The Cincinnati Bengals were beginning to feel the heat. Entering 2021, the Bengals had five losing seasons and no playoff victories since 1990. Head coach Zac Taylor was on the verge of being fired. Sportsbooks gave them anywhere from the third-worst to worst odds to make a Super Bowl appearance. However, they overcame all of the odds and have been the latest Cinderella story in the NFL. Going into next season, which teams have the best chance to repeat the Bengals’ latest efforts? It’s going to take a successful NFL 2022 offseason.
NFL 2022 Offseason: Three Teams Ready To Take A Bengals-Like Leap
New York Jets
The Jets are ranked sixth in total cap space heading into the NFL 2022 offseason with an estimated 44 million dollars. They also have the fourth and tenth pick in the upcoming NFL draft. If the Jets can nail the offseason as the Bengals did last season, we could see similar results between the two teams.
Quarterback Zach Wilson is entering his second season and hopes to follow the same progression pattern as some of his quarterback peers like Joe Burrow and Patrick Mahomes. He has shown flashes in his rookie year. He outdueled Tom Brady for a large majority of the game against the Buccaneers. He showed his arm strength in a stunning victory against the Tennessee Titans and had another solid outing versus the Jacksonville Jaguars where he rushed for a franchise-record 91 yards.
Unfortunately, the Jets were compromised for the majority of the season as the injury bug took down the team. We never got to see rookie Elijah Moore build off of a stellar second half of the season where he scored five touchdowns in five games with four different quarterbacks. We never got to see the offensive line at full strength. However, we did see one of the worst statistical defensive performances in NFL history. Yet, they competed and remained competitive toward the season’s end.
With some heart, additional talent in the receiver position and the secondary, and continued progression of the players from the 2021 NFL Draft, the Jets could take flight next year.
New York Giants
Giants co-owner John Mara said, “We’ve done everything possible to screw this kid up,” when asked about quarterback Daniel Jones.
Most teams aren’t willing to take accountability for some of their actions but the Giants have. Being aware of the situation, they decided to hire coaches who have been responsible for the success of some of the best quarterbacks we have in the game today. Brian Daboll, the current head coach of the Giants, had made the Buffalo Bills electric and exciting to watch for the first time since the early ’90s.
Current offensive coordinator Mike Kafka was the quarterback’s coach for the Kansas City Chiefs and has helped assist Mahomes since his rookie year which resulted in one MVP and one Super Bowl MVP along the way. We believe this was a great hire and I would have to agree.
All of a sudden, Jones went from victim to scapegoat if he can’t succeed in this new, revitalized offense. I’d imagine the Giants will double down and take full priority in rebuilding their offensive line through the draft. This should open lanes for running back Saquon Barkley and ultimately set up the passing game…assuming he isn’t traded away in the NFL 2022 offseason.
If this offense can live up to the hype, it will end up complementing their defense that has far less talent. The Giants punted the eighth-most in the NFL. The defense had no chance to catch their breath and the effects were evident on the defensive line that tied-ninth for the fewest sacks in the NFL. The Giants need to be feared. That starts with their young and talented secondary and ends with pressure on the quarterback setting up three and outs. This gives the ball back to the offense where their playmakers can deliver. That is where they will find success and finish with a winning record.
The Jaguars have found their guy. Unfortunately, it was just one year too late. In 2018, new head coach Doug Pederson brought his former NFL team, the Philadelphia Eagles, their first Super Bowl and he did it with journeyman quarterback Nick Foles. He helped guide his former quarterback Carson Wentz to have an MVP-caliber year in 2017 before the injury. Dysfunction within the organization in 2020 led to the Eagles blowing up the team and Pederson happened to be one of the victims of the fallout.
Pederson will introduce more RPO schemes to the Jaguars offense where second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence found most of his success during his time at Clemson. Lawrence will get his former Clemson running back Travis Etienne at full strength who accounted for 6,107 yards from scrimmage and 78 touchdowns during his four years there. He will be eased into the lineup thanks to the talented James Robinson who provides a similar skill set as a “catching-back”.
The Jaguars have the second-most cap space in the NFL 2022 offseason, trailing only the Miami Dolphins. They weren’t afraid to make multiple transactions during the offseason last season, and don’t expect them to stand pat this season either. They need to get Lawrence a number one receiver as well as a reliable tight end and there are plenty of options available. They need to bolster the offensive line which shouldn’t be a concern. It took the Kansas City Chiefs one offseason to build one that ended up ranking in the top five according to PFF.
There are quite a few holes on defense that won’t be as easy to resolve, however looking at the ’18 Eagles, their strengths were in their defensive line led by Fletcher Cox, Michael Bennett, and Brandon Graham. The Jaguars will be looking at prospects Kayvon Thibodeaux or Aidan Hutchinson to pair alongside the emerging edge rusher Josh Allen.
Signing some dominant interior rushers and a veteran safety who can bring the same presence that Malcolm Jenkins brought to that Eagles team should be sufficient for now. The Jaguars had four wins over the last two years. Expect them to try and double that for next year after a busy NFL 2022 offseason.