The Jets were one of the youngest teams in the NFL last season and it was very clear from week to week. Robert Saleh’s team was competitive for a few weeks. Others, it seemed that he was still learning to play at the highest level of football.
New York’s youth showed up at every position, but quarterback and kicker were hit particularly hard. Zach Wilson was given the initial nod as a rookie and backed by him, Mike White, who had never attempted a regular-season pass before replacing an injured Wilson midyear. Joe Douglas traded for Joe Flacco after Wilson’s injury to add experience to the quarterback room, but only after he failed to sign a veteran in free agency.
Meanwhile, the kicking game was a complete disaster, until Eddy Piñeiro showed up at the end of the season.
Douglas has made sure not to repeat the mistakes of last offseason so far in free agency. Flacco has already been retained and Greg Zuerlein was booked on Saturday to give Piñeiro competition.
Flacco’s career speaks for itself. He is a former Super Bowl MVP and has accomplished more than any quarterback the Jets have brought up in the last decade. Flacco may not be to Wilson what Josh McCown was to Sam Darnold, but the two apparently have a good relationship. It definitely doesn’t hurt New York to have Flacco around, even after White briefly took the NFL by storm last season.
Zuerlein is comparable to Flacco in a certain sense. He once had one of the biggest legs in football and was an All-Pro in 2017. His very presence puts the Jets’ kick area in a much better position than it was at this point last offseason. . He takes Pineiro into account and New York’s kicking game is now exponentially stronger.
It’s only fair to temper the expectations surrounding Zuerlein. He is coming off a 2021 season with the Cowboys in which he missed six field goals and six extra points, battling bouts of inconsistency along the way. Still, the record of his and Pineiro’s late-season success after joining the Jets is a marked improvement.
The Jets will still be a young team in 2022, but they are adding more experience than they did last spring. That should pay dividends for Saleh as he looks to lift Gang Green out of the AFC East basement in his second season at the helm.