NY Jets: 5 injured players from 2019 that’ll make an impact in 2020
By Paul A. Esden Jr.
The NY Jets were injury-riddled throughout the 2019 campaign. Here are the five players that’ll return to make a huge impact in 2020.
There’s no other way to slice it, the NY Jets were absolutely snake bitten in 2019. Their season was over before it started. Stop me if you’ve heard that one before during your time as a fan of the green and white.
The team suffered injuries, diseases, and bad luck. All the negative energy infected the team and they could never really recover in the first half of their season.
Although we all have to give the team a tip of the cap because they finished 7-9 making chicken salad out of chicken s***. The season could’ve easily gone off the rails after the 1-7 start to the year, but instead, the team finished strong.
Gang Green was 6-2 in the second half of 2019 which was the second-best record in the entire league only behind the 8-0 Baltimore Ravens during that span. The NY Jets are hoping all that positive momentum continues heading into 2020.
On top of the NY Jets having $50 million in cap space and eight selections in the 2020 NFL Draft, they have another secret weapon that’ll help them next season. All of the players that got banged up will be back better than ever to help turn this thing around.
With that being said, here are five injured players from 2019 that have unfinished business to attend to next season.
Next: 5. Injured WR ready to make a comeback
5. Quincy Enunwa
People still make fun of the infamous “Idzik 12”.
Back in the 2014 NFL Draft, the NY Jets were armed with 12 selections. Many people assumed the team would use its’ surplus of picks to move around the draft board to get quality over quantity, although former general manager John Idzik had different ideas:
Calvin Pryor (18th overall pick, out of the league)
Jace Amaro (49th overall pick, out of the league)
Dexter McDougle (80th overall pick, out of the league)
Jalen Saunders (104th overall pick, out of the league)
Shaquelle Evans (115th overall pick, out of the league)
Dakota Dozier (137th overall pick, Minnesota Vikings)
Jeremiah George (154th overall pick, out of the league)
Brandon Dixon (195th overall pick, out of the league)
IK Enemkpali (210th overall pick, out of the league)
Tajh Boyd (213th overall pick, out of the league)
Trevor Reilly (233rd overall pick, out of the league)
The only player that is still on the Jets from that draft class is wide receiver Quincy Enunwa who the team found in the sixth round out of Nebraska.
Enunwa is a running back in a tight end’s body playing wide receiver. He’s known for breaking tackles and making game-changing plays. His only problem has been durability.
Since entering the league back in 2014 he has never been able to start a full season. In particular, over the last two years, Enunwa has missed over 20 games due to serious injury.
In 2017 he was diagnosed with bulging discs in his neck which forced the team to put him on injured reserve. The next season he got healthy and the team handed him a juicy four-year contract extension for $36 million. In 2019 he got hurt Week 1 with another neck injury and it cost him the rest of the season.
General manager Joe Douglas spoke to the media at the NFL Combine and stated that everything is going according to schedule and the team expects Enunwa back in 2020. Quincy has not been medically cleared yet, but he’s proven when he’s on the field he can make an impact.
The Jets will likely operate under the belief that Enunwa won’t return next season and build their receiving core through free agency and the 2020 NFL Draft. If Quincy comes back healthy that’s gravy because his versatility could work wonders in this Adam Gase offense whether he’s lined up in the backfield, h-back role, tight end, out wide, or heck even in the slot. The possibilities are endless.
Next: 4. Young LB w/ potential
4. Blake Cashman
Blake Cashman is another player who has a checkered past as it pertains to injuries and they came back to haunt him in the NFL.
Cashman had surgery on both of his shoulders during his time at Minnesota in college. Despite those durability concerns he was selected with the 157th overall pick in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
It appeared to be a depth move by then general manager Mike Maccagnan. The team already had Avery Williamson, they had just signed CJ Mosley in free agency that year, and already had depth on the team. Although everything happens for a reason.
The linebacker position would implode with injuries and suddenly Blake Cashman was thrust into the starting lineup. Cashman excelled in his opportunities thanks to his nose for the football and his work ethic.
