7. That may secure a wild card berth.

This is everything coming together ahead of schedule. Wilson certainly has the potential to join the AFC’s elite quarterbacks, though it’s hard to see that happening this year. The Jets’ receiving corps is young to put up those kinds of numbers so quickly, but it’s possible with their talent. The running backs could really be that good.

The potential is there in each of these areas, but for it all to happen against superior competition would be surprising.

New York’s defensive line would need to reach max potential for the defense to be good. It’s hard to imagine that the run defense will even manage mediocrity, but it’s possible if the chips fall in place. The Jets will need a surprise breakout player or two, as well.

To win 4 games in the first 9 and finish with 10 victories would be a dream. It’s not likely to happen, but it’s still fun to talk about.

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Rivka Boord has followed the Jets since the age of five. She is known locally for her in-depth knowledge of football. She hopes to empower young women to follow their dreams and join the sports conversation. Boord's background in analytics infuses her articles with unique insights into the state of the Jets' franchise and the NFL as a whole.
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Edward Kirby
Edward Kirby
5 months ago

Two questions I have for this kind of thing. 1) What will the final standings in the AFC East be this year? And 2) which players are going to be Pro-Bowlers?

Shall we assume that, for each of the four scenarios, there is a different final location in the standings as far as question #1 goes?

gpapanj
gpapanj
5 months ago

Great read, Rivka. Thanks! I’d be disappointed if the Jets didn’t win 8 games this year. Zach can make the leap and if Becton and Carl Lawson, in particular, stay healthy, they can do it.

gpapanj
gpapanj
5 months ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

I think winning only three more games than last season would be, Rivka. With Zach and the coaching staff gaining experience, with the injured players returning, and with the new additions (and possibly more coming), they could and should do better.

RustyZ
RustyZ
5 months ago

The best case scenario is much better than 10-7. NFL teams are not that far apart and a few players can reverse a teams record. Last year, the Jets were not very talented and lost a handful of key players. Zach had some growing pains and did not play very well before his injury. And yet, the Jets lost 5 games by one score. Even with all the injuries and lack of talent, the Jets were one score away from a winning record (9-8).
This year, the Jets are so vastly improved, more so than almost any year I can recall (and I go back to the NY Titans).
On offense they added a dominant OG, get their starting tackle back and AVT in his 2nd year, add three TEs better than we had last year, added the best WR in college and get Moore in his 2nd year, added the best RB in college, and best of all have Zach in his 2nd year.
On defense they get back Davis who was about to be a star and drafted Johnson on the other end with much more depth than before. They added two starters at CB (Reed and Sauce) and now have depth at that position. They added two starters at safety too (Joyner and Whitehead).
Saleh and his staff are also in year 2 which should add to their effectiveness.

All told, the Jets will have 11 starters that are an upgrade over who played most of last season (Becton did play in the first game). In addition, they have 2 starters and 2 backups who should be improved in their second year.

Yeah, I’m a long time Jets fan so the best scenario happened once in over 50 years so I’m not suggesting it’s likely. But don’t short change what this team can potentially do if all the cylinders click and we avoid major injury.

RustyZ
RustyZ
5 months ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

Ah, but you are predicting the likely result of 2022. I have been a Jets fan from their inception means I’ve been beaten into pessimism. The Murphy’s law was clearly written about the Jets, if something can go wrong, it will with our team. But the point I was making is about the best case scenario; where inexplicably our star DE and T and S don’t get hurt before the 1st game is over, where our rookie QB doesn’t regress but continues to improve and where our coaching staff gets smarter. In this best case scenario, I really do think the Jets can be a top team. If Zach turns into a star QB, the offense will be the best since Namath. If Reed and Sauce are the real deal and Davis and Johnson shine, the defense can be like the Rex Ryan squad. Yeah, the best case scenario does require drinking some Koolaid, but it really can see this happening if the Gods are with us.

But don’t bet the house.

