A good analyst reviews their predictions (and perhaps stops making them)
With another New York Jets season in the books, it’s reckoning time—for the general manager, for the head coach, for the assistant coaches, and for the players.
But there’s another group of people who should be doing an internal reckoning: the prognosticators. We all make our predictions of what we think will happen in a given season. Usually, those predictions are forgotten at the end of the year, and then we do the same thing all over again the next year.
Let’s try to avoid that pitfall of mindless speculation by going back and actually reviewing what we thought. Now, this does not mean that those of us who were miserably wrong will stop prognosticating, but maybe we’ll account more for the variations in football rather than following the general consensus.
It was about the youth
This is my part of the equation, as my season preview article included in the title “It’s all about the youth.” This season was all about the development of the Jets’ youth, but the results were more mixed than you may originally think.
Sauce Gardner and Garrett Wilson exceeded expectations out of the gate and may well sweep the Rookie of the Year awards. Breece Hall likely would have beaten out Wilson for the offensive honor had he not torn his ACL. Jermaine Johnson showed the speed, length, and edge-setting capabilities that impressed the Jets while still demonstrating that he has a long way to go as a pass rusher. Micheal Clemons and Max Mitchell added significant contributions as fourth-round picks, and even Jeremy Ruckert showed promise as a blocker in the final game of the season.
While Douglas’s 2022 draft appears to have come up aces early on, his once-lauded 2021 draft had the bottom fall out. Zach Wilson looks like an all-time bust. Rather than emerging as a star, Elijah Moore was underutilized, requested a trade, and then never fully reintegrated as a primary contributor on the Jets’ offense. Michael Carter went from a steal in the fourth round to the offseason RB3 after a miserable campaign in which he looked nothing like his 2021 self. Michael Carter II was the lone player to perform as expected, although he had some struggles down the stretch.
The Jets still have other young players on the roster, including Quinnen Williams, Tony Adams, Bryce Huff, Zonovan Knight, and Mekhi Becton. There is a fantastic young core to build around, but the overall returns on the youth were still mixed.
Here were my game-by-game predictions for 2022:
- vs. Baltimore Ravens: Loss (0-1) ✅
- at Cleveland Browns: Win (1-1) ✅
- vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Loss (1-2) ✅
- at Pittsburgh Steelers: Loss (1-3) ❎
- vs. Miami Dolphins: Win (2-3) ✅
- at Green Bay Packers: Loss (2-4) ❎
- at Denver Broncos: Loss (2-5) ❎
- vs. New England Patriots: Win (3-5) ❎
- vs. Buffalo Bills: Loss (3-6) ❎
- at New England Patriots: Loss (3-7) ✅
- vs. Chicago Bears: Win (4-7) ✅
- at Minnesota Vikings: Loss (4-8) ✅
- at Buffalo Bills: Loss (4-9) ✅
- vs. Detroit Lions: Win (5-9) ❎
- vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Win (6-9) ❎
- at Seattle Seahawks: Win (7-9) ❎
- at Miami Dolphins: Loss (7-10) ✅
I went 9-8 in my predictions, but I could have been a lot stronger if not for those three consecutive losses in winnable games to Detroit, Jacksonville, and Seattle. Despite the fact that all three of these teams exceeded expectations in 2022, the Jets that played in the first half of the season would have won at least two if not all three of these games. Unfortunately, the post-bye Jets looked completely different, more like the bottom-feeder that Vegas predicted than the division contender that they appeared after beating the Bills.
My 7-10 final record prediction was spot on. I think 7-10 or 8-9 were the most popular preseason picks for the Jets, which would ordinarily indicate that the team met expectations. However, their collapse down the stretch puts a bitter taste in the mouths of fans.
