The New York Jets will be without starting linebacker Avery Williamson for the 2019 season. However, they should be able to survive without him.
News broke from the team on Friday that New York Jets’ star linebacker Avery Williamson will miss the entire 2019 season with a torn ACL. Williamson was a leader and the play-caller for the Jets defense. His presence will be missed in the middle of the field.
The Jets signed Williamson to a three-year, $22.5 million deal in the 2018 offseason. In his first season with New York, he posted Pro Bowl worthy numbers: 120 tackles, one interception, three sacks, and six pass break-ups.
Williamson was growing as a leader and a player with Gang Green. Now he will have to miss an entire season and his future with the Jets could be in jeopardy. We wish Avery nothing but the best during his recovery and in the future.
However, the loss of Williamson shouldn’t be a season killer for the Jets. The front office has built a strong group of inside linebackers, so the depth at the position is among the best of any group on the entire roster.
The current depth chart shows that Neville Hewitt will take over Williamson’s duties as the second middle linebacker alongside C.J. Mosley. Jets fans should feel very comfortable with Hewitt as a starter. He played in place of Darron Lee for the last four games of the season and played fairly well.
In his four starts, Hewitt posted 27 tackles, 1.5 sacks, one tackle for loss, and four QB hits. If he posted those numbers consistently throughout a 16 game season, he would have 108 tackles, six sacks, four tackles for loss, and 16 QB hits. Very solid numbers to pair up with a Pro Bowler like Mosley.
Hewitt should be able to hold down the fort during the absence of Williamson in 2019. Williamson was a key piece to the Jets defense, but NY built enough linebacker depth to be able to survive an injury.
Even if Hewitt plays poorly and isn’t viable to use in Gregg Williams’ defense, they have even more options to choose from. 2019 5th round pick Blake Cashman has been impressing coaches during practices and in the preseason all summer long. Now, he gets a shot at a starting job.
Cashman put up monster numbers in his senior year of college. He posted 104 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and five pass break-ups. He was a captain for Minnesota, so there isn’t much concern over whether he can be a leader in the middle of the defense.
The Jets also have Anthony Wint and James Burgess, who have both shined during the summer as well. They both had takeaways in Thursday’s outing against the Atlanta Falcons, Wint recovering a fumble and Burgess intercepting a pass and returning it for a touchdown.
The Jets have a wide-open race for the starting job that Williamson’s injury vacated. It’s anybodys for the taking. The next two preseason games will be key to watch in that regard. Any of the four backups should fill in the role just fine, and Jets fans don’t have to worry about their teams season being over. Although he will be greatly missed in the middle of the defense, Gang Green should be able to survive this injury.