Cashman was originally a walk-on with the Gophers and then became a team captain. He used his speed and instincts to take advantage of the opportunities under Gregg Williams system. Sadly in early November Cashman was placed on injured reserve thanks to another troublesome shoulder injury.
Despite the apparent depth at linebacker on the team and players returning from injury, Cashman can and will have a role on this team in 2020. He’s a valuable role player and core special teamer.
Next: 3. Key OL building block
3. Chuma Edoga
The NY Jets offensive line was a dumpster fire in 2019. Sam Darnold got pummeled, pounded, battered, and bruised.
“In 2019, the Jets allowed 52 sacks (29th), averaged 3.3 yards per rush (32nd) and generated six plays of at least 40 yards — a formula for bad offense,” per ESPN’s Rich Cimini.
Despite those horrible analytics, there’s only so much you can do in a single offseason.
With $50 million in cap space and eight selections in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Jets will be able to solve some of the issues but not all of them. It’s unrealistic to believe the Jets can plug in five brand new starters on the line, three new starters is a bit more realistic.
This means that some of the starters from 2019 on the offensive line will be back in 2020. One player who showed a ton of potential is last year’s third-round pick out of USC Chuma Edoga.
Edoga ended up starting eight games in 2019 due to injury.
Multiple people from within the Jets building continue to say they believe Edoga “has long-term starting potential at right tackle.” There’s also a belief, depending on what the team does in free agency and the draft, that Chuma could even slide in to play some guard in 2020 if need be.
He got banged up in 2019 and will have a chance to be a long-term building block next season and in the future.
Next: 2. Important cog on D
2. CJ Mosley
One of the biggest disappointments from the 2019 season was the demise of linebacker CJ Mosley. Mosley signed a five-year $85 million contract with $43 million guaranteed at signing and $51 million in total guarantees. The market was reset for inside linebackers with Mosley averaging a record-breaking $17 million per season on his new deal.
Expectations were through the roof and Mosley was supposed to bring his elite All-Pro instincts and intangibles to a locker room in shambles from 2018.
Everything looked excellent through the first half of the Week 1 season opener vs the Buffalo Bills. Mosley had a pick-six, a fumble recovery, six combined tackles, and helped the Jets build a 16-0 lead. Then everything fell apart.
Mosley injured his groin vs the Bills and never returned to the game. The team collapsed like a used lawn chair and ended up losing 17-16. His status was a mystery for much of the season then randomly he came back in Week 7 vs the New England Patriots. Mosley played a few snaps, wasn’t right, and came out of the game.
The good news is he’s expected back for spring ball and he’s a relentlessly hard worker. Mosley showed Jets fans a glimpse of what they paid for in that first game vs Buffalo. The other great news is Mosley through the first five years of his career played in 77 of 80 career games. This seems to indicate this injury-riddled 2019 season was a blip on the radar.
When he’s on the field, CJ is a dynamic playmaker that can make this NY Jets defense even better in 2020.
Next: 1. Sam Darnold's best friend
1. Chris Herndon
Chris Herndon is the poster child for a series of unfortunate events.
He was initially suspended the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s policy and program on substance abuse due to his involvement in a DWI. Then he was reinstated by the league in early October of 2019.
Just when it appeared Herndon was going to come back to help the NY Jets, he pulled his hamstring working out to get ready for his return on his own. That put him back on the shelf delaying his return.
Eventually, he did appear in a single game and recorded a single catch for seven yards and that was it. Candidly it was a disappointing season for a player who seemed primed for a tremendous leap in his sophomore season.
As a rookie, Herndon caught 39 receptions for 502 yards and four touchdowns. Chris had an amazing 12.9 yards per reception which hinted at his big play ability.
Now with a full offseason to heal up, Chris Herndon is going to enter 2020 as the team’s lead tight end with overflowing amounts of potential. He’ll be paired with Ryan Griffin to form a nasty 1-2 tight end combination.
Herndon is a mismatch nightmare at 6-foot-4, 253 pounds. Whether he’s attacking the seam, making things happen in the red zone, or simply being a reliable security blanket for Sam Darnold, he’ll be a huge part of the offense moving forward.