Peter King: Improved Jets might soon be a problem for Patriots

"The Jets have a plan, with a GM who’s executing it well...Finally, long-term, they have a chance.”

Zach Wilson Jets
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson, left, looks to throw during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J. AP Photo/John Munson,
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The Patriots are already staring at an uphill battle to wrench the AFC East back from the Buffalo Bills this season and must also face a souped-up Dolphins offense twice in 2022 as well.

Might they soon have to worry about the typically lowly Jets as well?

In his latest “Football Morning in America” column, NBC Sports veteran Peter King said New York, which has mostly served as the division’s punching bag in recent years, could soon be on the rise after a big draft haul in 2022.

The Jets, led by general manager Joe Douglas, grabbed three first-round picks — star cornerback Ahmad Gardner, receiver Garrett Wilson, and edge defender Jermaine Johnson — as well as Breece Hill, the draft’s top-rated running back, in the second round.


“What I especially liked was Douglas moved up for Johnson and Hall, and he was able to keep his 2023 draft intact; he did it all with his 2022 draft picks alone,” King said. “Add quarterback Zach Wilson, tackle Mekhi Becton and wideout Elijah Moore from the first two Douglas drafts, and tight end C.J. Uzomah in free agency this year, and you’ve got an offense Douglas has built from scratch.”

Johnson, in particular, was a popular pick that some hoped the Patriots would have made at No. 21 after the pass-rusher slipped in the NFL Draft. Instead, the Jets traded back into the first round to nab him three spots before New England picked at No. 29.

Of course, most of the Jets’ outlook will depend on whether second-year quarterback Zach Wilson begins realizing his immense talent.

“Zach Wilson had some nice moments last year – a 28-24, turnover-free loss to Tom Brady and the Bucs sticks out,” King wrote, “but not enough to know yet whether he can be a long-term passer for a playoff contender.”

The big-armed quarterback especially struggled against the Patriots, completing just 58 percent of his passes for 261 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions in two games.


But with more weapons now at his disposal, headlined by the No. 10 overall pick Garrett Wilson, Wilson might have more to work with when New York faces New England this fall.

Of course, the Patriots likely won’t be eminently worried about any improvements by the Jets. After all, New England hasn’t lost to this particular division rival since 2015. The bigger fish in the division — the Bills and Dolphins, who each beat the Patriots twice last year — will likely still be the tougher ones to corral.

But King suggested the Jets might not remain pushovers for long, which could go ill for the Patriots in an already crowded division.

“The Jets have a plan, with a GM who’s executing it well, and they have a chance,” he said. “Finally, long-term, they have a chance.”


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