Throughout the offseason, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg, Randy Lange and Caroline Hendershot will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: Will the Jets have a top 10 offense and defense in 2023?
EA: Yes. The offense has to just look across the locker room for an example of how dramatic a jump can happen from year to year. After finishing 32nd in scoring (29.6 pts/g) and total defense (397.6 yds/g) and 28th in yards per play (5.90) in 2021, the Jets jumped to 4th in scoring (18.6 pts/g) and total defense (311.1 yds/g) and 2nd in yard per play (4.84). Last season, the Jets offense finished 28th in scoring (17.4 pts/g), 25th in total offense (318.2 yds/g) and 27th in yards per play (5.94). While the defense drafted CB Sauce Gardner last spring and added CB D.J. Reed in free agency, it also got back a healthy Carl Lawson. The Jets have a new offensive coordinator in Nathaniel Hackett, but they'll have a quarterback in Aaron Rodgers who not only has thrived in the Hackett's system, but remains one of the best players in the sport. While it won't always be smooth in the transition, Rodgers is elite and he will make everyone around him better. The Jets will field a top 10 defense AND a top 10 offense next season.
EG: It's hard to argue against this. The Jets had the NFL's No. 4 defense in 2022. It's hard to repeat in the NFL, but the Green & White hasn't had a lot of changes on defense and added some new pieces, like S Chuck Clark and DE Will McDonald, the team's first-round pick in April. The second-year players on defense – Sauce Gardner, Jermaine Johnson and Micheal Clemons – all had a full NFL offseason to develop their gamesand should be better players in 2023. Even if the defense slipped a little, the personnel is mostly the same and I don't see the unit falling outside of the top 10. On offense, the Jets have top-end talent with players like Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall and depth at each position. QB Aaron Rodgers led the league's No. 17 offense in 2022 playing the majority of the season with a broken thumb. In 2021, Rodgers and the Packers had the No. 10 offense and No. 5 the year before that. Rodgers has the necessary weapons at his disposal for the Green & White to have a top-10 offense.
The Jets welcomed the Acumen Performance Group, a group of retired U.S. Navy SEALs to 1 Jets Drive to partake in team building, leadership and communication exercises.
RL: Why not? Aaron Rodgers' Packers were top-10 in offensive and defensive yardage twice in the past three years — his last two NFL MVP years (5th/9th in 2020, 10th/9th in '21, both playoff seasons). And HC Robert Saleh knows what that kind of team feels like, since the 49ers in 2019 were fourth on offense and second on defense and went to Super Bowl LIV with Saleh as their DC. On the other hand, consider that Patrick Mahomes has been a starter for five seasons and the Chiefs, while a playoff team in all of them and a Super Bowl team in three of them, were a double top-10 yardage team in none of them. There are lots of important statistical categories, but the most important top-10 ranking is wins. A team in that top-10 usually has 10-plus wins and usually is in the tournament. That's where the Jets need to be next January, no matter what any other rankings say. And that's where I think they'll be.
CH: Yes, I think the Jets will have a top 10 offense and top 10 defense this season. After ranking last in 2021, the Jets' defense ranked 4thby the end of the 2022 season. Much of that credit is due to the play of Quinnen Williams (12 sacks and 2 forced fumbles), the cornerback combination of DJ Reed and Sauce Gardner (who also won DROY); and a linebacker room led by C.J. Mosley. Not only will all those key players return to the defense, but the Green & White also added S Chuck Clark, DT Al Woods, and newest draft pick DE Will McDonald this offseason. On offense, the Jets have only gotten better. Obviously, the biggest name is QB Aaron Rodgers who will be at the helm of the offense this season. He also has plenty of help surrounding him. Not only is the OROY returning in WR Garrett Wilson, but WR Allen Lazard, WR Mecole Hardman Jr., WR Randall Cobb, and newly drafted RB Izzy Abanikanda all joined the Jets. The Jets were only a QB away last season from being a complete team headed for the playoffs, and they've added more depth on offense and on defense.