Jets and Giants “In the Hunt” for the 2022 NFL Playoffs

The Jets and the Giants are both overachieving past the halfway point of the 2022 season. Believe it or not, this might not be a fluke…


Photo: The Ringer

The last time that the Jets and Giants both made the playoffs was 2006. Even the oldest students at East Islip High School were but a year old. Over the past two seasons, these two New York teams have a combined record of a pathetic 16 wins and 50 losses. Going back to 2017, all of their first round picks have been within the top ten, with the exception of the 2020 draft where the Jets picked Mekhi Becton at #11. 

If the season ended today, both New York teams would find themselves in a playoff spot. This is not mere midseason luck either, as both teams have impressive wins. The Jets have beaten the Aaron Rodgers led Green Bay Packers and the seemingly unbeatable Buffalo Bills. The Giants have beaten the reigning #1 seed Tennessee Titans, the Packers in London, and the lethal rushing attack of the Baltimore Ravens.

What has happened to these perennial bottom feeders? What has changed in East Rutherford, New Jersey that has fostered a winning culture? Let’s take a look at the adjustments these teams have made over the past few seasons.

The Jets fired their abysmal head coach  Adam Gase after a two win 2020 season. The replacement would be 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. Saleh’s initial offseason as Jets head coach showed a lot of promise, as Saleh drafted QB Zach Wilson second overall to take the helm. Wilson has shown potential so far into his young career, despite multiple injuries. Other first round picks have also blossomed into stars, such as offensive linemen Mekhi Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker. In his second offseason, Saleh had a great draft again, securing the Jets a future bellcow back in Breece Hall, lockdown corner Sauce Gardner, receiver Garett Wilson, and edge Jermaine Johnson. This team, depending on Wilson’s growth into an NFL star, looks to be set for the next several years.

Mr. Lackner, tech teacher and lifelong Jets fan, had this to say about the surprising start: “It’s refreshing. Definitely refreshing to be able to wear my Jets gear on Mondays now. I’m optimistic about this team despite the fact that the AFC East is the tightest it’s been since 2007.” When asked about his confidence in head coach Robert Saleh and quarterback Zach Wilson, Lackner said, “Very confident. Moreso Saleh than Wilson. I think Wilson has a ton of potential and he totally can get there. But he has to let Saleh help him there. And I’m very excited about what Saleh will do for this team.”

The Giants rebuild has been much more rapid. After four years of abysmal performance behind Kyle Shurmur and Joe Judge, the Giants decided to hire Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll as their head coach. Daboll, former offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills, was acclaimed as one of the biggest reasons for the sudden success of star Josh Allen, so the Giants were hoping that they could do the same for Daniel Jones. So far in 2022, it has worked. Jones has significantly improved his turnover problems, and has looked like a competent NFL QB for the first time in his career. In the offseason, Daboll added star rookies Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal for help on both sides of the trenches. Added to the reemergence of Saquan Barkley as a star, this team also looks to be locked and loaded for a half decade or so, if Jones can continue his level of play. 

Patrick Koch, a junior and lifelong Giants fan, had the following to say, “This is the most ecstatic I’ve ever felt about the Giants that I remember watching. I have never felt like the Giants could beat anyone good in my life. But this season, we’re a few wide receivers away from the NFC championship. I’m very confident in Brian Daboll, he’s made every correct decision since coming here and has transformed the culture. I want to sign Jones for next year at least, while I’m not as confident in him I think he’s having a really good season. I need to see that he can win important games.”

The Jets and Giants have both seemed to find their head coach to take them out of their respective rebuilds.  Saleh and Daboll have both created rosters filled with young talent, poised to make playoff pushes for years to come. The only question marks left in MetLife are whether or not Zach Wilson and Daniel Jones will be the signal callers to take them there. We’ll see if they are playing meaningful games in January this year.