As the calendar inches closer to August, you can start to picture the ball flying for the Hall of Fame game. But before preseason football kicks off, let’s look at the most improved teams for the upcoming 2022 NFL season.
New York Jets
The good thing about finishing 4-13 the previous season is that you have nowhere to go but up, and that’s the case for the New York Jets. The Jets won’t win the division, nor is it likely for them to make the playoffs. However, the vast improvement of the team is noticeable.
Zach Wilson should take leaps and bounds in his second season after the team drafted Garrett Wilson in the first round of this year’s draft. Adding Wilson to the core of Elijah Moore and Corey Davis gives Wilson some quality options to throw to.
Wilson wasn’t the only standout draft pick the Jets can hang their hat on, considering Sauce Gardner has the potential to be the league’s next shutdown cornerback. The rookie out of Cincinnati gives the Jets their first chance at having an elite cornerback since they traded away Darrelle Revis.
There isn’t a team with more of a wild off-season than the Miami Dolphins. Let’s put the player acquisitions aside to acknowledge the madness of the Brian Flores situation. It was shocking enough they fired him after another winning season, but the drama of lawsuits and allegations of racism afterward was not a good look for Miami.
The best way to move past that is to hire a hotshot newcomer like Mike McDaniel to call the plays. McDaniel, fresh off coordinating the 49ers to the NFC Championship, has some new toys he can play with in this Dolphins system.
Tyreek Hill gives Miami a threat to take it 80 yards on any given play. And seeing how McDaniel used Deebo Samuel last year, one can expect to see something similar with Hill.
The Entire AFC West
The AFC West will be an outright war, with weekly interdivisional battles that make it almost impossible to pick a winner. At the top is the Chiefs, who will look a little different this season without Hill but still have Patrick Mahomes at QB. Then, there are these three teams who turned themselves into machines.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders made a big splash acquiring Davante Adams from the Packers, reuniting him with college teammate and quarterback Derrick Carr. Also, the Raiders have a new coach, Josh McDaniels, who has the reputation of being an offensive genius from his time in New England.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angles Chargers turned losing into an artform in 2021, so it’s hard to imagine they will suffer a similar fate this year. LA added Khalil Mack on the opposite end of Joey Bosa, giving the Chargers a strong pass rush.
Lastly, the Denver Broncos are acquiring Russell Wilson. Will Russ be able to cook with Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, and Cortland Sutton? He has a very good chance to, and if not, the running game of Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon will pick up the slack.
Seeing the most improved teams heading into the 2022 NFL season illustrates that this season will be wild. The bottom-dwellers like the Jets should be respectable, and several AFC teams are ready to take the next step.