RustyZ
RustyZ
5 months ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

Worse case 0, best case 17. Realistically, like the Bengals last year, if they got to double digits I’d be thrilled. But best case if every call goes their way …

Matt Galemmo
Matt Galemmo
5 months ago

Here are my three scenarios for the run defense:

Worst case: they just suck. Quincy can’t find an angle with a protractor, CJ got old fast, and their “depth” is exposed.

Could be: teams run wild on the Jets between the 20s, but they one high & man up in the red zone, Whitehead drops down into the box, and opponents kick a lot of field goals.

Best case: CJ has another pro-bowl year in him and Quincy’s flashes become the norm. Even Sherwood and Nasirildeen show up. While the DL one-gaps, the LBs clean up, and Berrios runs back a helluva lot of punts.

Jonathan Richter
Jonathan Richter
5 months ago

I agree with all the comments so far. Two key issues in how this plays out are 1) Health. I honestly think that if Carl Lawson had been healthy last season we would have won 6 or 7 games. We weren’t as far away as it looked. Sometimes one play can stop a drive that would otherwise result in points If we can stay relatively healthy then I have no problem predicting 10 wins.

2) Joe Douglas is not done building this roster. There will be lots of decent players available after training camp cuts. Lots of teams are going to be debating between going with the veteran or the upcoming youngster. Several veterans will get cut and JD will pounce. We could use a backup swing tackle, a run stuffing DT, and a LB.

My only complaint with the article is that 3 and 4 aren’t that dissimilar. If we’re being honest, the Best Case/Most Unrealistic prediction should be that we go to the Super Bowl. The 49ers went from 4-12 in 2018, then went 13-3 and went to the SB in 2019. Cincy was 4-12 in 2020, then went 10-7 and went to the SB in 2021. So the upside prediction should be that the same thing happens to us and win 11 games and make the post-season, where anything can happen. Obviously, that’s going to depend on 1 and 2 above.

Robert Papalia
Robert Papalia
5 months ago

I have been a Jets fan since the last 57 years. I have seen Namath, Maynard, Snell, and all the Jets players after that. If the Jets win 4 or 5 games this year expect changes to be made. Schedule or no schedule this team better be playing important games in December. Or the you know what will hit the fan.

Jonathan Richter
Jonathan Richter
5 months ago
Reply to  Robert Papalia

Getting close to 50 for me. I came on board the last few Namath yers when he was getting multiple surgeries every year and didn’t have much left. I did get to see John Riggins in green and white, though, who I loved.

Jets71
Jets71
5 months ago

A lot to unpack here, and I think we are looking at a mix of scenarios. I agree with hh11212, too much is made of Zach’s “up and down” season, he actually improved. The guy from another division rival had a total regression and implosion yet nobody mentions a peep about it, but I digress. A few things, the run D is a major problem for sure, and I hope they can look better against screens and swing passes, if they don’t the secondary and DL improvements won’t matter much. I personally think they start 3-1. I know it’s not the popular view however Baltimore has a lot of patching up to do with their QB and I think they’ve taken a step back on offense. I have always thought Jackson is overrated as a QB, and I like that as a “prove it” home opener. Cleveland is not the type of franchise to be able to deal with a destraction like the Watson/Baker Mayfield situation and while it will be a tough game, I don’t think the Browns are totally clicking by week two. The Jets win a tough one riding the opening day “mo.” Pitt will surely be sorting things out in their QB room and I don’t see any of their guys being completely comfortable that early in the season nor do I think Cincy at home is an “un-winnable” game. My biggest problem with the schedule is the 3 division games at home followed by all 3 on the road. What a joke. I’d love to see them do that to the Patoilets.

