The New York Jets have found several hidden gems in 2019 thanks to a few key injuries. Here are all the details and what that means moving forward.
People have often stated that the New York Jets suck at developing talent and finding hidden gems.
If you look throughout modern history over the last 20 years, you’d be more right than wrong. But some unusual things happened during the 2019 preseason.
Adam Gase admittingly left his starting linebacker Avery Williamson in the game too long and he ended up suffering a season-ending injury that put him on the shelf for 2019. Although you could argue that’s not unusual for ineptitude to occur in the Jets coaching ranks, but that’s neither here or there.
When Avery went down, suddenly the spotlight and pressure intensified on New York’s $85 million investment at linebacker CJ Mosley.
With this injury news, Mosley’s expectations crept even higher prior to the start of the 2019 season. He lived up to the billing through the majority of the Week 1 contest vs the Buffalo Bills, until he too went down to injury and was ruled out for the game.
While the ending wasn’t pretty – the squad blew a 16 point lead to lose the game it now opened up an opportunity for some of the hidden gems on the roster to step up to the plate.
One of the most overused coaching cliches is ‘next man up’, but that mentality has created a few new stars on the rise for the green and white.
Blake Cashman was taken in the fifth round out of Minnesota. With the Jets being so deep at linebacker thanks to back-to-back years of investing in the position during free agency, expectations were minimal for Blake.
On top of that, the Jets haven’t exactly lit the football world on fire with their prior fifth-round draft selections. Brandon Shell is currently an average at best starter on the offensive line. While the most notable fifth-round draftee since then would probably be Jeremy Kerley who outlived his draft status.
Despite marginal expectations Blake has exceeded them. With all of the injuries, Cashman has been forced into the starting lineup and has excelled: 14 combined tackles, has played 95 percent of the defensive snaps the last two weeks, and recorded half a sack.
Blake has deceptive speed and will likely be shoved back down to rotational duty once Mosley returns.
That’s because another hidden gem has risen up: linebacker Neville Hewitt.
This isn’t supposed to happen. The Jets never find hidden gems, yet that’s exactly what Neville has proven to be so far in 2019.
After going unselected in the 2015 NFL Draft he signed with the Miami Dolphins and spent three seasons there not really finding much success.
Now suddenly entering his second season with the green and white, Hewitt has found new life. Whether it’s getting sacks (two which is a new career-high), has one interception, has started all three games so far this season, and has 19 tackles so far this season.
If the injuries wouldn’t have happened to the Jets, the team wouldn’t have realized how deep their linebacking core really is. Once CJ and eventually Avery comes back from injury, the team is going to be in the midst of what the millennials call a ‘first world problem.’