The 2021 NFL season is going to be weird.
This will be the longest season in professional football history with the recent expansion to a 17-game regular season.
Who doesn’t love more football? That’s going to be amazing, but there will be a weird side effect from an extra game: an asterisk.
The NFL record books are destined to be smashed now that a slew of talented players that are faster and stronger has an additional game to play with. Throw in the fact these guys have the benefits of the advancement of modern technology at their disposal to stay on the field.
With that in mind, here are several New York Jets records that could come crumbling down in 2021 and which players could make history.
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Zach Wilson Can Make Jets History in 2021
There was a viral tweet over the holiday weekend that threw Jets fans in a tizzy. This led us into this very article breaking down all the records that Jets players could crush to smithereens in 2021.
If Zach Wilson eclipses 4,000 passing yards next season he would become the fifth rookie quarterback to ever accomplish that feat. Additionally, he would join ‘Broadway’ Joe Namath as the only other Jets quarterback to do it.
A lot of people misinterpreted this tweet as lofty expectations for the former BYU Football stud. Quite the contrary, this is actually a super doable task.
In a 17 game season, Wilson would have to average just 235 yards passing per game to get there. To provide some context, that total would’ve ranked 19th in the NFL last season.
In other words, a below-average passing attack could reach that barometer.
This would be historic for the Jets, not so much for the NFL. The 4,000-yard passing mark has been a staple for relevancy over the last 15 years or so for quarterbacks.
With an expansion to a 17-game regular season that’ll no longer be the case. The bar to shoot for will now be 5,000 yards, which has happened 11 times in NFL history.
The tweet is more so an inditement on the Jets’ terrible history with quarterbacks as opposed to some sexy hot take on Wilson as a rookie.
In 1967, Namath became the first quarterback in NFL history to ever throw for 4,000 yards and he did that in a 14 game regular season. He’s been the only quarterback to do it for the Jets in the last 54 years.
Other Records That Could Fall Next Season
The Jets haven’t had one of those since 2015 when Chris Ivory got over the hump (1,070). In the team’s history, they’ve had 18 1,000 yard rushers, but since 2010 they’ve only had three 1K rushing seasons:
- Chris Ivory (1,070 yards)
- Shonn Greene did it back-to-back years in 2011 (1,054) and 2012 (1,063)
While a 17 game season likely takes away some of the luster off of a 1K season, it would still be nice to see.
To reach that milestone a back would have to average a paltry 59 yards rushing per game. That seems relatively easy for any one running back to accomplish, but that’s where we get to the wrinkle of this Jets rushing attack.
This Mike LaFleur system often relies on a running back by committee approach. If that holds in 2021 that’ll complicate what seems to be a pretty simple task.
Tevin Coleman will likely get the first crack as the starter, but Michael Carter will be hot on his heels to steal the primary workload. If any one of these guys individually can break through they’ll have a great chance to end the 1K drought.
Also, there’s a major misconception among the Jets fanbase on the ideologies of this offense. In a perfect world, the Jets would love to go back to the ground-and-pound days of old.
The only thing that could get Gang Green out of their game plan is the team’s terrible cornerback situation. The group lacks experience and star power and that could lead to opposing offenses shredding them apart. This would then lead to Wilson having to ditch the plan to play catch-up by throwing the ball all over the yard.
Since 2007 the Jets have had a grand total of three receivers reach the 1K floor:
- Jerricho Cotchery in 2007 (1,130 yards)
- Brandon Marshall in 2015 (1,502 yards)
- Eric Decker in 2015 (1,027 yards)
Three receivers in 14 years? Yikes.
To increase that total, a Jets receiver will have to average 59 yards receiving per game. Fortunately, this is one of the most loaded Gang Green receiving corps on paper the team has had over the last 20 years.
There isn’t a true alpha in this group, but there’s a lot of guys who could be in the conversation:
- Corey Davis was close last year (984 yards) and also missed two games.
- Elijah Moore is only a rookie, but he’s been arguably the most impressive player thus far in camp.
- Denzel Mims is a dark horse candidate, but likely how he’ll be used in this offense he won’t get the necessary reps on a weekly basis to reach that milestone (red zone, vertical shots, and mismatch inside the numbers).
Double-digit sack season
If you thought the receiving 1K drought was embarrassing, say hello to the lack of pass rushers for the Jets over the years.
Since 2006, the green and white have only had three double-digit sack seasons (Muhammad Wilkerson did it twice and Calvin Pace did it once). The last one came during the 2015 season when the former Temple product got 12 sacks.
There are several players that are capable of reaching that feat next season:
- Carl Lawson
- Quinnen Williams
- Sheldon Rankins: (got close in 2018 with an eight-sack year), although he likely won’t get enough snaps to come close to that total.
If the Jets are going to have any level of success this upcoming season they need their pass rush to wreak havoc. This 4-3 scheme should open the door for one, if not several of these EDGE rushers to aggressively pin their ears back to have career seasons.