My biggest fear for this season has been the biggest problem over the past 6 you mention, injuries. They simply cannot be playing games late in the season with practice squad offensive linemen and picked up off the street WR’s like they have been. I do think the rookies will take a while, I have fear about Johnson, and my bet would be Sauce and G. Wilson take some time to find their stride. Maybe 6-8 weeks. My hope is the team can gut out some wins, and sit around 4-4 or 5-5 with an opportunity to make a run late, if they can put it together.

Edward Kirby
Edward Kirby
5 months ago
Reply to  Jets71

Injuries are always the critical factor. Probably the most underrated statistic in the NFL is the percentage of the team’s available salary that is unable to play on any given week due to injury.

hh11212
hh11212
5 months ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

The only flaw I see with Baltimore and Pittsburgh aa hard games to win is they try to run the ball. But this will keep us in the game and these teams will have a hard time coming back if we get out to a lead. So I see them as winnable games for us.

hh11212
hh11212
5 months ago

Scenario two means you think what you saw for two games in week 2 and 3 from Zach is more important than what you saw the next 10 games. 11 TDs and 5 turnovers. And even better last 7 games 9 total TDs and 3 Turnovers largely with backups, guys who were literally 3rd and 4th stringers at the skill positions.

I actually feel scenario 3 and 4 are equally likely based on what I saw last year. Too much weight is placed on a his only 2 multiple Ints games of the year. Two games where PFF only had him responsible for 3 turnover worthy plays. So as bad as these games turned out they were not quite as bad as many think they were.

hh11212
hh11212
5 months ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

Thanks for responding, I still feel you are not giving Zach his credit. He helped us to victory in 2nd half against Houston, played outstanding in 1st half against the Eagles with 3 1st half TDs in his last game with 1st stringers. So if he had weapons and was able to get to average 2.5 Tds per game rest of season how impressive would that have been? Then he carried the team in both the Jaguar and Bucs game, with Berrios and Yeboah playing large roles. Carry a team? Check!

Many of the people, yourself included who are not sold on Zach are still weighing his 2nd and 3rd games much too heavily, games where he had 6 turnovers (Pat’s, Broncos). He had one of best turnover rates in NFL down the stretch and for a rookie without weapons that showed discipline to be patient and play within the structure of the offense.

Zach went through his progressions well and when you watch the tape he knew where to get the ball and read middle field concepts extremely well. Most rookies throw outside the numbers well but struggle between the hashes. Zach progressed very well in this area and showed the ability to improve his game in season. With a full off-season to continue this progress we should all feel great about Zach. All this chatter is silly to me and shows me people aren’t able to see the tangible progress and immense potential for Zach this season because they saw two bad games early, many will only be able to see it once it happens. Remember I tried to show folks early on but stubborness and fear will keep many off the train until it is well out of the station.

hh11212
hh11212
5 months ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

Thanks for the engagement. It has been great. I expect Zach to have between 4,200 and 4,600 yds passing and 32 TDs…10 INT’s. That is my projection. With the weapons we have and his personal improvement, 2022 should be a banner year for the Jets!

hh11212
hh11212
5 months ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

Yes, I expect a 52% to 48% pass to run rate (NFL avg around a little over 64 plays per game). This would give him about 33.5 pass attempts per game vs about 30.5 run attempts per game. I am projecting for a YPA between 7.5 and 8.1 per attempt. Which would put him between 4250 yds and 4600 yds. I think 1.9 TDs per game is reasonable. I am expecting about 52 offensive TDs for the team this year. That woul leave 20 rushing tds, expecting Hall around 8 rushing tds Carter around 6 tds and Zach and the rest of the team to tack on 6 or so tds on the ground.

hh11212
hh11212
5 months ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

I agree it seems like a big jump but if he plays with solid weapons the majority of season and the drop rate of 12.7% goes down to 7%. And if Zach continues with the footwork improvements he showed at the end of the season he should easily increase his YPA to worst case 7.3 and on the high end 8.5. I believe he will fall in the range I stated which is 7.5 to 8.1.

PS the history of this offense and YPA of the QBs in it also factor into my YPA projection.