Jet X writer predictions
|Robby Sabo||Michael Nania||Andrew Golden||Rivka Boord||Vitor Paiva||Joe Blewett|
|AFC East finish||2||3||3||4||2||3|
|AFC playoff seed||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||7||N/A|
|Playoff record (team to knock them off)||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||0-1 (Kansas City Chiefs, Wild Card)||N/A|
|Team MVP||Sauce Gardner||Elijah Moore||Carl Lawson||Elijah Moore||Carl Lawson||Quinnen Williams|
|Offensive Player of the Year||Alijah Vera-Tucker||Elijah Moore||Elijah Moore||Elijah Moore||Elijah Moore||Elijah Moore|
|Defensive Player of the Year||Sauce Gardner||Quinnen Williams||Carl Lawson||Carl Lawson||Quinnen Williams||Quinnen Williams|
|Rookie of the Year||Sauce Gardner||Breece Hall||Sauce Gardner||Sauce Gardner||Breece Hall||Sauce Gardner|
|Coach of the Year||Tony Oden (Defensive assistant - cornerbacks)||Tony Oden||Aaron Whitecotton (defensive line coach)||Tony Oden||John Benton (offensive line coach/run game coordinator)/Mike LaFleur (offensive coordinator)||Tony Oden|
|Most surprising player||Jamien Sherwood||Michael Carter II||Jordan Whitehead||Micheal Clemons||Kwon Alexander||Tyler Conklin|
|Most disappointing player||C.J. Mosley||Laken Tomlinson||Lamarcus Joyner||Quincy Williams||C.J. Uzomah||Lamarcus Joyner|
|NFL rank - offensive yards||18||19||18||18||14||17|
|NFL rank - defensive yards||8||20||15||20||21||20|
|NFL rank - offensive points||16||16||16||19||13||16|
|NFL rank - defensive points||13||14||13||19||15||18|
|NFL rank - offensive DVOA||16||18||17||19||11||17|
|NFL rank - defensive DVOA||10||14||14||16||16||19|
|NFL rank - special teams DVOA||11||12||5||8||3||10|
|2023 first-round pick slot||18||15||12||10||22||13|
|Pro Bowlers||Alijah Vera-Tucker, Sauce Gardner||Quinnen Williams, Elijah Moore||Carl Lawson, Elijah Moore, Sauce Gardner||Laken Tomlinson, Carl Lawson||Alijah Vera-Tucker, Quinnen Williams||Elijah Moore|
|All-Pros||Sauce Gardner||N/A||Braxton Berrios (KR)||N/A||Alijah Vera-Tucker||N/A|
|Zach Wilson's stat line (max 14 games - completion %, yards, TD, INT)||58%, 1,575 yards, 8 TD, 6 INT||63.8%, 3,090 yards, 21 TD, 12 INT||62.7%, 3,128 yards, 22 TD, 11 INT||63%, 3,200 yards, 19 TD, 11 INT||60%, 2,800 yards, 20 TD, 10 INT||64%, 18 TDs, 10 INTs|
|Rushing yards leader||Breece Hall||Breece Hall||Breece Hall||Breece Hall||Breece Hall||Breece Hall|
|Receiving yards leader||Elijah Moore||Elijah Moore||Elijah Moore||Elijah Moore||Elijah Moore||Elijah Moore|
|Receptions leader||Elijah Moore||Elijah Moore||Elijah Moore||Tyler Conklin||Tyler Conklin||Elijah Moore|
|Sacks leader||Jacob Martin||Carl Lawson||Carl Lawson||Carl Lawson||Carl Lawson||Carl Lawson|
|Tackles leader||Jamien Sherwood||C.J. Mosley||C.J. Mosley||C.J. Mosley||Kwon Alexander||C.J. Mosley|
|Interceptions leader||Tony Adams||D.J. Reed||Sauce Gardner||D.J. Reed||Jordan Whitehead||D.J. Reed|
Robby Sabo, Andrew Golden, Joe Blewett, and I were all correct in our 7-10 prediction. Only I nailed that this would be a fourth-place finish, though. (I’m not gloating too much considering that my midseason prediction included an 11-6 finish and a trip to the AFC Championship.)
