The New York Jets kick off their 2017 regular season against the Buffalo Bills on the road. Here are the top five players to keep an eye on from the Jets that could have them leave this game victorious.
The New York Jets will be showcasing a whole lot of young talent against the Buffalo Bills in their season opener on the road. They have one of the youngest rosters, as they are rebuilding toward the future.
Youth leads to lower expectations, but that doesn’t mean this week should be a just another trial run. They should go into this week expecting to be able to win against the Bills.
For the Jets, this season is about giving the fans hope for the future, and this is the first step. Winning against a division opponent on the road could be a sign of good things to come.
Here are the top five players to watch that the Jets need for a successful Week 1.
Next: 5. New top target
5. Wide Receiver Jermaine Kearse
The ramifications of the Sheldon Richardson trade will be felt immediately. Kearse has as much experience as the rest of the wide receiving core (heading into the Week 1 game) combined.
After all the clamor surrounding the Jets letting go of veterans during the offseason, landing Kearse was key for the team. In Kearse, they get a veteran presence for the young receivers.
They also get something more that. They got a wide receiver who is well versed in the West Coast offense, and understanding that is key to the growth of this team moving forward.
He’s an important piece in the development of the young wide receivers. Early on, his presence will be felt as he should have a big first game on his new team.
Next: 4. Young security blanket
4. Tight End Jordan Leggett
Say what you will about Leggett’s blocking ability, which by the way is average at best. He was brought in to turn around a dismal history of Jets at the tight end position.
The tight end has become much more than a blocker in the 2017 version of the NFL. Leggett can be a matchup nightmare for NFL defenses, especially in the West Coast offense, which utilizes tight ends and backs.
He will be tested early on because he can hit the seam, line up in the slot, or in-line. This will be an early test to see if Leggett can handle the grind because Austin Seferian-Jenkins is suspended for the first two games of the season.
Leggett will have to beat the linebackers and show he can be the dangerous pass-catcher he was at Clemson. Even though he’s a rookie, he’s going to have to step up if the Jets want to win their first road game of the season. Keep an eye on him as McCown will undoubtedly use his skill-set in red zone situations.
Next: 3. Young speedster looking for breakout season
3. Wide Receiver Robby Anderson
The West Coast offense is predicated on rhythm and timing. Many people look at the West Coast offense as a dink-and-dunk style of offense that uses yards after the catch to move the ball.
The original design was an offense that used ball-control, but it has evolved to a three-level passing attack. The Jets can actually use Anderson on all three levels.
They can attack the defense vertically, or use short and intermediate passes and allow Anderson to catch and run. This actually makes him a valuable weapon against the Bills secondary.
The Jets have an opportunity to take advantage of Anderson’s skills. In order to beat the Bills, they will have to utilize him early and often to keep the defense on their toes.
Next: 2. Veteran who needs a breakout in 2017
2. Defensive End Muhammad Wilkerson
It’s put up or shut up for Wilkerson. Based on last season, Wilkerson’s lack of effort is what led to his decline in 2016.
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Wilkerson has a chance to prove something against an offensive line that didn’t perform well in the preseason. He needs to step up his game and prove he’s worth the money that was invested in him last offseason.
The tandem of him and Leonard Williams can be a dangerous duo, and it’s all about effort for Wilkerson. They could be a double-digit sack tandem if he puts the effort in play in and play out.
He will become a focal point for offensive lines, opening up the lanes for the pass rushers behind him. Then, Jets opponents will have to play the game of pick your poison. For the Bills, it might very well prove to be too much to handle.
Next: 1. Young leader looking to make a splash
1. Safety Jamal Adams
Yes, Adams is a rookie. With that said, the Jets drafted him for multiple reasons, and they can show up in Buffalo.
First things first, the Jets drafted him for his leadership and ability to set the defense in the right position. He’s an intelligent football player, and will be able to read the offense.
Secondly, his ability to cover was a key reason for drafting him number six overall. He can cover tight ends, wide receivers and running backs, and he has the speed to get to the ball on screen plays.
Finally, he won’t allow many yards after catch, as he is a good tackler. Adams can quickly show why the Jets drafted him sixth overall and that it wasn’t a mistake.