With a revamped offense, New York Jets OC Mike LaFleur needs to deploy a competent unit in 2022
The 2021 New York Jets failed to meet expectations on multiple levels. The defense gave up the most points in the NFL (29.6 per game) and the offense scored the fifth-fewest points in the league (18.2 per game).
While we saw flashes of success for multiple players on the offensive side of the football, the 2021 season was that of growing pains; both for the fans and players.
Key cogs in the offense missed large portions of the season or were generally unhealthy. This led to an obviously anemic offense.
Going into the 2022 season, however, the narrative around the offense has changed; and should mean that the leeway for offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur should as well.
This offseason, Jets general manager Joe Douglas did everything in his power to put the offense in a place to succeed.
Douglas re-signed numerous players for depth along the offense, the most important of those being All-Pro Braxton Berrios. Berrios is an excellent depth piece at wide receiver and an elite returner. He also has a great off-field connection with quarterback Zach Wilson, which doesn’t hurt, either.
In free agency, Douglas brought in two tight ends: C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin. Both players bring their grit on the gridiron into the locker room, helping mature the Jets’ young quarterback in more ways than one. Douglas also signed Pro Bowl guard Laken Tomlinson to shore up the offensive line.
Early in the 2022 NFL draft, Douglas continued to build the offense with a pair of premium selections. Douglas took Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson with the 10th overall pick and traded up to snag Iowa State running back Breece Hall at the beginning of the second round.
Douglas continued his offensive rebuild with a couple of later selections. In the third round, Douglas picked tight end Jeremy Ruckert out of Ohio State. While Ruckert isn’t much of a pass-catching threat, he was one of the best run-blocking tight ends in the draft. Douglas later used an early fourth-round pick to add an excellent swing-tackle prospect in Max Mitchell from Louisiana.
This offseason was a boon to the Jets offense. When considering the second-year growth that is likely to come from the young talent the team brought in last year as well, the excuses for a bad offensive showing this season should be non-existent.
Whether the players are inexperienced or not, the fact is that this Jets offense is too talented to play as poorly as it did last season. Even LaFleur himself spoke of the offense having “too much” talent at minicamp thus far. It’s a good problem for the team to have.
With that type of confidence going into the season, excuses shouldn’t exist if expectations fail to be met.
The Jets now have the pieces to run the San Francisco 49ers-inspired offense that LaFleur was expected to bring to New York upon his arrival with Robert Saleh. We’re unlikely to see the high frequency of 21 personnel (2 RB / 1 TE) that the 49ers are known to employ, but other than that, the Jets’ concepts should mirror San Francisco.
LaFleur comes from a team – and family – that has found excellent success at the NFL level. If the younger LaFleur wants to etch a path out for himself, it starts by turning around a New York Jets offense that hasn’t ranked top-10 in scoring since 2008.
Whether it’s fair or not, this season could, and should be a make-or-break year for the young signal-caller.