3 Chargers 2023 opponents that improved immensely in free agency
New York Jets
The New York Jets have been one of the hottest topics in free agency. With Aaron Rodgers going on the Pat McAfee Show and stating his intentions to play for the Jets this upcoming season, the team is looking to make an impact this year and has started with their free agency signings.
The biggest improvement to the Jets is one that is yet to come, the addition of Aaron Rodgers. For most teams, we avoided the speculation of positions they may add to through the rest of free agency but I believe we can say this is a little bit more than a rumor at this point, with us all just waiting to see what the final details will be in the move that sends Rodgers to New York. The move from Wilson to Rodgers is one that needs little explanation as to how big of a deal it is, Rodgers alone pushes this team further than last year. However, he won't be coming to New York alone.
The Jets sign wide receivers Allen Lazard from the Green Bay Packers and Mecole Hardman from the Kansas City Chiefs. Lazard and Hardman join offensive rookie of the year Garrett Wilson to form a more than formidable trio for Rodgers to throw to. Lazard led the Packers with 788 yards and tallied 6 touchdowns on the season, which would be second to Wilson in yards and first overall for the Jets based on last season's stats.
Aside from how he statistically is a great addition to the team, he brings a relationship with the soon-to-be new quarterback for the Jets that will likely lead to heavy target numbers this season. Hardman only played in 8 games last season but while active he scored 4 touchdowns which would tie the Jets' high last season, as well as posting 8.9 yards per target which also would have led the Jets last season.
Big-name improvements were made at receiver and quarterback positions, but the Jets made moves on the line as well. Wes Schweitzer was signed to a 3-year deal to play center for New York. Schweitzer brings to the Jets a bruiser of a run blocker who has the ability to slot in as a guard if needed as well.
Along with Schweitzer the Jets signed lineman Trystan Colon. Colon isn't someone that brings much experience to the team but builds on depth for the Jets with the versatility similar to Schweitzer in playing both center and guard.
Defensive and Special Teams Improvements
The Jets biggest moves have been on the offensive side of the ball with not much change to the defense. The Jets had one of the best passing defenses in football, ranking third best in passing yards, first in QB hits, and seventh in sacks.
The biggest move the Jets made defensively was re-signing linebacker Quincy Williams to a three-year deal. Williams posted his second season in a row with 100+ tackles, second on the team with 106, and first on the team in tackles for loss with 12.
The signings on the offensive side of the ball are enough to consider that the team has made a vast improvement, however, they not only bolstered their offense but their special teams as well. The signing of Hardman adds another option in the return game with the loss of Braxton Berrios to the Dolphins. The Jets averaged 21.5 yards per kick return last season, in comparison to Hardman's career return yards average of 23.8.
In addition to returns, the Jets have gave Braden Mann some competition, signing Thomas Morstead from the Dolphins. Mann has made some hiccups that have cost the Jets games, Morstead comes in bringing experience, a greater yards per punt average, and coming off of a season where he nailed over 45% of punts within the opponent's 20-yard line (compared to Mann's 32.5%.) With Hardman, Morstead, and the re-signing of Greg Zuerlein, the Jets are looking in better shape this upcoming season in the kicking and return game.
Keeping the defense together that ranked top 5 in the league last season with additions to the offense and special teams make the Jets a team to keep an eye on this season and a tough matchup not only for the Chargers but the rest of their schedule as well.
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The Chargers will play the New York Jets away this upcoming 2023 season.