The offseason is a perfect time to set expectations for the upcoming season.
Everyone is undefeated at 0-0 and fans are plotting how their team can make it to the playoffs.
Speaking of the postseason, that’s somewhere the New York Jets haven’t sniffed since the 2010 campaign. After a decade of mediocrity, what should the expectations be for a team with a first-year head coach, a rookie quarterback, and a ton of youth?
One analyst believes the bar should be set at a “double-digit win season.” Say what now?
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Where the Heck Did That Even Come From?
Former NFL wideout and current co-host of Good Morning Football on the NFL Network, Nate Burleson sent Jets fans into a tizzy after his sizzling hot take.
When asked what should the expectations be for the green and white in 2021, the talented analyst didn’t hold back:
“I want more than just competing, I want these guys to have double-digit wins. Why are we saying just be competitive? Like the Jets are the NFL version of Rudy embodied in a football team. No! I don’t want them to take the field and just hope that they play okay. I feel like they have to put their expectations a lot higher than just being competitive. I say 10 wins is the expectation for Robert Saleh’s Jets in 2021.”
Burleson compared the 2021 Jets to the 2020 Miami Dolphins as the main crux of his argument:
- Going from 5 wins in 2019 to 10 wins in 2020.
- Brian Flores (defensive-minded head coach) vs Saleh (same philosophy)
- Bringing in free agents to improve the roster during the offseason.
- Tua Tagovailoa (top-five pick in the 2020 NFL draft) vs Zach Wilson (top-two pick in the 2021 NFL draft).
A Key Difference Worth Pointing Out
Now Burleson didn’t “predict” that will happen for the Jets in 2021, but he said that should be the expectations for the team. So what’s the difference?
A prediction is saying it will happen and putting your name behind it. Setting an expectation is having a strong belief that something will happen.
Why should the Jets set the bar low and just hope for the best? If that happens fine, but expectations are meant to dream the impossible dream. While outside the locker room, analysts may have their doubts about the green and white, that doesn’t mean inside the locker room those same thoughts should permeate.
Inside that locker room coach Saleh is trying to build a winning culture and part of that is getting the team to buy-in. You can bet he isn’t spitting that “Rudy” narrative in the locker room of a feel-good story, they’re trying to win football games and end the NFL’s longest active playoff drought.
The Jets have an unusual track record of success with head coaches in their first year with the organization.
Todd Bowles won 10 games in 2015, Rex Ryan won nine but went to the AFC Championship game, Eric Mangini won 10 games in 2006, and Herm Edwards also won 10 games in 2001. What was the commonality in all those situations? Absolutely no idea and that should have no bearing on what transpires with Saleh in 2021, but it’s a fascinating nugget nonetheless.
For a double-digit win season to happen for the Jets, they’ll need several things to fall into place:
- Accelerated development of rookie passer Zach Wilson.
- Erosion of the AFC East:
- Tagovailoa doesn’t take the next step.
- Cam Newton’s best days are behind him.
- Buffalo Bills struggle with an encore performance in 2021.
- The Jets pass rush proves potent and forces opposing quarterbacks to get rid of the ball quickly.
- CJ Mosley is the exact same player pre-injuries and COVID opt-out or very close to that level of player.
If any or all of these things happen, it’s a lot easier to see a realistic path to a double-digit win season and likely a playoff berth for the first time in a decade.