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Are the NY Jets better off at the QB position? | Offseason Recap, Part I

Zach Wilson, Mike White, Joe Flacco, New York Jets
Zach Wilson, Mike White, Joe Flacco, New York Jets, Getty Images

All was quiet was on the passing front this offseason, but Zach Wilson knows he must produce for the New York Jets in 2022

With minicamp activities concluded, the New York Jets‘ 2022 offseason is officially closed. By the time the Jets take the field again, they’ll be prepping for preseason contests and the regular season that follows.

To commemorate the offseason that was, Jets X-Factor takes a positon-by-position look to answer the almighty question…did the Jets get better?

Our look back starts at the quarterback position…

How It Started

The Jets went into last season with nary a single throw in an NFL regular season game amongst their summer trio. That group was (and still is) headlined by Zach Wilson, who is the Jets’ obvious franchise man moving forward.

Professional redshirts, where a touted rookie sits behind a veteran, are an increasingly endangered concept in the NFL, but it was still surprising to see the Jets place regular season virgins James Morgan (later released) and Mike White behind Wilson. Their regret was apparent when they signed Josh Johnson in the final stages of the preseason and later traded a draft pick to Philadelphia to reobtain Joe Flacco (who had left New York over the spring after taking over for the injured Sam Darnold in 2020).

Wilson suffered an in-season injury. That ailment led to the rise of White and the commencement of one of the most magical one-game wonders in NFL history. Such magic proved unsustainable, leading to Flacco’s return to the starting role until Wilson healed.

Upon his reinsertion, Wilson’s stats weren’t eye-popping but he proved to be promising, particularly when judged upon the mediocre standards of both Jets quarterbacks and the early production of the 2021 passing draft class. Wilson was responsible for nine touchdowns (including four on the ground) over the final seven games of the season and will enter his sophomore campaign with an active streak of 162 consecutive passes without an interception.

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How It’s Going

Barring Kansas City offering Patrick Mahomes for a seventh-rounder, the Jets were going to stick with Wilson at quarterback. No one’s going to make Wilson the top pick in their fantasy football draft this fall (his inability to break past 300 yards at any point last season is a tad concerning in today’s NFL), but he did nothing to warrant an immediate jettison from the franchise quarterback role.

Further dedication to Wilson was exemplified through the Jets’ decision to re-up with their incumbent contingencies, rather than bringing in a start-worthy veteran to compete with him (i.e. Ryan Fitzpatrick arriving in Geno Smith’s fourth season or Miami’s choice to bring in Teddy Bridgewater behind Tua Tagovailoa this year).

Both Flacco and White, capable backups who are no realistic threat to Wilson’s post, were re-signed to one-year deals. The two will likely battle it out this preseason for the primary backup role. For what it’s worth, White appears to be the more expendable of the two from a pure financial standpoint, as his contract is worth over $2.5 million in cap space should it be moved via release or trade.

Are They Better Off?

At first glance, it’s hard to say, considering that this is a group that’s literally unchanged from last season.

But when you’re a team like that Jets, a team whose fans would give their collective left arm to have some semblance of stability in the most important position of sports, retaining the same group from the year prior is a downright godsend. It’s weird to say that considering that group just worked through a four-win campaign.

Unfair as it may be, the Jets’ 2022 season, regardless of wins or losses, will be judged by the progress of Wilson, who has been put in a position to succeed this offseason (more on that as our series goes on). But retaining Flacco and White shows that they took emergency plans into consideration in case the unthinkable happens to Wilson.

The fact they didn’t go after a start-worthy backup (i.e. Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota) ensures that they can go through the season with absolutely zero controversy at quarterback that season, allowing Wilson to go through a potential make-or-break season in as much peace as possible.

It’s not often that retaining complete memories from a 13-loss team leads to franchise stability. But this is Jets football … did you really expect the status quo?

Final Offseason Grade: B+

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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Robert Papalia
2 years ago

We will know by the end of the year if Zach Wilson is the guy or not.

2 years ago

Ok, this won’t be popular but, here goes….What I like about how Joe is building this team is, if Zach doesn’t work out, and he’s not “the guy” the roster won’t be such a disaster that they won’t be able to move on and try to find the next “guy.” It will be much easier for them in the future to replace and develop a young QB with a solid team structure in place. That’s everything from “team culture,” to consistency in the coaching staff, GM and other team leadership positions, right up to the talent on the team at other positions. We don’t want that to happen, but it can, and they will be much more prepared to deal with that scenario if it happens. The narrative that Joe and Saleh’s future is tied to Zach because they took him second overall is the typical false narrative that works nicely for the beat writers and ESPNquirer. Looking back on that decision, Joe made the best choice, the only choice. That’s not to cast aspersions on Sam Darnold, the Jets hung him out to dry but clearly, he’s not making Douglas look bad for moving on to Zach. For now, the Jets QB situation is as good as can be considering the circumstances that got them to this point.