Throughout the offseason, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg, Randy Lange, Caroline Hendershot and John Pullano will give their responses to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: What did the playoffs tell us about the Jets' chances to be in postseason play in 2024?
EA: The AFC was good this season — it will be better in 2024. Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes are back in the Super Bowl, competing in the title game for a fourth time in five seasons and aiming for a third ring since Feb. 2, 2020. The Chiefs are a modern-day dynasty. Jim Harbaugh will make the Chargers better immediately and he starts with a huge foundational piece in QB Justin Herbert. C.J. Stroud looks like a young star in Houston and the Texans will continue to build around him. The AFC North had 3 playoff entries and the Bengals will get the cold-blooded Joe Burrow back and he'll be on a mission. The cap will force the Bills to make significant roster changes, but they've owned the AFC East AB (after Brady). Josh Allen is a top-three player in football and they went toe-to-toe with the Chiefs. Miami has been a playoff team two straight years under head coach Mike McDaniel and they have the pieces in place to remain an explosive offense. Ten wins was the cut line this season, so that has to be the floor for a Jets club that will be led by Aaron Rodgers and will face six playoff teams from 2023 (two vs. Buffalo and Miami, vs. Houston, vs. LA Rams, at San Francisco and at Pittsburgh).
EG: The playoffs told me that the Jets have the talent to be in the mix. Defensively, the Green & White can compete with anyone. You could make the argument the Jets defense is better than the units playing in the Super Bowl. The offense will be better in 2024 with Aaron Rodgers under center and the Jets have a lot of talent on that side of the ball. Time will tell how good the group will be and there are certainly questions – how good will Rodgers be after his Achilles injury? What will the offensive line look like? – but Rodgers doesn't have to be Superman with a running back like Breece Hall and a top-five defense. The AFC is crowded and some teams, like the Bengals, are poised to be back in the hunt with QB Joe Burrow's return to the lineup. The NFL is certainly unpredictable, but the Jets are not far off from competing with the teams that made the playoffs in 2023.
RL: A great feature of the NFL postseason is that if a team needs examples and roadmaps to get it fired up for its own postseason foray, those tools are always available. Last month, the Texans, with a rookie HC and rookie QB, overcame 3 straight 4-wins-or-fewer seasons to go 10-7, then pounded the Browns in the wild card round before exiting. The Steelers looked like old news at 7-7 before winning their last 3 and getting into the AFC grid. Green Bay post-Aaron Rodgers started 3-6 before having a Love-ly 6-2 finish to squeak in on the National side. And the Lions, after 6 straight non-PO seasons, 4 of them deep under .500, responded behind Jared Goff for a 12-5 record and a march to the NFC title game. As for the Jets, 7-10 was tough to take, but the wins over playoff qualifiers Buffalo on opening night, Philadelphia for the first time ever and the aforementioned Texans in a 30-6 rout were suggestive of their top-ranked defense and a locker room still teeming with talent and determination. Now it's Groundhog Year with a healthy and presumably well-protected ARod taking the offense's reins again. Time for the Jets to write their own long-delayed Hollywood playoff script in 2024.
CH:Anything in possible in the NFL. The Packers and Buccaneers pulled off upsets over the Cowboys and the Eagles, respectively, in the NFC Wildcard Round while the Lions edged the Rams by 1 point. On the other hand, the Texans, Chiefs and Bills and cruised through the AFC Wildcard Round with wins by at least 17 points. Every playoff team was doubted as to how good they are. The 49ers, representing the NFC in the Super Bowl, were questioned after their three-game losing streak to the Browns, Vikings and Bengals. The Jets, 7-9, had four games this season (Patriots Week 3, Chiefs, Raiders and Falcons) that were determined by five points or less. With wins in those four games, they would have been 11-6, the same record as the AFC East Champion Bills and Dolphins, who clinched a playoff berth. If the Green & White are able to close one-possession games with their healthy QB Aaron Rodgers next season, the team could likely be in a spot to snap their playoff drought.
JP: The AFC in 2024 will again be a gauntlet highlighted by an elite group of quarterbacks: future Hall of Famer Patrick Mahomes, Buffalo's Josh Allen, Baltimore's Lamar Jackson, who could be named 2023 MVP, the return of the Bengals' franchise signal-caller Joe Burrow and the continued emergence of the Texans' rookie phenom C.J. Stroud. Luckily for the Jets, the 2023-24 NFL playoffs tells them a strong defense paired with an elite QB is a recipe to win in the postseason. Of the eight teams that made the Divisional Round, all but the Detroit Lions ranked in the top 11 in points allowed on defense during the regular season. On the other hand, just four of those eight teams ranked in the top-11 in points scored. The Jets defense finished No. 12 in points allowed even though their offense was No. 25 in time of possession. With the return of QB Aaron Rodgers, the Jets will have one of those elite signal-callers, which will raise the offense and take the burden off the defense. The Green & White are building the right team to contend, they just need health to be on their side.