The New York Jets have been rebuilding for eons, or so it would appear.
Believe it or not, the Jets have some things working for them. That said, there's a yang to that yin. Here are five strengths and weaknesses for the New York Jets heading into 2021.
New York Jets' strengths
#1 - Robert Saleh
Unlike predecessor Adam Gase, new Jets head coach Robert Saleh recently coached in a Super Bowl. Saleh is coming from a winning organization with the San Francisco 49ers, where he was as defensive coordinator. Saleh's personality is large and loud enough to potentially change the culture of a team that desperately needs it. He could end up being a sneakily good hire.
#2 - New starting quarterback
The Jets have a new starting quarterback and are hoping that Zach Wilson can be the same catalyst for change as Baker Mayfield was for the Cleveland Browns. Sometimes, one pick can mean all the difference and carve out some hope in a box of despair. For the Jets, anything is possible with a prospect like Zach Wilson.
#3 - CJ Mosley
The signing of CJ Mosley has not worked out as planned for the New York Jets. Since signing him before the 2019 season, the linebacker has played in only two games. However, in his brief time on the field, he earned a pick-six. With Mosley back on the field in 2021, fans have reason to believe there's a chance at a better season on defense.
#4 - It can only get better after 2-14
When teams win two games in a season, they are almost guaranteed to do better the following season. No way to go but up and all that.
It does not matter who is on the team or what the circumstances are, it's extremely tough to follow a two-win season with one that's worse.
#5 - Quinnen Williams
Quinnen Williams is coming off a solid season for the New York Jets. He was drafted with the third pick in the draft and has proven to be a solid addition to the team. In 2020, Williams had eight sacks and two forced fumbles, earning an 81.4 PFF grade.
New York Jets' weaknesses
#1 - Rookie head coach
Robert Saleh gives Jets fans plenty of hope. However, he is still a rookie head coach. As a result, Saleh will likely make some mistakes managing games this season, possibly resulting in losses. Like with quarterbacks, Saleh will hopefully learn and become a better coach week to week. That said, there will be plenty of mistakes en route.
#2 - Rookie quarterback with no mentor
Zach Wilson does not have a mentor. Behind Wilson are James Morgan and Mike White. Morgan was a rookie last season and is unqualified to act as a mentor. Meanwhile, Mike White might not make the team. Wilson will have to do it all on his own, which could slow down his development and lead to some "learning moments" mid-game in the form of interceptions.
#3 - Lamarcus Joyner
Other offenses will be picking on this safety on game day. 2020 was a rough season for Joyner, who earned a 53.8 PFF score. 2019's score was even lower at 47.5. The Jets are hoping he can return to playing at a level not seen since he was a member of the Los Angeles Rams in 2018. Will he rebound after two years of sub-par play?
#4 - Tight end
The Jets need work at a lot of spots and tight end is one of them. Last season, starter Chris Herndon earned only 287 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games. In 2019, Herndon only played just one game. 2021 will need to be a big year for him or the Jets will have no choice but to address the position in 2022.
#5 - Coming off a 2-14 season
On the bright side, the Jets will likely win more than two games next season by default. However, it does not guarantee they are in for a good season.
Losing teams tend to continue to lose in the NFL, especially teams that see seasons this low. This is because there are usually bigger problems in addition to a simple lack of talent.
Best case scenario, the Jets fix their issues with their culture en route to a roughly .500 season (8-9 or 9-8). This is likely to be the ceiling for the Jets.
The ceiling assumes Saleh works out well, Wilson takes off quickly, and players across the roster all bounce back or break out this year. With so many "ifs," it seems extremely unlikely to see any instant results in 2021.