Blewett nailed Quinnen Williams as the Team MVP, although Robby’s pick of Sauce Gardner wasn’t too shabby. The rest of us slacked off with Carl Lawson and Elijah Moore.
Robby was closer with his guy Alijah Vera-Tucker for Offensive Player of the Year. The rest of us promoted the Moore hype train and are now left to wonder if it was we or the Jets who went so wrong.
Michael, Vitor, and Joe all nailed Quinnen Williams as the Defensive Player of the Year. We’d have to ask them if they expected Quinnen to take this big of a leap since none of them predicted that he’d lead the team in sacks.
At Rookie of the Year, Sauce Gardner and Breece Hall were both good picks. The shocker was that Garrett Wilson became a star in Year 1. His skillset may allow him to be the best Jets player for the longest (although given the Year 2 dropoff of the Jets’ last two highly drafted WRs, perhaps we should wait a little longer before crowning Garrett).
We nailed the Tony Oden Coach of the Year pick. Aaron Whitecotton was a solid pick, as well, considering the Jets’ underachieving safeties. Sorry, Vitor; John Benton had a firable season.
I don’t think any of us nailed the most surprising player pick. The closest was Kwon Alexander. Michael Carter II performed about where we would’ve expected after his rookie year. Jamien Sherwood barely played on defense. Jordan Whitehead could’ve been most disappointing. Tyler Conklin was uneven. Micheal Clemons did contribute, but he wasn’t outstanding.
Michael nailed the most disappointing player in Laken Tomlinson. Andrew and Joe were not far behind with Lamarcus Joyner, although I don’t believe he was much worse than expectations, which were pretty low. Vitor’s pick of C.J. Uzomah is pretty stellar, as well. I don’t think Quincy Williams could qualify as a disappointment.
The Jets finished the season ranked 25th in offensive yards per game with 318.2, a highly disappointing number that was lower than all our writers’ expectations. However, they ranked fourth in defensive yards per game with 311.1, a major leap from 2021 and far better than our expectations. Robby was the most sanguine about the team’s yards per game, but even he underestimated the defense.
A 29th finish with 17.4 offensive points per game is brutal, 10 places below my lowest-ranked 19th. Once again, the team exceeded expectations defensively, ranking fourth with 18.6 points allowed per game.
In offensive DVOA, we were also too high on the Jets, as they finished 26th, also nearly 10 spots below the most pessimistic of our predictions. However, the Jets finished fifth in defensive DVOA, which exceeded even Robby’s expectations.
The special teams was also a huge disappointment. We predicted they’d rank no lower than 12th, but the Jets were actually 21st in special teams DVOA. Braden Mann and Braxton Berrios should both be gone after that kind of showing.
Joe Blewett nailed the Jets’ No. 13 pick slot, with Michael and Robby not too far behind. Michael, Andrew, and Joe nailed their Pro Bowl picks of Quinnen Williams and Sauce Gardner, and Robby is in good shape to nail his All-Pro prediction for Sauce, too. If not for AVT’s injury, Vitor might have been right on that one, too.
I’m not even going to go over Zach Wilson’s stats because of the topsy-turvy season he had; suffice it to say that he was far worse than even the most pessimistic projections.
All of us nailed the Breece Hall rushing yards lead, even though Breece played only seven games. That speaks to the utter ineptitude of the Jets’ rushing game in his absence, although it may have as much to do with AVT’s loss as Breece’s. In the same vein, we were all wrong about Elijah Moore’s team lead in receiving yards and either Moore or Tyler Conklin in receptions. None of us were right about Carl Lawson’s sack lead, either, although he did rank second with seven. (Who remembers that Jacob Martin was even on this team?)
Most of us nailed the C.J. Mosley tackles lead. None of us were right about Joyner leading the team in picks.
