NY Jets: 3 new AFC East players to look out for in 2020
By Alex Wendling
The NY Jets will have to look out for a few new faces in the AFC East this season.
The NY Jets were witness to a complete divisional shakeup this offseason after Tom Brady announced that he will be leaving New England to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Jets aren’t the only team in their division to make improvements to their roster as the Miami Dolphins spent big money in free agency while also having perhaps one of the best drafts in the NFL this year.
The Patriots are in a transition phase at quarterback after losing the greatest player to ever play for the franchise and replacing him with second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham who is right now looking like the front-runner to be the starter.
The Patriots focused more on getting new talent in the draft and didn’t really spend much in free agency which is typical of Bill Belichick as he likes to develop young players. But never count the Patriots out even knowing they lost a lot of key players from 2019.
Last but not least, the front-runners to dethrone the Patriots are the Buffalo Bills who are coming off a 10-6 season where they clinched a playoff berth. The Bills focused on adding a lot of veteran players to their young roster such as Josh Norman, A.J. Klein, and Mario Addison.
On top of that, the Bills had a very productive but quiet draft as they didn’t have a first-round pick but still drafted running back Zack Moss (cousin of former NFL WR Santana Moss) and Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa who both can become big steals for Buffalo if they pan out.
So here are three new AFC East players who you should look out for in 2020.
Next: 1. Byron Jones
1. NY Jets fans should look out for: Byron Jones, CB, Miami Dolphins
Back in March when the free-agency period began for the new league year, one of the biggest names to hit the market was cornerback Byron Jones.
In 2018, Jones made his first and only Pro Bowl appearance. Last season Jones was only targeted 64 times by opposing quarterbacks and gave up a total of just 395 yards.
In his last two seasons, Jones has zero interceptions but has become one of the most consistent cornerbacks in the NFL. Per Pro Football Focus Bryon Jones’ PFF grade over that same timeframe was 85.1, a grade that only five other cornerbacks have topped.
Jones is one of the best outside cornerbacks in the NFL. He doesn’t create a ton of turnovers, but he will disrupt an offense by locking down a team’s number one receiver and forcing incompletions.
In his last two years with the Cowboys, Jones has had 15 pass breakups and has the fourth-best forced incompletion rate among all cornerbacks in the league.
Jones started his career as a safety but was converted to the cornerback position after former Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli changed the defensive scheme.
With his height and speed, Jones can play both cornerback and safety which is a perfect fit for Brian Flores’ defensive scheme where he’ll put more than four defensive backs out on the field at once in most of his defensive packages.
The Jets’ first game against Miami will be Week 10 in mid-November.
Next: 2. Mario Addison
2. NY Jets fans should look out for: Mario Addison, DE, Bills
In 2012, Mario Addison played eleven games for the Indianapolis Colts, Washington Redskins, and Carolina Panthers after being undrafted the year prior.
Since then, Addison has become an underrated edge rusher in the NFL. Last season, Addison was tied for 19th in the NFL with 9.5 sacks and also had a combined 34 tackles.
Addison will be reunited with Bills head coach Sean McDermott. McDermott was Addison’s defensive coordinator from 2012 to 2016 in Carolina before taking the Bills head coaching job.
Addison should be familiar with the defense the Bills run because it is the exact same defense he ran with McDermott back in his days with the Panthers.
In an interview with Daniel Fetes from ABC 13, an ABC affiliated station in Rochester NY, Fetes asked Addison about signing with Buffalo and how signing with the Bills was in the works since last summer.
“I already kinda liked Buffalo from the get-go. The coaching was very similar to what we had in Carolina. I liked competing against the offensive line. They were going hard. We were going hard and nobody was getting mad at one another and that made the whole thing fun.
In my mind to be able to compete with those guys at practice every day I knew it would make me a better player and I’ll make those guys better.”
McDermott likes to run a lot of 4-3 sets and he likes to drop defensive lineman back into coverage in certain packages — something Addison did a lot of in Carolina.
Addison will be a force to be reckoned with in 2020. Buffalo is the perfect fit for him with the scheme they run which makes him even more dangerous.
Next: 3. Stefon Diggs
3. NY Jets fans should look out for: Stefon Diggs, WR, Bills
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The biggest acquisition in the AFC East by far was Stefon Diggs. Back in March, the Bills got Diggs and a 2020 seventh-round pick from the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for the 22nd overall pick in this year’s draft, a 2020 fifth-round pick, a 2020 sixth-round pick, and a 2021 fourth-round pick.
Diggs will join fellow wideouts John Brown and Cole Beasley as one of Josh Allen’s weapons in the Bills offense.
Of course, Diggs will be their number one receiver, but he is accompanied by Brown who had a career-best 1,060 receiving yard season and Beasley who is one of the more consistent slot receivers in the NFL.
Diggs is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons with the Vikings. In an interview with Matt Parrino of Syracuse.com, Parrino asked Bills head coach Sean McDermott about the acquisition of Diggs.
“You look at the production that Stefon has experienced over the course of his career, that speaks for itself. He’s played in big games. He’s had big roles in those games.
We believe that, and it’s been shown and proven to this point, people are able to come to Buffalo and become the best version of themselves. He’s certainly been awfully good to this point.”
The Jets open up the season against Stefon Diggs and the Bills in Buffalo.