Now that the bulk of free agency is behind us, as well as the NFL draft and the 2022 schedule release, the offseason is beginning to transition into the preseason. That includes OTAs and camp, which are set to begin next week on May 23 for the New York Jets.
Yes, time flies, and that’s part of why our expert writers Paul ‘Boy Green’ Esden Jr and Michael Obermuller take a look back at what has unfolded the week before while answering fan questions with an eye toward the future. This week will focus on the 2022 schedule, some last-minute free agency rumors, and the 2022 draft class.
But first — our most recent mailbag columns can be found below:
- Week 36: Jets Free Agency Primer — rumors, targets & strategy.
- Week 37: Free agency reactions/needs, passing on Amari Cooper & Robert Woods.
- Week 38: Blockbuster trade scenarios involving the NFL draft.
- Week 39: Best and worst-case draft scenarios, unbelievable draft rumors.
- Week 40: NFL Draft Primer — final Deebo Samuel offers & mock drafts.
- Week 41: Ending droughts in 2022, biggest concerns, and potential veteran signings.
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Early Reactions to the Schedule
1. The 2022 NFL schedule is LIVE. Give me the three games that you are most excited for.
I am excited about the entire schedule — so many things to break down and enjoy, but if I only get three, here are the ones that jump out to me. The season opener versus the Baltimore Ravens is just fantastic. You open up at home on September 11th, nothing beats it and you get to test your mettle against one of the best teams in the AFC with a former MVP at quarterback in Lamar Jackson.
I’ll jump to Week 16 for the only primetime game on the schedule when the Jets host the Jacksonville Jaguars. Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson will forever be tied at the hip so that will always be interesting. This is also an opportunity for the Jets to prove on a national stage that they deserve more primetime games in 2023.
Finally, I have the Week 8 home game versus the New England Patriots circled on the calendar. To be blunt, they have kicked the Jets patootie for a long time — winners of 12 in a row — and 20 of the last 22. Last year, they ran up the score on Robert Saleh, and if they could give it back and win? Oh my!
My choices will be Week 5 against the Miami Dolphins, Week 8 against the Patriots (agree with Boy Green), and Week 6 in Green Bay against the Packers.
First off, the Jets-Fins rivalry is back on! The two fanbases have been going at it on social media ever since the Tyreek Hill trade and that home game against Miami might be my number one game on the schedule. Jets-Pats at MetLife is also always memorable for me because my college buddies visit from Boston.
Then we have the Green Bay game. You might say I’m crazy for this one, but Zach Wilson tends to rise to the occasion in big moments — some of his best performances were against the Tennessee Titans, Tom Brady and Trevor Lawrence in year one. Aaron Rodgers was his idol growing up and Lambeau Field is iconic. This could be the only time Wilson and Rodgers ever play in a regular-season game and I believe it will be legendary.
2. On the flip side, give me the three games that you are dreading/appear very challenging on paper.
To me, every week is an opportunity so I don’t really dread any singular game to be honest, but here are the three that are quite imposing to answer the spirit of the question.
Week 6 on the road versus the Packers has to be the top billing. Rodgers is a multi-time MVP and you’re in historic Lambeau Field. That’ll be an intimidating place to play and there are all the connections between Mike and Matt LaFleur and head coach Robert Saleh which just spices things up.
Week 7 versus the Denver Broncos is the very next week with Russell Wilson at quarterback. Also, last year the Jets got their teeth kicked down their throat versus the Broncos and that was brutal to watch. That happened with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback. Imagine how much more difficult it will be facing a former Super Bowl champion QB instead? Yikes.
The Jets have a really manageable second-half schedule, but the one game that is sandwiched between all of that is the Week 14 road trip versus the Buffalo Bills. They have a stacked roster and an MVP-level quarterback in Josh Allen. Who knows where both teams will be that late in the season, but that will prove quite difficult to pull off.
I’m a little less of a sucker for pain than my partner. I understand it’s the home opener and the anniversary of 9/11, but the Ravens game is not one I look forward to in excitement outside of football returning. With all the new additions on both sides of the ball, I expect some growing pains for this Jets roster early in the season and a healthy Baltimore team is an absolutely brutal Week 1 matchup.
Ironically, Boy Green and I see the Baltimore and Green Bay weeks through a polar opposite lens but we agree wholeheartedly on the Broncos. The Jets got smacked around in Denver last year and it should only get harder in 2022. That one could be ugly.
