The New York Jets have finished last in the AFC East two straight years. Which players must up their game if the team is to make any strides in 2018?
It’s a franchise that is synonymous with one of the greatest moments in the history of professional football. But the New York Jets will be celebrating a dubious anniversary in 2018. It will be 50 years since the team pulled off the amazing upset of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath helped orchestrate that 16-7 stunner over Don Shula’s heavily-favored team at Miami’s fabled Orange Bowl.
It was also a happening that put the word “guarantee” into the sports lexicon. Namath’s famous poolside words became legend after the Jets pulled off the big upset. Still, we are talking half-a-century and that is an awfully long time to wait for another NFL championship.
These days, the Green and White is coming off back-to-back 5-11 seasons. In 2015, head coach Todd Bowles let the Jets to a 10-6 finish and this appeared to be a program on the rise. Now it’s a team looking to start over again in some ways.
Yes, the draft has brought some solid players in recent years and this offseason the organization was busy in free agency. But the bottom line is the club hasn’t been to the playoffs in 2010. And that means there are a lot of people who need to step up this fall for this team to be in contention. So what five players on the New York Jets current roster need to improve the most?
5. Brandon Shell
If Bowles’ club is to have any kind of success this season, running the football is undoubtedly important. They already have one of the more underrated backs in the league in Bilal Powell, who has racked up a combined 2,052 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns the last two seasons. This season, the Jets added veterans Isaiah Crowell and Thomas Rawls from the Cleveland Browns and Seattle Seahawks respectively. They also have second-year running back Elijah McGuire, who finished with 315 yards on the ground during his rookie campaign.
If the team is to improve on finishing 19th in the league in rushing, they need better play from the men up front. One such example is Brandon Shell, who made a dozen starts this past season on the right side of the line. The two-year pro has shown flashes but still lacks consistently. That could certainly come with more experience, but the 2016 fifth-round pick from South Carolina needs to put it all together this season.