The Jets moved to 4-3 on the season with an improbable 13-10 overtime win over the Giants on Sunday. They’ll be looking to ride that momentum into the second half of the year and put an end to their league-worst 12-year postseason drought.
Here are some things they need to work on and questions that need to be answered over the rest of the season:
Is there any injury this team can’t overcome?
To their credit, the Jets have remained competitive despite some devastating injury issues. They beat the Buffalo Bills despite losing Aaron Rodgers, the Denver Broncos despite losing Alijah Vera-Tucker and the Giants despite losing their starting center and his backup. They even beat the Philadelphia Eagles without their two starting cornerbacks -- DJ Reed and Sauce Gardner.
This speaks to the depth of their roster and the adaptability of the coaching staff to smartly deploy some of their more flexible players in different roles and remain competitive. However, there must come a point when there will be an injury that they have no way of scheming around.
How would the team cope if CJ Mosley and/or Quincy Williams were to miss time? Surely there would be a drop-off if stud defensive tackle Quinnen Williams went down. The offense would take a major hit if Breece Hall or Garrett Wilson were to get injured, with their other backs and receivers having been underwhelming.
As impressive as it’s been to see the team overcome these constant blows, an injury to any of the above players could be the final straw that prevents them from being able to remain competitive against good teams.
Will the turnovers dry up after the bye week again?
Last season, the Jets started off 7-4 but lost their last six games to fall out of postseason contention. Perhaps the main reason for this late-season collapse was the fact that they only forced one turnover in those six games.
The Jets have won 11 games since the start of last season and the win over the Giants was the first in which they lost the turnover battle, which goes to show how important it is for the Jets to force turnovers.
Ironically, it may be down to the offense showing improvements to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself in 2023. If opposing teams know that the Jets aren’t going to generate much offense or are likely to turn the ball over if they try to do so, then they will be happy to play conservatively and hope that the Jets beat themselves.
If they are to create more turnovers, the focus turns to Gardner and Reed, who have been outstanding over the past two seasons -- but it’s over a year since either of them intercepted a pass.
Who needs to step it up over the second half of the season?
As ever, the Jets need more consistent play from the quarterback position, and if Zach Wilson can provide that it gives them their best chance of staying in the postseason race. If he can’t, the team may need to think about alternative short-term options. Wilson has just five touchdown passes, three of which came in losses.
It’s not just Wilson who needs to step up, though. The production from players like Dalvin Cook, Tyler Conklin, Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard has been down on their 2022 output and they have just one touchdown between them.
On the defensive side of the ball, Quinnen Williams has been having another disruptive season, but you’d expect him to generate more sacks over the second half of the year. After racking up 12 to go to his first Pro Bowl last year, Williams has just half a sack in the first seven games.
Which areas must the Jets see significant improvement in to remain competitive?
There are a few obvious places where the Jets have been abysmal in their first seven games, and they can really improve their overall outlook by making improvements in these areas. One is on their opening drives, where they have been forced to punt all seven times so far this year. They’ve also struggled on third down and in the red zone. Finally, they seem to be inconsistent at converting in short yardage situations.
It’s not just on offense where the team has some obvious areas where they can improve. The defense has consistently been better in the second half than in the first half and have been extending too many drives with costly penalties.
As good as they’ve been, the Jets have allowed at least one touchdown drive of 75 yards or more in every single game so far, so they need to try to avoid allowing long drives that wear the defensive personnel down and take their own offense out of rhythm.
What will this team look like when Aaron Rodgers is ready to return?
While it would seem irrational to get caught up in any talk of Rodgers returning to action this season, every move or personnel decision the team makes between now and the date of his actual return will be made with an eye on how the team will operate with him back at the helm.
The team’s main priority will still be to try to win every week and get into the postseason if they can, which will if nothing else be valuable experience for this year’s roster. However, they’ll also be looking ahead to who will be back next year. And we may start to see some players either being phased out or pushed into a bigger role as the season goes on.
That the team has remained competitive without Rodgers to this point bodes well for their chances of contending next year if they can get him back healthy.