For my final most challenging matchup, I’ll say Week 3 versus the Cincinnati Bengals. After Mike White and Shaq Lawson pulled off the unfathomable for Gang Green last season, the ultra-competitive Joe Burrow will be itching for revenge. The defending AFC champs have not changed all that much since last year and the Jets have a ton of new pieces. This has the appearance of a home loss on paper, and those are always hard to stomach.
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Final Free-Agent Targets?
3. There was a recent report that the Jets were “very interested” in signing veteran defenders Larry Ogunjobi (DT) and Kwon Alexander (LB). If the choice came down to one or the other, which should Joe Douglas bring to New York?
What a tough question because they could use both! I’ll give the slightest of edges to Ogunjobi because of his youth, durability, and impressive track record.
Alexander would make a ton of sense both in the locker room and on the field, but he has been so injured throughout his career. The Jets never replaced Foley Fatukasi and while Ogunjobi wouldn’t be a one-for-one tradeoff, he would certainly help the cause.
This one is easy for me. I had been banging the drum for a young linebacker in the draft to replace C.J. Mosley next year but that ship has sailed. An older linebacker with an injury history doesn’t move the needle too much for me.
On the other hand, another area I’ve banged the drum for is defensive tackle. The Jets still need a run-stuffer and while Ogunjobi isn’t known for his ability against the run, I’d wager he’s an improvement on most of the current reserves — Sheldon Rankins, Solomon Thomas, Nathan Shepherd, Jonathan Marshall.
Give me Ogunjobi all day, but the foot injury does need to be cleared.
4. With a Keelan Cole reunion officially off the table, should the franchise add one more wide receiver before training camp, and do you have any suggestions on who that player might be if they do?
They absolutely should, you can never have enough depth. Cole knew the system and while some people were happy to see him leave, I think he was due for a major bounceback season.
However, I’d go kick the tires on one of my favorite players in the league, DeSean Jackson. You don’t need a full-time starter being four-deep at wideout, but you need someone who can situationally come in and provide a big play.
‘Action’ Jackson has that ability to take the top off of a defense and that would fit beautifully with Wilson’s big arm. Injuries are going to happen, so you want to hope for the best and expect the worst.
I agree. Although a couple of UDFAs appear to be emerging in Irvin Charles and Calvin Jackson Jr., I’m still uncertain about the Jets’ depth at wide receiver. Garrett Wilson, Elijah Moore, Corey Davis and Braxton Berrios make a solid top four, but I don’t see how any fan can trust Denzel Mims and Jeff Smith behind them.
In terms of suggestions, I think Boy Green has the right idea with a situational talent that can provide a home run or a big play. Jackson is a little old for me but I did like two other ideas I’ve heard around the rumor mill — Darius Slayton or Will Fuller.
Slayton would be via trade, as the New York Giants continue to strip their roster down under new management. Fuller would be a free-agent flyer. Sure, he’s a major injury risk but if the alternative is doing nothing, why not waste a few bucks on the speedster this summer?
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Best Jets Draft Class in Decades?
5. If you could only choose one, which Jets rookie is the player you can’t wait to watch take the field?
Another impossible question because I can’t wait to see them all. Although I’ll go a bit off the beaten path and pick the final selection of the Jets’ 2022 draft class — Micheal Clemons out of Texas A&M.
He is this mystery man that has me fascinated with his unique personality and aura of intensity. He could be a real gamechanger that none of us saw coming. Saleh likes to use a rotation so the new M.C. will certainly get his opportunities and I can’t wait to see him maximizing those.
Clemons is a good answer. I do feel like you can eliminate Jeremy Ruckert and Max Mitchell from this conversation initially, barring injury. That leaves the big four and I may be a fraud for the direction I go.
The player I wanted most in this draft class has always been Jermaine Johnson II. His skill set was perfect for the Jets — a top college run-defender that has also become a technician as a pass rusher — but I know his game so well that I’m almost less excited to see what he’ll do at the NFL level.
Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall are two players I didn’t focus on as much, so that’s where my head is at. In the end, I’ll choose the Ohio State wideout. He has such an unassuming personality for a top playmaker that it almost makes him fly under the radar. Having said that, I’ve heard a ton of hype about him from analysts and fans so now I want to see what he can do with Zach Wilson in New York.