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5 team-wide preseason goals for the NY Jets

Sauce Gardner, NY Jets, Preseason, Training Camp, 2022
Sauce Gardner, New York Jets, Getty Images

Goals for the New York Jets in the 2022 preseason

Each individual player on the New York Jets roster has a different set of goals going into the 2022 preseason. But what about the team as a whole? What should fans hope to see from the Jets as a consummate unit over these three upcoming exhibition games?

Here are five goals for the Jets to aim for.

1. Shake off the rust

The Jets have some players who will be taking the field for the first time in nearly a year after missing most or all of the 2021 season. Carl Lawson is the most notable example.

While Lawson is not fighting for a roster spot or starting role, the preseason is still a great opportunity for him to get reacclimated to playing in a real game. Regardless of how well he plays, Lawson will feel rejuvenated to be back on the field after sitting out of 17 games last year. Giving him one or two series of playing time in each of the first two preseason games would be a worthwhile endeavor.

Shaking off the rust can be a big part of the preseason’s appeal for all players, not just players like Lawson who are coming off an injury. Of course, it’s never wise to play your starters for too long in the preseason, but it’s a good idea to give them a chance to get their feet wet after not playing any real games for at least six or seven months.

2. Flashes from highly-drafted rookies

As I found in a study that I conducted heading into the 2021 preseason, there is almost no correlation between preseason production and regular-season production. Playing well in the preseason does not indicate you will play well in the regular season. The same goes for playing poorly in the preseason.

With that being said, it is still encouraging for a franchise to see its cornerstone young pieces show the world why they were handpicked to be an integral piece of the team’s future.

We will be seeing players like Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson, Jermaine Johnson, and Breece Hall take the field in their full Jets uniforms for the very first time. Seeing even just one flash of potential from each of these players would make the preseason a fun time for Jets fans.

Once again, it’s important to remember the lack of correlative value that the preseason carries. Sauce Gardner is not guaranteed to have a dominant regular season if he dominates in the preseason. Garrett Wilson is not guaranteed to have a shaky rookie season if he drops a couple of passes in the preseason.

The preseason cannot help us predict the future. Regardless, just for the sake of producing optimism for the team and its fanbase, it would be tremendous for the Jets if their four highly-drafted rookies can each show a glimpse of their talent.

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3. Emergence of unexpected contributors

Every year, there are a handful of relatively unknown players on all 32 NFL rosters who shine in the preseason and force their team to make some difficult decisions.

Who will be the Jets’ surprise stars this year?

Throughout training camp, the Jets have had a handful of roster-bubble players stand out. Safety Will Parks, running back Zonovan Knight, wide receiver Irvin Charles, and wide receiver Calvin Jackson are just a few of the fringe players who have been generating positive buzz in camp. It would be a pleasant surprise to have one of these overlooked players emerge as a useful piece.

Defensive tackle Tanzel Smart is a low-level player that I will be keeping a close eye on.

The Jets are sorely lacking run-stopping talent at defensive tackle. Smart had a strong preseason and camp as a run-stuffer in 2021 but surprisingly did not make the roster, spending the year on New York’s practice squad. Now, Smart has a shot to show the Jets he can fill one of their biggest defensive holes.

The Jets can also discover unexpected contributors in the form of players who will certainly make the roster but outperform their current expectations.

The offensive tackle position is a perfect example of where this can occur. Players like Chuma Edoga and Max Mitchell will have a chance to show the Jets they might have better depth at the position than they currently expect to (based on Edoga’s past struggles and Mitchell’s status as a small-school fourth-round rookie).

This type of surprise can also occur at linebacker, where second-year players Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen will look to take leaps and prove they can be long-term starters. Keep an eye on safety, too, where Jason Pinnock and Ashtyn Davis are another pair of Joe Douglas draft picks who are seeking to break out.

4. Stable performance from Zach Wilson

Again, let’s be clear: preseason performance is not a sign of things to come. Zach Wilson played really well in the preseason last year. What he does over the next few weeks will not help us predict what kind of quarterback he will be from September through January.

Despite this, there is no question that the Jets and their fans would much rather see Wilson thrive than falter during his limited preseason appearances.

The expectation for Wilson this preseason is simply to build on some of the positive growth that he showed near the end of 2021. Make good decisions. Get the ball out on-time. Protect the ball. Throw with good accuracy on throws that should be completed with ease.

And that’s about it. Wilson does not need to record any highlights or gaudy numbers. As long as he looks confident and in control of the offense, then Jets fans can feel good about Wilson going into Week 1.

5. No injuries!

Staying healthy is easily the number one goal of every NFL team in the preseason.

Finding a happy medium is crucial. You want your key players to get some reps, but you never want to go overboard (a la Rex Ryan with Mark Sanchez). It’s important that the Jets take a very conservative approach in regards to how many snaps they give to their top guys.

Teams can also help protect the players through their play-calling. Don’t ask Zach Wilson to take seven-step drops and throw deep shots with Chuma Edoga at right tackle. Just don’t do it. Ask him to get the ball out quickly and then sit him down.

Robert Saleh has done his best to help the Jets stay healthy. He keeps contact to a minimum during training camp practices and also gives rest days to veteran players. Now that the preseason is here, Saleh needs to work even harder at employing the most effective methods for minimizing injury risk.

After suffering from the most Adjusted Games Lost (AGL) due to injury over the past two seasons, nothing will improve this Jets team more than a clean bill of health. Keeping everybody in one piece has to be the top priority for New York over the next few weeks.

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1 year ago

I realize you only picked 5 things in a list of maybe a hundred but we need to see the OL have some cohesion. We can’t have anymore still photos of McGovern standing there blocking air while a LB shoots the gap untouched for a sack on Zach. They have to show they can hit the ground running opening day. Zach and this offense can’t withstand 5 weeks of growing pains for the OL because they have new players and some shifting around. My opinion is, priority #1 is no injuries, #2 is the OL working as a unit. Then the others you have listed here.