New York Jets: Don’t expect playoffs in 2021 despite new chapter

New York Jets (Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports/Syndication: NorthJersey)
New York Jets (Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports/Syndication: NorthJersey) /

While the New York Jets have managed to turn over a new leaf, fans shouldn’t expect the team to reach the playoffs in 2021.

In the 2020 season, the New York Jets sported the second-worst record in the NFL and a head coach, Adam Gase, that a majority of the fan base didn’t want to begin with. Sam Darnold looked like a shell of himself and the team was full of players on offense who wouldn’t be starters on other teams in the league.

But with Gase now fired and armed with two first-round picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, many fans are optimistic on the future of the team. But they shouldn’t jump into the mindset that the team is ready to compete in 2021.

The Jets and general manager Joe Douglas hired Robert Saleh to replace Gase as the next head coach of the team. Saleh showed he was an excellent leader of men, coaching a depleted 49ers defensive unit to be an upper-third group in the league. While that bodes well for a Jets team whose defense was a source of strength in 2020, it doesn’t answer all of the questions.

Darnold took a noticeable step backward this past year. While he’s still only 23 years old and the new regime has expressed confidence in him, that hasn’t stopped Douglas from inquiring on quarterbacks made available by other teams. Rumors indicate there’s a strong likelihood that Darnold gets traded and the team pursues a quarterback elsewhere.

So what’s next for the New York Jets in rebuilding?

In all likelihood, the Jets will use the No. 2 pick in April’s draft to select a quarterback. Douglas has echoed the sentiment of the team building through the trenches and, despite doing a “sexy” rebuild locking in big-name players to contracts, this is the way to go.

The offensive line was atrocious this past season, having the second-worst pass-blocking grade and finishing 19th in run-blocking, per PFF. Fortunately for the Jets, there is a plethora of talented offensive linemen hitting free agency. Joe Thuney, Brandon Scherff, Corey Linsley and Taylor Moton are only a few in a studded free agent class.

On the other side of the ball, the Jets need to find a way to rush the passer. The team hasn’t had a player achieve 10 sacks in a season since Muhammad Wilkerson in 2015. That’s half a decade of opposing offenses not having to worry about game-planning against a specific player on the defense.

With Saleh bringing his 4-3 defense over, there are quite a few players in the draft and free agency for the team to target to hopefully change that narrative for the next few years. Despite the team striking out in year’s past, Douglas can’t let that stop him from targeting these players.

By solidifying a core in the trenches, it can allow the team to find value players at positions such as wide receiver and cornerback, which are also positions of need on the team. It allows the Jets to hide deficiencies, which makes it easier for Saleh and company to create a game plan for the week.

So far, Douglas has been doing things the right way for the team. It’s unlikely he goes on an overpriced spending spree such as the one former GM Mike Maccagnan displayed in 2015 that saw the Jets briefly return to relevance.

Next. 2021 NFL Mock Draft: Post-Super Bowl 3-round mock. dark

Having success in 2021 isn’t nearly as important as having success for the rest of the decade. So, while the New York Jets probably won’t make the playoffs in 2021, there’s reason to believe they have a chance for years to come.