None of us were too close in our comments about the team, although the Jets do still appear ready for the playoffs in 2023 if they get a QB. I was right about Breece Hall and Sauce Gardner competing for their respective Rookie of the Year awards. However, Zach Wilson did not take any leap, the Jets’ ground game ground to a halt, Robert Saleh went from an early Coach of the Year candidate to a hot seat candidate for 2023, and the Jets crumbled in the second half of the season rather than starting slow and finishing strong. Elijah Moore also did not become a star.
Keys and storylines to 2022
My chosen keys to the season were Zach Wilson’s development, the ability to run the football and control the clock, rookies looking like future cornerstones, defensive cohesion and scheme, and cornerback excellence and interceptions. You could say that all of these were keys to the season, for good or bad.
Sauce, Breece, and Garrett Wilson all look like franchise cornerstones, and the defense did overall look more cohesive as a unit. D.J. Reed and Sauce Gardner became the best cornerback duo in the league, but they only combined for three total interceptions. Getting their heads turned around will definitely be more of a focus in 2023.
The Jets could not run the football once Breece Hall went down, and that was related to lackluster play from Michael Carter, James Robinson, and C.J. Uzomah in addition to the offensive line turnover. Coupled with poor QB play, it’s unsurprising that the Jets ranked 29th in points scored.
Other storylines I included were the offensive line, which was disastrous and ravaged by injuries; linebacker and safety, which were the weakest links on the Jets’ defense, as expected; and hitting the 40 sack mark, which the Jets did for the first time since 2014.
|Robby Sabo||Michael Nania||Rivka Boord||Vitor Paiva|
|AFC East winner (record)||Bills (11-6)||Bills (13-4)||Bills (13-4)||Bills (14-3)|
|AFC North winner (record)||Ravens (12-5)||Bengals (12-5)||Ravens (12-5)||Bengals (12-5)|
|AFC South winner (record)||Colts (10-7)||Colts (9-8)||Colts (10-7)||Colts (11-6)|
|AFC West winner (record)||Chargers (13-4)||Chargers (12-5)||Chiefs (12-5)||Chiefs (13-4)|
|AFC Wild Card 1 (record)||Broncos (11-6)||Chiefs (11-6)||Chargers (12-5)||Chargers (11-6)|
|AFC Wild Card 2 (record)||Bengals (9-8)||Broncos (10-7)||Bengals (11-6)||Steelers (10-7)|
|AFC Wild Card 3 (record)||Raiders (9-8)||Ravens (10-7)||Raiders (10-7)||Jets (10-7)|
|NFC East winner (record)||Cowboys (10-7)||Eagles (12-5)||Eagles (11-6)||Eagles (12-5)|
|NFC North winner (record)||Packers (10-7)||Vikings (11-6)||Packers (12-5)||Packers (11-6)|
|NFC South winner (record)||Buccaneers (13-4)||Saints (11-6)||Buccaneers (11-6)||Saints (12-5)|
|NFC West winner (record)||Rams (12-5)||49ers (13-4)||Rams (10-7)||49ers (12-5)|
|NFC Wild Card 1 (record)||49ers (10-7)||Packers (10-7)||Saints (11-6)||Rams (12-5)|
|NFC Wild Card 2 (record)||Saints (9-8)||Buccaneers (10-7)||49ers (10-7)||Buccaneers (11-6)|
|NFC Wild Card 3 (record)||Vikings (9-8)||Cardinals (9-8)||Vikings (10-7)||Cowboys (11-6)|
|AFC Champion (runner up)||Chargers (Broncos)||Bills (Chargers)||Chargers (Bills)||Bills|
|NFC Champion (runner up)||Buccaneers (49ers)||Eagles (49ers)||Eagles (Saints)||Buccaneers|
|Super Bowl Champion (runner up)||Chargers (Buccaneers)||Bills (Eagles)||Chargers (Eagles)||Bills (Buccaneers)|
|Super Bowl MVP||Justin Herbert||Josh Allen||Justin Herbert||Josh Allen|
|NFL MVP||Justin Herbert||Josh Allen||Justin Herbert||Tom Brady|
|Offensive Player of the Year||Ja'Marr Chase||Austin Ekeler||Justin Jefferson||Ja'Marr Chase|
