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A deep dive into the crucial aspects that could shape the New York Jets’ 2023 season is as exciting as it is essential. At JetCast, we strive to unravel unseen factors and coherently present them to our audience. A recent analysis of the most promising, most dismal, and most feasible outcomes for the Jets in 2023 was enlightening. Yet, we felt the need to delve deeper into the specifics that could be the deciding factors for the team’s success or failure.
While singling out Aaron Rodgers would be a no-brainer, we want to look beyond the quarterback. The importance of the signal-caller for any team is undeniable, but the last instance of a defense leading its team to the Super Bowl happened with the Broncos in 2015. Such a scenario is rare. So, let’s explore less apparent factors that could impact the Jets’ 2023 season.
Robustness of the Defense
The Jets’ defense demonstrated remarkable durability in 2023. Michael Nania highlights how the Jets’ defense relies heavily on its key players, operating with a straightforward defense strategy that seldom aims to bewilder the opponent. Instead, the Jets focus on outperforming their rivals. This approach, piloted by players such as Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers, Sauce Gardner, and D.J. Reed, proved effective in 2022.
However, this also implies that the health of these key defensive players is of utmost importance. Unlike Rex Ryan’s strategy of baffling the opponent with intricate blitzes and rotations to offset talent gaps, the 2023 Jets do not have this advantage. An injury to Williams, Gardner, Reed, or C.J. Mosley could be disastrous.
Rise of the Underperformers
Several underperformers marked the Jets’ 2022 season, many of whom were free-agent signees. Laken Tomlinson was the most noticeable, as his poor performance was the most significant X-factor besides the quarterback. Expected to strengthen the guard position, Tomlinson instead became a constant weak link.
Additionally, Tyler Conklin did not live up to the expectations during the 2022 season despite being the favored target during training camp. He ended the season with decent individual stats but failed to make a significant impact on the games.
Corey Davis also did not perform as expected, although fans might place more blame on him than deserved. Davis did have several crucial receptions in 2023 and, according to the film, is more reliable than Allen Lazard.
Carl Lawson was only average in 2022, despite being paid like an elite player. Although his role may diminish somewhat in 2023 due to the selection of Will McDonald, he will likely still get the most snap share at right defensive end. The Jets need a bigger impact from Lawson.
The position of tackle for the Jets is a critical factor that cannot be overlooked. The Jets can perhaps manage if either Duane Brown or Mekhi Becton struggles or is injured in 2023. However, the team cannot afford both to have a weak season. Both players face significant health and performance questions.
The free safety issue has been extensively discussed on this platform. Presently, the Jets have two starting strong safeties but no genuine deep safety. This was a problem in 2022, and it remains a concern now. The only player on the Jets’ roster who could possibly be a solution is Tony Adams. The team’s plans at safety are still unknown, but it’s clear that the Jets do not prioritize this position.
I have criticized Robert Saleh on multiple fronts. For one, I disagree with the team’s overall defensive philosophy of relying on talent over scheme. I believe that a combination of both is necessary to sustain success. Saleh’s run-first mindset offensively is not in line with today’s NFL.
Saleh’s approach to fourth-down decision-making is too conservative. In 2023, Saleh needs to coach like someone who wants to win rather than one who is trying not to lose. This means changing tendencies more often and generally being more creative and innovative.