Recent NFL Trend Creates Razor-Thin Margin for Jets’ Latest Regime

Zach Wilson, Josh Allen

Getty To beat opposing quarterbacks like Josh Allen (right) in the AFC, Zach Wilson (left) is going to have to live up to expectations.

The past couple of weeks has gone pretty well for the New York Jets. The main issue? They’ve also gone pretty well for just about every other AFC franchise.

What started out as a running joke has turned into a scary trend — top NFL quarterbacks are switching conferences and the NFC is mostly old news. Things have gotten so bad in the other half of the league that Tom Brady decided to unretire and Aaron Rodgers agreed to stay in Green Bay despite losing Davante Adams.

I’m half-kidding, but seriously, this upcoming regular season should be a walk in the park for both of the legendary stalwarts and their teams. The NFC competition is slim, and it’s only getting worse by the day.

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Matt Ryan Is Most Recent Domino to Fall

The mass exodus that started with the Russell Wilson blockbuster to the Denver Broncos continued on March 21, as former MVP Matt Ryan waived his no-trade clause to become an Indianapolis Colt.

Don’t forget that Deshaun Watson has remained in the AFC, choosing the Cleveland Browns over three different NFC South suitors. The conference is also filled with recent first-round picks that are turning into rising superstars — Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow — and a younger group that could develop into the same — Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, Tua Tagovailoa, Davis Mills.

You almost feel bad for a guy like Mitchell Trubisky that just signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers to be a starter again. A team like the New York Giants might have been the smarter choice in free agency.

Either way, this sets up a razor-thin margin for the Jets regime led by Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh. The pair didn’t promise to make this team competent, they promised to turn it into a champion, and doing that in the AFC is officially more challenging than ever before.

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No Room for Error

Douglas and Saleh have committed to rebuilding the right way, and they better make sure that they hit on the foundation. Wilson is a must at QB — especially when you consider the competition above — but the roster has to be sound in all areas if the Jets are going to beat the best.

According to Gregg Rosenthal’s NFL QB index for the 2021 season, the AFC now has 10 of the top-16 signal-callers in the sport. That does not include Watson, who did not play last year.

It’s fair to mention that the top 10 is split five and five, but the NFC is much more top-heavy on paper than the Jets’ side of the league. That held true when watching the wildcard races play out last season.

Almost every AFC team outside of the Jets, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars were in the hunt leading up to the final weeks while the NFC barely had seven franchises that were over .500. Currently, there are several second-chance journeymen and lackluster draft picks that are set to start in the opposing conference in 2022.

This will make it extremely difficult for Gang Green to make the postseason next year, and could even interfere with the 2023 timeline that fans have envisioned beyond that.

In 2022, they play the following quarterbacks as of now (in order of index ranking): Rodgers, Allen (twice), Burrow, Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins, Jackson, Jones (twice), Tagovailoa/Teddy Bridgewater (twice), Jared Goff, Justin Fields, Lawrence, Drew Lock, Watson (DNP) and Trubisky (DNP).

Things may be looking up in Jets land but an unrelenting war surrounds the border. To win, Saleh will have to guide his team through the ultimate gauntlet — All Gas, No Brake.

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