|Defensive Player of the Year||Micah Parsons||Micah Parsons||Myles Garrett||Minkah Fitzpatrick|
|Offensive Rookie of the Year||Tyler Allgeier (RB, ATL)||Breece Hall||Treylon Burks||Breece Hall|
|Defensive Rookie of the Year||Sauce Gardner||Aidan Hutchinson||Jordan Davis||Aidan Hutchinson|
|Comeback Player of the Year||Jameis Winston||Michael Thomas||Jameis Winston||Carson Wentz|
|Coach of the Year||Brandon Staley, Chargers||Brandon Staley||Kevin O'Connell, Vikings||Robert Saleh|
|No. 1 overall pick, 2023||Seahawks||Bears||Bears||Bears|
|No. 2 overall pick, 2023||Texans||Falcons||Falcons||Texans|
|No. 3 overall pick, 2023||Lions||Seahawks||Giants||Giants|
|No. 4 overall pick, 2023||Jaguars||Titans||Texans||Jaguars|
|No. 5 overall pick, 2023||Commanders||Texans||Seahawks||Seahawks|
Although the postseason has not happened yet, we might as well review our leaguewide regular-season predictions here, as well.
All of us whiffed badly on the Colts winning the AFC South, but we nailed the Bills in the East, as expected. Whether you picked the Ravens or Bengals in the North division nearly came down to a coin flip. The Chiefs and Chargers both made the playoffs, even though Vitor and I nailed the order. The Broncos and Raiders look like cringeworthy wild-card picks in hindsight.
In the NFC, most of us picked the Eagles correctly, but that’s where any consensus ended. The Packers as a division winner was a bad mistake, as were the Rams and Saints. The Cardinals were the main egregious wild-card pick.
Although we don’t know the award winners yet, I may have been spot-on with Justin Jefferson for Offensive Player of the Year. Somehow, none of us picked Patrick Mahomes for MVP. Micah Parsons as a Defensive Player of the Year doesn’t look bad, although Nick Bosa may have overtaken him toward the end of the season.
It’s likely that Robby nailed the Sauce Gardner pick for Defensive Rookie of the Year. None of us got close with the Offensive Rookie of the Year, although Breece Hall would’ve run away with it if not for his injury. Tyler Allgeier wasn’t a bad pick by Robby, either, except that he split carries with Cordarrelle Patterson. We were also pretty far off on the Comeback Player of the Year, although who will actually win it is a mystery.
My pick of Kevin O’Connell as the Coach of the Year likely won’t go through, but it’s still better than the Brandon Staley choice. If not for a cupcake schedule down the stretch, Staley would have been closer to getting fired than winning awards.
For the top five picks, it’s amazing that some of us had playoff teams listed. While three of us nailed the Bears at No. 1 and we all had the Texans in the top five, the Giants, Jaguars, and Seahawks all managed to find their way onto this list. While the Seahawks do have a top-five pick due to the Broncos’ disastrous season under Russell Wilson, that was not what we were referring to when we picked them. The Titans also managed to stay outside the top 10 despite having the bottom fall out after a 7-3 start. The Lions nearly snuck into the playoffs after a 1-6 start.
None of us had a clue what we were talking about prior to 2022. It’s funny to look back and see what perceptions were of teams vs. what actually happens. However, this is part of the parity of football: there have been at least four new playoff teams in 33 consecutive seasons, an astounding streak.
The Jets hope to finally end their NFL-worst (and soon-to-be four-major-sport-worst) 12-season playoff drought in 2023. They’re once again looking for a new QB and offensive line, but there is enough continuity at other core positions to have hope that we will all predict a playoff berth next season.