Saleh, Wilson give Jets some optimism for the future

NEW YORK JETS (2-14)

New Faces: coach Robert Saleh, QB Zach Wilson (No. 2 overall draft pick), offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich, G Alijah Vera-Tucker (No. 14 overall pick), WR Corey Davis, RT Morgan Moses, WR Elijah Moore (second-round pick), RB Tevin Coleman, RB Michael Carter (fourth-round pick), WR Keelan Cole, DT Sheldon Rankins, LB Jarrad Davis, LB Jamien Sherwood (fifth-rounder), LB Hamsah Nasirildeen (sixth-rounder), S LaMarcus Joyner, DE Shaq Lawson, DE Carl Lawson (out for season).

Key Losses: coach Adam Gase, QB Sam Darnold, TE Chris Herndon, CB Bless Austin, WR Breshad Perriman, RB Frank Gore, LB Jordan Jenkins, LB Neville Hewitt, DE Henry Anderson, LB Tarell Basham, LB Harvey Langi, LB Frankie Luvu, CB Brian Poole, S Bradley McDougald, QB Joe Flacco.

Strengths: The hiring of Saleh created a wave of optimism throughout the facility, with several players remarking how much they respected the coach’s approach and philosophy. Now those good vibes need to transfer to the field. The defensive line should still be a force despite losing Carl Lawson for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. The push up front from Quinnen Williams, Folorunso Fatukasi, John Franklin-Myers and Rankins should be solid. There’s some depth at wide receiver with Corey Davis, Jamison Crowder, Moore and Cole.

Weaknesses: The Jets have a rookie quarterback still learning life in the NFL, but Wilson could turn himself into a strength if he progresses the way Saleh and LaFleur believe he will. A lot will also depend on the revamped offensive line, which has struggled the past few years and is learning a new zone-blocking scheme. The Jets have a young and inexperienced group of cornerbacks, especially after surprisingly cutting Austin. That could make for some long days if the D-line can’t buy the secondary some time with pressure. Linebacker is a spot to watch with Jarrad Davis (ankle) out until Week 6. Sherwood will get first crack at the job next to C.J. Mosley, but he’s a converted safety.

Camp Development: The injury to Carl Lawson, the Jets’ biggest free agent signing of the offseason, was a gut punch. He was having an excellent training camp and Saleh and Ulbrich had visions of the pass rusher setting up the rest of the D-line with his disruptive skills. New York traded a sixth-round draft pick to Houston to acquire Shaq Lawson, who will help fill the void. Second-year defensive end Bryce Huff should also see increased playing time.

Fantasy Player To Watch: Moore was the most impressive player on offense throughout camp before a quadriceps injury sidelined him for several days. He’s healthy again and if he and Wilson can replicate their early chemistry during the regular season, Moore could put up some big numbers as a rookie.

FanDuel Says: Win Super Bowl: 120-1. Over/under wins: 6.

Expectations: The Jets are a young, rebuilding squad with lots of inexperience at key positions. For a team that has the longest active postseason drought at 10 years, fans won’t want to hear it: This season won’t be about win totals. If Wilson shows he can be the type of quarterback the Jets expect him to be and Saleh has the franchise truly moving in the right direction, the season will be considered a success. But the pressure will be on next year to at least make a playoff run.

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