Well, here you have it – the 2021 regular NFL season is upon us, and the inevitable question is will the Jets take off this season or crash and burn before they get in the air?
Preseason predictions aside, it’s worth a note to basically say that in reality, this season is nothing more than a momentum-building campaign, and a shot at the playoffs is not realistic (but not impossible).
I’ve seen predictions from 4-13 to 5-12 to 6-11 for this season, and most of this depends on whether the Jets can stay healthy or not. A wise head coach once told me it takes three years to build a winning team and since new head coach Robert Saleh is starting from scratch, let’s call 2021 Year One.
Four, five, six, or even seven wins this season will be far removed from 2020’s dumpster fire of a 1-15 season and multiple wins show viable progress and a return to competitiveness for the Jets.
In looking at the final 53 man roster, there aren’t too many surprises with the 2021 Jets as long as you understand that this team is “young.” 21 of the 53 players on the Opening Day roster are either rookies or second-year players, and Robert Saleh seems not to be shying away from building this team on a youth movement.
Remember, rookies today will be veterans two or three years from now, and if they can stay together, the Jets will move up the standings together as a team, building cohesiveness and a oneness of purpose to get to the postseason.
Rookie QB Zach Wilson has a lot riding on his shoulders but looks ready for the challenge of carrying this team into the regular season.
I find it interesting that Robert Saleh has lightened up the Jets QB depth chart by keeping only Mike White on the active roster, cutting second-year QB James Morgan (who is now with the Panthers and joins former teammate Sam Darnold). Then journeyman QB Josh Johnson has landed a spot on the Jets practice squad. Maybe Joe Douglas has plans to obtain another QB in the works this week? Three QB’s in the system seem to be enough, right? Ask multiple other NFL teams that question with other teams scrambling to find QB’s through the middle of last season.
RB Tevin Coleman looks to be a lock-in as the first down back with both La’Mical Perine as a grind-out short, tough yardage back and rooking Michael Carter coming in as a third-down back/check-down receiver. Seven WRs are being kept around, probably as a good rotation with OC Mike LaFleur’s new offensive schemes. TE Tyler Kroft had a great preseason game against the Packers, and he looks to find a niche for himself as a receiving target for Zach Wilson.
Defensively, in a nod to Robert Saleh’s move to a 4-3 defense, nine DLs are on the active roster, and 10 DBs will rotate between corner, nickel, and safety positions. While this may, on the surface, seem excessive, remember, Robert Saleh brings a defensive background with his pedigree, and he has plans to build up the Jets defense to help counter that 1-15 season last year.
In looking at the final 53 man roster, the Jets, at least on paper, bring youth but talented youth to Opening Day.
Building a strong bond and keeping this team together for years to come may be the secret “sauce” that Robert Saleh is looking for to make the Jets a force in the AFC East again.
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