We have reached another milestone in this crazy 2022 NFL offseason.
The New York Jets just wrapped up their rookie minicamp as they continue preparation for next year’s campaign.
We’re doing the same thing here at Heavy with our weekly mailbag featuring our two insiders Paul ‘Boy Green’ Esden Jr and Michael Obermuller.
They answer the hottest questions on the docket including a historic drought coming to a stunning end in 2022.
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Surprises Come in All Shapes and Sizes
1. Who will be the biggest surprise for the New York Jets in 2022? (that can be either a good or bad thing)
Tyler Conklin, in a good way. With all eyes on C.J. Uzomah and Jeremy Ruckert, the former Vikings’ tight end will have the best season of the three.
Conklin broke out with 61 receptions and 26 first downs in 2021 (nearly 600 yards). He was a major safety net for Kirk Cousins and with so many other weapons for teams to worry about in the new Jets offense, he should fly under the radar for opposing defenses.
Look for Zach Wilson to rely on Conklin early and often as offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur uses a ton of two-TE sets. Think Hunter Henry for the New England Patriots a season ago, after Jonnu Smith signed for more money (like Uzomah with the Jets this year).
Conk is a great answer to this question and I can certainly see that coming to fruition.
I’ll go out on a limb and say Mekhi Becton will play the entire 17-game regular season in 2022. This man has been obliterated by the media and fans alike questioning his desire to be great.
He has obviously embraced the haters with his custom t-shirts and social media responses, but I think that also translates to the football field. Outside of Zach Wilson, Becton may be the most important piece to the puzzle next year.
2. Will the New York Jets add a ‘Morgan Moses’ type player late in free agency again this year that makes a big impact?
Well, they might actually add a veteran offensive tackle but I hope he has no impact because that would mean George Fant and Mekhi Becton are both healthy.
I don’t really feel that Joe Douglas will sign another big name before training camp but he is famous for his post-camp waiver claims. I don’t have a specific name in mind, but I’ll never discount one of Douglas’ last-minute waiver claims-making an impact, like John Franklin-Myers, Braxton Berrios or Quincy Williams have in years past.
As Michael pointed out, Douglas has a rich history of finding gems in the waiver wire market. I’ll say they find exactly that a Moses type of player.
The one thing missing from this offensive line is a veteran swing tackle you can rely on. Douglas has done a remarkable job improving the trenches both at the surface level and below it, but if injury issues arise they will be between a pickle and a hard place.
Will a proven entity that started 96 consecutive games in a row drop from the skies? That is unlikely but there are several guys out there right now that would make me immediately feel better about the offensive tackle room.
3. What is the biggest concern you have with the roster at this very moment?
I’ve been banging this drum all offseason but the run defense still concerns me, specifically up the gut. Most of the Jets’ current defensive tackles aren’t great against the run and C.J. Mosley is only getting older.
I’m aware that Jordan Whitehead and D.J. Reed Jr. were brought in to help stifle the run on the outside but nothing was done to clog the middle. Foley Fatukasi is gone and aside from Franklin-Myers potentially moving inside, Douglas has ignored the defense’s greatest weakness in 2021.
Who’s this roster’s best run-stuffer? Solomon Thomas? Jermaine Johnson? This defense could use one more role player in the worst way.
The run defense is a major question mark and because MO went in that direction I’ll pivot to another troublesome spot on the defensive side of the ball.
Who the heck is the opposite starter at safety with Jordan Whitehead? Lamarcus Joyner? Yikes.
He missed the entire year due to a torn triceps and hasn’t played the safety position in years after a weird excursion with the Las Vegas Raiders. If that is the answer to replace Marcus Maye, I have legitimate concerns.
I get it, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will this Jets roster, however that is a big issue spot for me. Maybe the improved Jets’ cornerbacks room and pass rush can mask that deficiency on the backend, but I certainly have my doubts.
Time to Make History
4. Which drought is more likely to end in 2022: 1K rusher, 1K receiver, double-digit sack season? (none of those things have happened since 2015)
This offense feels like the type that will spread the ball around a lot, both in the backfield and through the air, so I’ll go with option C.
Out of the three choices above, the Jets have the best chance at ending the double-digit sack drought. Carl Lawson is returning, Johnson has entered the scene, JFM is expected to transition back to his natural position, and Quinnen Williams is playing for an extension.
Something’s got to give and I expect this Robert Saleh pass rush to really come together and elevate their game in year two.
MO is spot on again, I think there is a chance the competition and depth will eat each other at the running back and wide receiver spot, which could rule out either of those positions reaching the 1K plateau.
However, there is no such quarrel on defense. Several guys could feast and make it happen and that’s what I predict will occur.
With so many guys to focus on, the opposing offense is going to have to leave someone on an island and fortunately, the Jets have the horses to take advantage of such a situation.
I’ll boldly guarantee that the green and white have at least one double-digit sack artist, if not multiple for the first time in over seven years.
5. Who will be your breakout star for the New York Jets this season?
Last year I selected Franklin-Myers for my Jets breakout star and to be honest, I’d say that was correct. JFM earned an extension and was the team’s most consistent defender in 2021.
I’ll try and go two-for-two here if I can and say Michael Carter (the running back).
I know what you’re thinking, the Jets drafted Breece Hall so shouldn’t that hurt Carter’s production? I think it will actually help him.
The North Carolina ball-carrier was at his best when Javonte Williams was his running mate in college and he’s not really built to be the bell-cow. With Hall wearing down defenses in front of him, I could see Carter busting out more “home-run” carries.
Unlike MO I have been very hit and miss in this category, but I’m willing to step up to the plate again and let it rip.
Surprisingly I think it ends up being Corey Davis. I know that is a weird and non-sexy answer when you look at all the other young star talent on the roster. However, Davis thrived when he was featured in an offense where he wasn’t the top dog.
I think he reaches the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the first time in his professional career and is the perfect Robin to whoever becomes the Batman in this Jets offense. Last year was an aberration on so many levels with his uncharacteristic drops, injuries, and fumbles.
In 2022 Davis flips the narrative and proves he was worth every penny of that free-agent contract.
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